Keratosis pilaris is a chronic skin condition that is quite common. It is one of the skin issues we are asked about frequently in the office. It often appears in the first few years of life, it is worse when the weather is colder, and cannot be entirely cured. The rash rarely itches, but it does for some folks. It tends to be genetic with some families having multiple folks who have keratosis pilaris.
Keratosis pilaris appears as small rough bumps on the back sides of the upper arms, sides of the thighs, and cheeks of the face. It tends to look flesh colored in paler skinned individuals, but can look darker pigmented in persons with naturally darker pigments. It can spread from these areas or be just in one of these areas (arms) but not others. It may worsen when the air is more dry (during the winter months when heating the house drops the humidity in the house).
Keratosis pilaris is more common in families with allergic illnesses - eczema, allergic rhinitis/hay fever, asthma, and food allergies. Many times, a person only has some of these issues, not all. So if dad has allergies and mom has had eczema, their children could have keratosis pilaris even if they have no other of these issues.
Keratosis pilaris is not curable. You can keep it under control, but it cannot be made to go away permanently. It keep it under control, it needs to be regularly treated. Often that treatment will be on a daily or multiple days per week.
For many years, our go-to treatment for keratosis pilaris was a lotion called Lac Hydrin Lotion. Sadly, it appears the manufacture has discontinued the product. Some of the available products are ones you may need to check in stores and online to find. All of these products are available at Amazon.com. Here are the products I would recommend now, with the CeraVe product being the best:
CeraVe Renewing SA Lotion
AmLactin Alpha-Hydroxy Therapy Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion
Geritrex Geri-Hydrolac Lotion
If you have tried one of these for a few weeks without relief, try a different listed product. Note that many other great creams and lotions used for dry skin (Eucerin, Aveeno, Cetaphil, or other CeraVe products) often do not work on keratosis pilaris.
If all else fails and the rashy bumps are bothersome, we often refer a patient to a dermatologist for further help.