Keratosis pilaris/chicken skin (those permanent goosebumbs on your forearms and thighs) is a condition that affects 50-80% of all adolescents and approximately 40% of adults.Most people with keratosis pilaris are unaware the condition has a designated medical term or that it is treatable. In general, keratosis pilaris is frequently cosmetically displeasing but medically harmless.
Treatment of keratosis pilaris can include the following medications:
• Topical exfoliants. Medicated creams containing alpha-hydroxy acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid or urea moisturize and soften dry skin while helping to loosen and remove dead skin cells. Depending on their strength, certain creams are available over-the-counter and others require a prescription. Your doctor can advise you on the best option for your skin. The acids in these creams may cause redness, stinging or skin irritation. For that reason, topical exfoliants aren’t recommended for young children.
• Topical retinoids. Derived from vitamin A, retinoids work by promoting cell turnover and preventing the plugging of the hair follicle. Retinoids may be an effective treatment, but they can cause bothersome skin irritations, such as severe dryness, redness and peeling. Tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova, Avita) and tazarotene (Avage, Tazorac) are examples of topical retinoids. If you’re pregnant or nursing, your doctor may opt to delay topical retinoid therapy or choose an alternative treatment.
• Laser therapy. Certain types of keratosis pilaris involving severe redness and inflammation have been successfully treated with laser therapy. Laser treatment involves passing intense bursts of light into targeted areas of skin. This type of treatment may require repeat sessions over the course of a few months, depending on your response.
Using a medication regularly may improve the appearance of your skin. But if you stop, the condition returns. And even with medical treatment, keratosis pilaris tends to persist for years.
LifestySelf-help measures won’t cure keratosis pilaris, but they can help improve the appearance of your skin. You may find these measures beneficial:
• Go easy on your skin. Vigorous scrubbing or removal of the plugs may irritate your skin and aggravate the condition.
• Gently dry off. After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains on the skin.
• Use a moisturizing lotion or lubricating cream. While your skin is still moist from bathing, apply a moisturizer that contains lanolin (Lansinoh, Medela), petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or glycerin (Glysolid), ingredients that soothe dry skin and help trap moisture.
• Try urea or lactic acid. Apply an over-the-counter product that contains urea (Nutraplus, Eucerin) or lactic acid (AmLactin, Lac-hydrin) twice daily. Both help remove extra keratin from the surface of the skin.
• Use a humidifier. A portable home humidifier or one attached to your furnace will add moisture to the air inside your home.
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