What are common keratosis pilaris treatments?

Because keratosis pilaris isn’t harmful, you usually don’t need to treat it. For some people, the bumps go away on their own or become less noticeable by about age 30. You may also notice that the bumps go away in the summer and only become noticeable in the winter.

If the bumps bother you, treatment with moisturizers, creams and gentle skin care may help your symptoms.

Treatments your healthcare provider may recommend can include:

Over-the-counter moisturizing lotions

Dry skin can make keratosis pilaris worse. Applying an over-the-counter moisturizer keeps skin hydrated, minimizing and softening the bumps. Apply several times each day, especially after showering while your skin is still damp. Moisturizers with ammonium lactate and alpha hydroxyl acids, such as Am-Lactin or CeraVe SA cream, are the best choices for rough, bumpy skin and people with keratosis pilaris.

Medicated creams

Your healthcare provider can tell you if prescription-strength moisturizers may be right for you. The ingredients urea and alpha-hydroxy acids can sometimes improve the look of keratosis pilaris. Medicated vitamin A creams, such as Retin-A, can help decrease the buildup of dead skin cells that causes keratosis pilais. Be careful not to use too much. Overuse of these medicated creams can irritate your skin.

Exfoliating

Use a loofah to gently brush the affected areas of your skin while you shower or bathe. Make sure not to scrub too hard. Scrubbing can irritate your skin and make your symptoms worse.

Laser treatments

Laser treatments can be offered by a dermatologist. These treatments can help improve the redness associated with keratosis pilaris.

Gentle skin care

Most people find their keratosis pilaris improves when they change their routine to avoid dry skin. Changes can include:

  • Taking shorter showers (15 minutes or less).
  • Using lukewarm versus hot water in baths or showers.
  • Using a humidifier, which can help hydrate your skin.
  • Using moisturizers daily.

Keep in mind that these keratosis pilaris treatments are temporary. You’ll need to continue treatments to see continued improvements. Some people don’t see any benefit from treatment. Fortunately, keratosis pilaris is not harmful, only annoying. It does not lead to long-term damage to the skin.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/29/2018.

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