Treating Hard to Control Keratosis Pilaris

Learn about what you can do if your kids have keratosis pilaris.

Keratosis pilaris is one of the more common rashes kids get that you have probably never actually heard of.

“Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a common inherited disorder of follicular hyperkeratosis. It is characterized by small, folliculocentric keratotic papules that may have surrounding erythema.”

Keratosis Pilaris: A Common Follicular Hyperkeratosis

Keratosis pilaris develops when hair follicles fill up with dead skin cells and scales instead of exfoliating normally. That doesn’t mean that kids with KP are doing something wrong though.

What Keratosis Pilaris Looks Like

Children with keratosis pilaris will have small, scaly, red or flesh colored bumps on both cheeks, upper arms, and/or thighs. It can even occur on a child’s back and buttocks.

Children with keratosis pilaris will have small, scaly, red or flesh colored bumps on both cheeks, upper arms, and/or thighs.

Although it can occur year round, it is often worse in the winter, when a child’s skin will feel rough and dry with small red bumps.

Keratosis pilaris feels rough, like sandpaper, but it typically isn’t itchy, making this mostly a cosmetic issue.

Keratotis Pilaris Treatments for Kids

Treatment isn’t always necessary, but if you want to try and get rid of your child’s keratosis rash, it may help to very regularly (every day) use an exfoliating moisturizer, like Eucerin Roughness Relief Lotion for Extremely Dry, Rough Skin (contains urea and lactic acid) or over-the-counter strength Lac-Hydrin lotion (contains 5% lactic acid).

It can also help to:

  • use a soap substitute, like Dove or Cetaphil, instead of a harsh soap
  • wash with an exfoliating sponge, exfoliator brush, or exfoliating gloves
  • use a humidifier, especially if it very dry in your home
  • avoid long hot baths or showers, which seem to make it worse
  • get a higher strength Lac-Hydrin 12% lotion
  • get a prescription for a topical retinoid cream, such as Retin-A or Tazorac
  • get a prescription for a topical steroid cream if the rash is very red, rough, and bumpy

Even with proper treatment, which might include some combination of the above prescription creams, you can expect your child’s rash to come back at times.

Fortunately, keratosis pilaris does seem to eventually go away when kids get older, especially in their late teens.

What To Know About Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a common rash that is hard to treat and lasts a long time.

Since it is mostly cosmetic and may eventually go away on its own, you probably don’t have to go overboard trying to treat it.

More on Keratosis Pilaris

Last Updated on August 9, 2020 by Vincent Iannelli, MD

Author: Vincent Iannelli, MD

Vincent Iannelli, MD

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