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

Treating Hard To Control Eczema

While eczema can usually be controlled and most kids eventually outgrow having eczema, you may need some help to really understand how to really manage your child’s eczema effectively.

Eczema or atopic dermatitis very commonly affects kids.

Few conditions are as frustrating for parents and pediatricians, because even when properly treated, you can expect eczema to flare up from time to time after it gets better. Eczema is even worse when it isn’t properly treated though.

What Triggers Your Child’s Eczema?

Like other things that are supposed to have triggers, like asthma and migraines, it is often hard to figure out what triggers a child’s eczema.

Dress in soft, breathable clothing and avoid itchy fabrics like wool, that can further irritate your eczema.

National Eczema Association

Common eczema triggers to avoid might include:

  • harsh soaps and cleansers, shampoos, and body washes, including those with fragrances
  • food allergy triggers – milk and eggs
  • environmental allergy triggers – dust mites and animal dander
  • low humidity
  • temperature extremes – either getting too hot or too cold
  • skin infections

And anything else that might make your child’s skin dry and itchy.

Eczema Treatments for Kids

Although there is no cure for eczema, it is usually possible to control your child’s eczema, including getting rid of all or most of her eczema rash and decreasing how often your child has eczema flares.

These basic treatments include:

  • using lukewarm water for daily baths and showers
  • using a soap substitute or cleanser that is unscented, fragrance-free, and dye-free – Cetaphil, Dove, Aveeno
  • using a tar-based shampoo if your child’s scalp is red and itchy – T-Gel
  • daily use of moisturizers, especially within a few minutes of taking a bath or shower (soak and seal therapy)
  • prompt use of a moderate strength prescription topical steroid (like traimcinolone acetonide 0.1% cream) as soon as your child has a flare, with red, rough itchy skin
  • as needed use of oral antihistamines to help control itching during flares – Benadryl
  • keeping your child’s finger nails short to minimize damage from scratching

A written eczema action plan can make sure that you understand how and when to do each of these treatments.

Best Moisturizers for Eczema

Everyone seems to have their favorite eczema moisturizer.

Which is best?

The best moisturizer is probably the one that your child will use and which works to keep his skin from getting dry. In general though, ointments are better than creams, which are better than lotions.

Some favorites include Aquaphor (too thick and greasy for some people), Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, Eucerin Original, and Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream.

Whichever moisturizer you use, be sure to apply it to your child’s skin within three minutes of his soaking in a bath or shower so that you can seal in the moisture (soak and seal therapy).

Treating Hard To Control Eczema

What to do you do when basic treatments aren’t working?

Although a pediatric dermatologist can evaluate your child to see if she needs a systemic medication, phototherapy, or other treatment, most kids with hard to control eczema simply need more education to make sure they are using standard treatments correctly.

  • Is your child bathing correctly?
  • Are you putting on the right moisturizer, using enough moisturizer, and using it often enough?
  • Is your soap too harsh?
  • Are you afraid to use a topical steroid?
  • Are you applying a┬ásteroid over a moisturizer, which can make it less effective?
  • Could you be doing more to avoid triggers?
  • Could stress be triggering your child’s eczema?

What’s next?

A Staph skin infection might be a problem. In addition to oral antibiotics, weekly dilute bleach baths might help if this is an issue for your child.

Your child with hard to control eczema might also benefit from:

  • using more moisturizer over his entire body – don’t spot treat the areas that you think are a problem
  • using a thicker moisturizer – put your jar of Aquaphor in the freezer or refrigerator if your child doesn’t typically like using a moisturizer or complains that it stings or burns
  • a prescription barrier cream to control itching – Atopiclair, MimyX
  • a prescription topical Clacineurin Inhibitors – Elidel, Protopic
  • a 504 school plan
  • changing your laundry routine – wash new clothes, use mild, dye free laundry detergent and rinse twice after washing
  • using sunscreen and rinsing after swimming in a pool or excessive sweating, applying a moisturizing quickly afterwards
  • allergy testing to better identify triggers

You might also talk to your pediatrician about wet wrap therapy. With this treatment, you have your child take a bath or shower, applying a topical steroid to the affected areas and a generous amount of moisturizer to the rest of your child’s skin. Next, cover the area in wet cotton clothing or a wet dressing, and lastly, dress your child in dry cotton clothing, removing them all once the clothing dries out. You can then repeat the whole process or start again the next night, continuing until your child’s eczema is under better control.

Wrap therapy can be done with wet pajamas if you have to cover a big area, tube socks with the end cut off if you just have to do his arms, or cotton gloves for hard to control hand eczema. Some experts even recommend using a chilled wet dressing, putting the wet clothes in the refrigerator for a short time before using them on your child.

If you are at the point of considering wet wrap therapy, seeing a pediatric dermatologist might also be a good idea.

What To Know About Treating Hard To Control Eczema

While eczema can usually be controlled and most kids eventually outgrow having eczema, you may need some help to really understand how to really manage your child’s eczema effectively.

More Information About Treating Hard To Control Eczema