June 6th, 2011
07:54 AM ET

Can you make keratosis pilaris go away?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Asked by Jennifer from Richmond, Virginia

My 14-year-old daughter has had bumps on her cheeks, upper arms and thighs for several years. Her pediatrician say it's keratosis pilaris and not to worry about it, but my daughter doesn't like the way the bumps look. Is there anything we can try to make them go away?

Expert answer

Thanks for your question. Keratosis pilaris is a very common skin condition that occurs in different degrees of severity in up to 80% of teens and nearly half of adults.

Resembling pink or flesh-colored goose bumps, keratosis pilaris is caused when a substance called keratin clogs the hair follicles on the skin, usually on the outer parts of the upper arms and thighs and sometimes also on the face.

Keratosis pilaris is not harmful and if left untreated may eventually clear up, although this can take years. The condition often runs in families and tends to be worst during the teen and young adult years.

Some people find their skin improves in the summer with sun exposure, while for others it can get worse.

Your daughter may first wish to try simple measures such as taking warm rather than hot baths or showers and running a humidifier in her room.

Soap-free cleansers such as Dove or Cetaphil are often recommended, as are general over-the-counter moisturizers. Exfoliating with a loofah may also aid in removing some of the keratin.

There are multiple creams and lotions that may be prescribed for patients wanting to treat keratosis pilaris; however, they don't always work well. Products containing lactic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, a retinoid or other acne medicines, or urea can sometimes reduce the bumps.

Using a topical steroid for about a week may also help if the bumps are very red or inflamed. In severe cases, removing the bumps by microdermabrasion, chemical peels or other methods can be successful.

You can ask your pediatrician if any of these therapies may be useful in your daughter's situation or consider consulting a dermatologist.

Because this condition is so common, I hope our readers will share their experiences with treating keratosis pilaris as well.

Follow Dr. Shu on Twitter

soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. microdermabrasion

    As I gеt oldеr I аm more аwаre of mу skіn аnd taking саre оf it. I hаd а wondеrful оppоrtunіtу tо rеviеw а Perѕonal Mіcrоderm Sуѕtem аnd I саn't ѕaу enough greаt thingѕ аbout іt. I dіdn't have аnу iѕѕuеѕ оr problеms аfter uѕing thе mircоderm ѕуѕtem аnd would rесоmmеnd іt for аnyоne wіth іmрerfесtiоnѕ.

    February 16, 2013 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. win 7

    thanks for you.buy win 7 home.

    February 22, 2013 at 03:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Arramitaf

    http://www.payday-money-online.net Since there is no hold accountable brake complicated, these loans loosely transpire b nautical tack in handy. There are certainly no hassles knotty in these loans. There is also no paperwork elaborate in these

    April 9, 2013 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. SitWabGantind

    cash advance payday lending sc

    April 10, 2013 at 00:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Maggie

    Thanks this will help a lot. I always wear long sleeve cus I felt embarrassed by the pimples but this summer ill try to wear more tank tops to get more sun. Thanks, this helped. :)

    June 12, 2013 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Naomi Millay

    A chemical peel is a body treatment technique used to improve and smooth the texture of the facial skin using a chemical solution that causes the dead skin to slough off and eventually peel off.';`,

    Most recently released article content on our own blog page http://healthmedicine101.com/index.php/

    June 15, 2013 at 23:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Paulene Cayo

    The healing qualities of Shea butter are due to the presence of several fatty acids and plant sterols, namely oleic, stearic, palmitic and linolenic acids. These oil-soluble components are nonsaponifiable, meaning they do not undergo saponification, or convert to soap, when introduced to an alkali. Shea butter possesses a significantly greater nonsaponifiable fraction than most other nut oils and fats, which lends the substance greater healing potential for the skin.`^..-

    Pay a visit to our own webpage too <http://www.healthmedicinebook.com

    July 3, 2013 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Luz

    I have it to only on the thighs and shoulders so in th summer I cover it up during the day but at night I wear shorts but I just stare at it and feel uncomfortable and insecure about myself

    March 2, 2014 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Zoey

    I've had keratosis pilaris sinceI was nine years old I've always found it to be pesky but now the bumps are getting bigger I have a bad habit of popping them and when I do pop them it's literally disgusting I've tried everything and they will go not away!!! I know it's genetics and I'm going to see a dermatologist but I just really want it to go away. I can't even wear T-shirts. Plus I think it may be my allergies or even the way I eat I want to go on a diet really badly but it's really hard. I'm 134 pounds, and I'm 13. Pleeeeaassee help!!

    May 8, 2014 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. blueNik

    I am 33 and never had skin issues until after the birth of my second son. I have also been into preventative skin care and now that I am over 30 and I have been stepping it up a bit more. I use the Shielo Complexion Scrub twice weekly.ONLY TWICE PER WEEK. This is by far the BEST at scrub that I have come across.

    First time I used the Shielo Scrub I thought it felt and smelled a lot like other products I have tried but when I rinsed off I could immediately tell a difference...I couldn't stop touching my face because it was THAT soft.

    August 20, 2014 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Molly

    I'm currently in high school and have KP on my arms and shoulders(it spreads slightly to my back) thighs, cheeks and underside of my chin. I live in FL so the bumps themselves aren't huge or super irritated or anything, but I've noticed several key things. My diet hugely affects my skin. If I cut out dairy and gluten my skin clears up right away. I use a lufa in the shower to exfoliate. And I use organic coconut oil to moisturize. All of the above have helped! I'm thinking about trying the amlactin for a moisturizer because my skin is still really dry, and taking the extra supplements(Vit D and some extra C doesn't hurt). I also have Vitiligo(pigmentation problems) so I try to stay away from anything with harsh chemicals, or from picking at my skin. Thanks to everybody for the advice!!

    January 20, 2015 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Clover

    I have an almost 4 year old. Shr has suffered from KP since she was 9 ms old. I've tried every prescription.

    I've fibaly found a regimen that works for us. It hasn't gone away completely, but half way. I keep thinking, if I keep being persistent, it'll fibally diminish.

    I wash with a tea tree gentle wash, with a clarisonic mia using the pore cleaning brush.

    Use Toner, then coconut oil

    then urea 40% after she goes to sleep bc it burns. The. I coat that with aquaphor kids.

    In the morning, I put argan oil from MUAC on her face to moisturize and protect the skin from irritants.
    It's a lot to do, but it's worth it.

    March 24, 2015 at 19:30 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.