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Diseases & Conditions

Keratosis Pilaris

What is keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a common skin disorder characterized by small, pointed pimples. The pimples usually appear on the upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. The condition worsens in the winter and usually clears up in the summer. Keratosis pilaris has no known cause, but tends to run in families.

This disorder does not get worse over time. It is harmless, and often disappears as the person ages. 

Treatment for keratosis pilaris

Usually no treatment is necessary for keratosis pilaris, since it normally clears up by itself. Treatment may include:

  • Using petroleum jelly with water, cold cream, or salicylic acid (which removes the top layer of skin) to flatten the pimples

  • Using a tretinoin cream (a drug which is chemically related to vitamin A) 

Contact your health care provider if the condition does not respond to over-the-counter moisturizing lotions. Since this is a common, harmless skin condition, you can also discuss it during a routine office visit. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Jones, Niya, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ziegler, Olivia Walton, MS, PA-C
Last Review Date: 2/1/2013
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