Many parents reach out to us concerned about tiny bumps that suddenly appear on their young child’s skin and don’t go away. Some say they look like goose bumps or mistake them for small pimples. In all likelihood, it’s a common condition called keratosis pilaris.
These rough-feeling bumps are actually plugs of dead skin cells. The plugs appear most often on the upper arms and front thighs. Children may have these bumps on their cheeks.
Keratosis pilaris is harmless. If the itch, dryness, or the appearance of these bumps bothers you, treatment can help. Treatment can ease the symptoms and help you see clearer skin. Dry skin can make these bumps more noticeable. In fact, many say the bumps clear during the summer only to return in the winter.
People of all ages and races have this common skin condition. For most, it begins before age 2 or during the teenage years. Fewer adults have it because keratosis pilaris can fade and gradually disappear.
The bumps may clear by the time a child reaches late childhood or adolescence. Hormones, however, may cause another flare-up around puberty. When keratosis pilaris develops in the teenage years, it often clears by one’s mid-twenties. Women are a bit more likely to contract it.
To diagnose this condition, a dermatologist will examine your skin, looking closely at the skin that shows signs of the condition. Since it’s harmless, you don’t really need to treat it. If you do wish to treat it, a creamy moisturizer containing urea or lactic acid can soothe the itch and dryness.
To diminish the bumps and improve your skin’s texture, we often recommend exfoliating (removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin) with gentle rubbing with a washcloth, loofah (not on the face) or at-home microdermabrasion kit.
A laser or light treatment may work when moisturizer, medication or exfoliations don’t meet the result you hope for. We may recommend a type of laser to reduce the swelling and redness…or another type to improve your skin’s texture and reduce discoloration, including the brown spots that may appear when the bumps clear.
It’s always best not to take chances. A dermatologist can properly diagnose a condition you are concerned about and recommend a treatment plan that best meets your needs.