Due to the prevalence of keratosis pilaris, most people who suffer from this condition tend to brush off its warning signs and wait for them to subside on their own, not knowing it’s actually a skin disorder with a designated medical term.
Since keratosis pilaris is not a serious skin disease, its symptoms are mild in most cases. However, these telltale signs may become cosmetically disfiguring, especially for widespread atypical cases. This may lead to psychological stress and depression over time, which is why it’s important to diagnose and treat this condition as soon as you can, especially if you feel like it’s keeping you from living a normal life.1
Keep an Eye Out for These Telltale Signs
Keratosis pilaris is a chronic skin condition, which means that its symptoms may come and go unexpectedly. Here are some of the common signs that you should watch out for:
- Painless small bumps: Bumps are probably the most common symptom of keratosis pilaris. These are usually painless and very tiny – they can be as small as a grain of sand. The bumps also come in a variety of colors, such red, pink, tan or white.3
- Rough skin texture: Rough skin texture is a common complaint among keratosis pilaris sufferers. This is usually caused by the scaly plugs in the hair follicles, which are formed through keratin buildup. A small, coiled hair trapped inside the follicle may also cause roughness.4
- Dry skin: This symptom of keratosis pilaris may be more noticeable during the winter months, when there’s less moisture in the air.5
- Skin redness: Skin redness occurs when keratin causes small blood vessels on the upper skin layers to dilate. This may also be due to inflammation.6
- Itchiness: This symptom is triggered by dry skin, and it usually occurs together with inflammation.7
The warning signs of keratosis pilaris usually occur on the following body parts:8
Back of the upper arms
Front of the thighs
It’s more common for children to develop keratosis pilaris on their upper arms, thighs and cheeks. For teens and adults, bumps may appear on the upper arms, thighs and buttocks.9 Some rare cases of this skin condition may also affect the eyebrows, scalp and even the entire body.
Moreover, the severity of keratosis pilaris may vary with every flare up. While most patients report an improvement in their condition with increasing age, others experience an exacerbation of warning signs.10 In case you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, talk to a physician to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
How Is Keratosis Pilaris Diagnosed?
When diagnosing keratosis pilaris, your physician may ask if you’re suffering from other skin disorders, such as eczema or ichthyosis, since people with pre-existing skin conditions are more likely to develop keratosis pilaris. Your doctor may also look into your family history, as genetics play a vital role in the development of this skin condition.
Mild cases of keratosis pilaris may be diagnosed by a simple clinical exam. However, for atypical cases, your doctor may require you to undergo skin biopsy.11 This procedure involves taking a small sample of skin tissue and examining it under a microscope to determine the exact type of skin condition that you have.12