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Keratosis Pilaris

This harmless skin condition causes tiny, rough-feeling bumps on the skin.

What is keratosis pilaris? Keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition, which appears as tiny bumps on the skin. Some people say these bumps look like goosebumps or the skin of a plucked chicken. Others mistake the bumps for small pimples.

These rough-feeling bumps are actually plugs of dead skin cells. The plugs appear most often on the upper arms and thighs (front). Children may have these bumps on their cheeks.

Keratosis pilaris is harmless. If the itch, dryness, or the appearance of these bumps bother you, treatment can help. Treatment can ease the symptoms and help you see clearer skin.

Treating dry skin often helps. Dry skin can make these bumps more noticeable. In fact, many people say the bumps clear during the summer only to return in the winter. If you decide not to treat these bumps and live in a dry climate or frequently swim in a pool, you may see these bumps year-round.

The rough-feeling bumps can appear in many colors, including skin-colored and white.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do dermatologists diagnose keratosis pilaris?

To diagnose this condition, your dermatologist will examine your skin — looking closely at the skin that shows signs of keratosis pilaris.

What causes keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is not contagious. We get keratosis pilaris when dead skin cells clog our pores. A pore is also called a hair follicle. Every hair on our body grows out of a hair follicle, so we have thousands of hair follicles. When dead skin cells clog many hair follicles, you feel the rough, dry patches of keratosis pilaris.

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