Gradually, keratosis pilaris usually clears up on its own. In the meantime, you might use any of the various products available to help improve the appearance of affected skin. If moisturizing and other self-care measures don't help, your doctor may prescribe medicated creams.
- Creams to remove dead skin cells. Creams containing alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid or urea help loosen and remove dead skin cells. They also moisturize and soften dry skin. Depending on their strength, these creams (topical exfoliants) are available over-the-counter or with a prescription. Your doctor can advise you on the best option and how often to apply. The acids in these creams may cause redness, stinging or skin irritation, so they aren't recommended for young children.
- Creams to prevent plugged follicles. Creams derived from vitamin A (topical retinoids) work by promoting cell turnover and preventing plugged hair follicles. Tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova, Avita) and tazarotene (Avage, Tazorac) are examples of topical retinoids. These products can irritate and dry the skin. Also, if you're pregnant or nursing, your doctor may suggest delaying topical retinoid therapy or choosing another treatment
Using medicated cream regularly may improve the appearance of the skin. But if you stop, the condition returns. And even with treatment, keratosis pilaris tends to persist for years.
Aug. 08, 2017
- AskMayoExpert. Keratosis pilaris. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Keratosis pilaris. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. http://www.aocd.org/skin/dermatologic_diseases/keratosis_pilaris.html. Accessed Nov. 4, 2015.
- Keratosis pilaris. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/print/dermatologic_disorders/cornification_disorders/keratosis_pilaris.html. Accessed Nov. 4, 2015.
- Keratosis pilaris. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/i---l/keratosis-pilaris/who-gets-causes. Accessed Nov. 4, 2015.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Keratosis pilaris and other inflammatory follicular keratotic syndromes. In: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Nov. 4, 2015.
- Dermatologists' top 10 tips for relieving dry skin. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/health-and-beauty/general-skin-care/dry-skin-tips. Accessed Nov. 4, 2015.
- Retin-A. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov. Accessed Nov. 5, 2015.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Epidermal growth and differentiation. In: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Nov. 5, 2015.