Treatment

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.