Many treatment options and skin-care recipes are available for controlling the signs of keratosis pilaris. Many patients have very good temporary improvement following a regular skin-care program of lubrication. As a general rule of thumb, treatment needs to be continuous. Since there is no available cure or universally effective treatment for keratosis pilaris, the list of potential lotions and creams is long. It is important to keep in mind that as with any condition, no therapy is uniformly effective in all people. Complete clearing may not be possible. In some cases, keratosis pilaris may also improve or clear spontaneously without any treatment.
General measures to prevent excessive skin dryness, such as using mild soapless cleansers, are recommended. Frequent skin lubrication is the mainstay of treatment for nearly all cases.
Mild cases of keratosis pilaris may be improved with basic over-the-counter moisturizers such as Cetaphil or Lubriderm lotions. Additional available therapeutic options for more difficult cases of keratosis pilaris include lactic-acid lotions (AmLactin, Lac-Hydrin), alpha-hydroxy-acid lotions (Glytone, glycolic body lotions), urea cream (Carmol 10, Carmol 20, Carmol 40, Urix 40), salicylic acid (Salex lotion), and topical steroid creams (triamcinolone 0.1%).
The affected area should be washed once or twice a day with a gentle wash like Cetaphil or Dove. Lotions should be gently massaged into the affected area two to three times a day. Irritated or abraded skin should be treated only with bland moisturizers until the inflammation resolves.
Occasionally, physicians may prescribe a short seven- to 10-day course of a medium-potency, emollient-based topical steroid cream once or twice a day for inflamed red areas.
Many treatments have been used in keratosis pilaris without consistent results. As there is no miraculous cure or universally effective treatment for keratosis pilaris, it is important to proceed with caution and lower expectations.
Because keratosis pilaris is generally a chronic condition requiring long-term maintenance, most therapies would require repeated or long-term use for optimum results.
Mild cleansers and lotions for sensitive skin: Wash daily, and apply lotion twice a day.
Potent moisturizers for home treatment: Use once or twice a day.
- Lactic-acid lotions (AmLactin, Lac-Hydrin)
- Alpha-hydroxy-acid lotions (Glytone, Citrix glycolic body lotion 15%)
- Urea creams (Carmol 10, Carmol 20, Carmol 40, Urix 40)
- Salicylic-acid lotions (Salex 6%)
- Compounded 3% salicylic acid in 20% urea cream
What is the prognosis of patients with keratosis pilaris?
Overall, keratosis pilaris is a chronic skin condition periodically becoming worse or better. Keratosis pilaris is a benign, noncontagious, self-limited skin condition that tends to be mild. Keratosis pilaris frequently improves with age in many patients. Many patients note improvement of their symptoms in the summer months and seasonal flares in colder winter months. More widespread, atypical cases of keratosis pilaris may be cosmetically distressing.