Medical Q&As

Keratosis pilaris - what is it?

I'm looking for advice on a skin condition known as keratosis pilaris. I am a 26-year-old girl who suffers from it quite badly on the upper arms, thighs, and on other parts of the body. Although the condition is not sore it is quite unsightly. Is there anything I can do to combat this problem? I moisturise twice a day but this does not help!

Keratosis pilaris is due to the excessive formation of keratin at the opening into the hair follicle. Keratin is a protein and is the principal constituent of the epidermis, hair, nails and the enamel of the teeth. The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin. Keratosis pilaris is more common in females and originates either during childhood or adolescence. The affected skin tends to feel rough and the usual sites to be affected are the backs of the upper arms, the front of the thighs and the buttocks. It tends to clear in the majority of people in adult life. The cause of the condition is unknown. Moisturisers tend not to have any effect on the condition. Keratolytic agents (drugs that break down keratin) are helpful. The commonest used is salicylic acid in a cream base and this can be made up by the chemist in a variety of dilutions. You should discuss this option with your GP who can provide you with the necessary prescription.