Keratosis Pilaris | Treatment

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How is keratosis pilaris treated?

There is no cure for keratosis pilaris, but certain medicines and home remedies can help. If home remedies aren’t effective, your doctor may suggest the following:

  • Lactic acid lotions to reduce roughness and soften the tiny plugs
  • Alpha hydroxy, or glycolic, acid lotions to reduce scaling and help the skin retain moisture
  • Urea creams to moisturize and soften the skin and help loosen dead skin cells
  • Salicylic acid lotion to soften and loosen dry, scaly or thickened skin
  • Topical corticosteroids to reduce itching
  • Topical retinoids, such as tretinoin, adapalene and tazarotene, to promote cell turnover and prevent hair follicles from plugging

You can’t prevent keratosis pilaris, but you can minimize your symptoms by following your doctor’s suggestions. It may be weeks to months before you see results, so be patient. Also, keep your treatment plan going even if the bumps go away. Keratosis pilaris often returns when treatment is stopped.

Tips to help improve the appearance of your skin:

  • Wash your skin gently. Avoid scrubbing the affected area of your skin. Use warm (not hot) water and a mild soap (some brand names: Cetaphil, Lubriderm, Purpose). Avoid deodorant or soaps with a strong fragrance.
  • Pat dry (don’t rub) your skin after showering or bathing.
  • Apply a moisturizer twice daily. Moisturizers that contain urea (some brand names: Eucerin, Lubriderm) are especially helpful because they soften dry, rough skin.
  • Use a humidifier to increase the humidity of your environment.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 02/11
Created: 10/09

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