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What Causes Red Bumps (Keratosis Pilaris) on the Backs of Arms?


Question: What Causes Red Bumps (Keratosis Pilaris) on the Backs of Arms?
Are you plagued by red bumps (a.k.a. 'keratosis pilaris') on the backs of your arms? So was my editor, so I did a bit of research to find out how to get rid of them.
Answer: Those little rough red or white bumps that annoyingly plaque the backs of arms and sometimes the thighs are called "keratosis pilaris." They're not acne, it's actually a genetic follicular skin condition that's also known as "chicken skin" because of it's resemblance to, well, chicken skin.

Who does it affect? Kerastosis pilaris affects almost half of all adults and up to 80 percent of adolescents.

What causes it? Keratosis pilaris develops when the skin produces excess keratin which traps hair follicles causing them to plug up. This can result in a thickening of the skin.

How to get rid of it? Topical treatments are your best bet. Skip the acne creams, and apply one these topical treatments commonly used to treat keratosis pilaris:

1. Moisturizer with lactic acid or urea. Used twice daily, this treatment helps dissolve the thickened skin, according to Jeannette Graf, a professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, in Allure magazine. Graf recommends over-the-counter AmLactin 12% Moisturizing Cream.

2. If the OTC product doesn't work, ask your dermatologist or family doctor for prescription Carmol 10 or Lac-Hydrin.

3. Avoid hot showers and abrasive scrubs. Scrubbing the area only exacerbates the problem.

4. Ask your doctor about topical retinol products such as Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Evita or Adapalene. Retinols increase new cell turnover and help unclog pores.

5. Topical corticosteroids are sometimes prescribed for a short time period. They provide temporary relief, but can only be used short term, because they have long-term health benefits.

6. Invest in a humidifier in your bedroom when a furnace is in use in your home. More moisture in the air means less dry skin.

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