Keratosis pilaris is a very common condition in which there are numerous tiny bumps usually found on the outer aspect of the upper arms, thighs, cheeks, forearms and upper back. The bumps give a sandpaper type texture to the skin. Keratosis pilaris is most common during the teenage years, and may also be present in babies and persist into adult life. Keratosis pilaris tends to be more severe during the winter months or other times of low humidity when skin dries out. Although unsightly at times and occasionally itchy, it is completely harmless.
Keratosis pilaris is a benign condition and treatment is typically only necessary for cosmetic reasons. Moisturizing creams containing urea, salicylic acid or alphahydroxy acids may be effective in opening the plugged hair follicles by removing excess skin. Topical retinoids and chemical peels may also help exfoliate the skin so the bumps become less noticeable. Therapy must be continued on a regular basis or the bumps may recur.