Does Keratosis Pilaris Itch? (Hint: Yes, it Does)


If you find yourself suffering from itchy bumps that resemble goose pimples on your skin, there’s a chance you may have a condition known as keratosis pilaris. The name may sound rather scary, but keratosis pilaris is more common than you might think. In fact, it is one of the many pediatric skin conditions dermatologists treat. Although, the condition is relatively benign, keratosis pilaris does itch, which can lead it to be quite annoying or irritating for most people.

Why is keratosis pilaris itchy?

Symptoms of keratosis pilaris include a rash or an irregular pattern of rashes consisting of tiny bumps. The bumps can be red or tan and form around hair follicles on the arms, thighs, buttocks, and cheeks. Because the bumps get inflamed, itching becomes a frequent symptom. Although there is no cure, treatment is possible.

It is important to note that while keratosis pilaris is often itchy and dry, it should not hurt or cause pain when pressed. If your rash is causing you severe pain or discomfort, you may be experiencing a different condition and should seek the care of an experienced dermatologist for proper diagnosis.

What causes keratosis pilaris?

The condition gets its name from keratin, a fibrous protein that makes up nails, hair, and the outer layer of skin. It forms a protective barrier from infections and environmental toxins. An abnormal buildup of keratin can form a plug that blocks the opening of a hair follicle, causing a raised bump. As with general dryness of the skin, keratosis pilaris is often worse in the winter.

Who develops keratosis pilaris?

A person with dry skin is more likely to have itchy keratosis pilaris. The condition also tends to run in families, as it has a genetic component, although it is neither an infection nor contagious. People who suffer from other skin sensitivities like eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) may be more likely to get keratosis pilaris.

Children and adolescents are more likely to contract keratosis pilaris that is severely itchy, although many adults may still experience discomfort from this condition. Females are also more prone to have the condition than males.

Treatment for keratosis pilaris

Once diagnosed, one proven treatment for the itching is a steroid cream applied to the affected area daily for a week to 10 days. Another, less common option your dermatologist may recommend is carbon dioxide laser.

Because keratosis pilaris is itchy and generally a chronic condition requiring long-term treatment, most therapies recommend repeated or long-term use for optimum results. Besides steroids, non-prescription treatments include chemical exfoliators, as well as intensive moisturizers, and calming agents like green tea.

A dermatologist can determine whether you or your child has keratosis pilaris by simply examining the affected skin. If you are concerned that your child may have bothersome and itchy keratosis pilaris, schedule an appointment with our board-certified pediatric dermatologist, Dr. Elizabeth J. Froelich today. It’s also important to stay up to date on other common pediatric skin conditions so that your child can get the proper diagnosis and treatment.

Are you interested in other conditions we treat? Contact our offices today to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified Pittsburgh dermatologists.

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Vujevich Dermatology Associates offers medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology from some of the most highly trained physicians and clinicians in the greater Pittsburgh area.  You can reach our team at 412-429-2570 or visit our contact page to see our greater Pittsburgh, PA locations in Mt. Lebanon, Pleasant Hills, and Washington. You can also follow us on Facebook where we’ll share more seasonal tips throughout the year.

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