You may be suffering from Keratosis pilaris and don’t realize it. This skin condition is predicted to affect between 50-80% of young adults, and is more common in women than men. Do you have patches of small, acne-like bumps on the back of your arms? Those small bumps can be white or red, and aren’t itchy or painful. They are just there. So what are those things?
So what causes it? Keratin, a natural protein produced by your body, can be produced in excess causing buildup around hair follicles. The keratin can trap the hair follicle, forming small, hard plugs. Most people experience KP year-round, but it can be exacerbated in the dry, winter months. It is unknown what causes the keratin buildup, but KP can and will happen in otherwise healthy individuals.
Keratosis pilaris can be difficult to treat, but can go away on its own as you age. It also isn’t usually considered a serious medical condition, meaning it doesn’t require treatment unless for aesthetic reasons. Typical treatment is a topical cream containing a chemical exfoliant or a retinoid.
Salicylic acid, alpha-hydroxy acid and lactic acid are chemical exfoliants that can help remove dead skin cells.
Retinoids are derived from vitamin A and promote cell turnover, which can prevent KP. Pregnant women should not use retinoids.
Your dermatologist can recommend the best treatment for you after a visual examination. Ongoing treatment will keep KP in check, but if you stop, it can return.