Dry Skin and Keratosis Pilaris Treatments

Most people suffer from dry skin on occasion. Severe cases, however, can include cracks in the skin that may bleed and allow germs to enter the body and potentially invite infection. Extremely dry skin can lead to dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin. The earlier dermatitis is diagnosed and treated the better, for without treatment dermatitis often worsens. Another very common condition often present and worsened with dry skin is keratosis pilaris, which is characterized by itchy small hard “goosebumps” that can be red and swollen. Though harmless, keratosis pilaris is often embarrassing for those affected.

Causes: Frequently, environmental factors such as cold temperatures and low humidity, and behavioral factors such as frequent hand washing, long hot showers, swimming in a highly chlorinated pool, or use of harsh soap or detergent cause or contribute to dry skin. Keratosis pilaris is caused by excess skin buildup around individual hair follicles, leading to inflammation. The plugging of hair follicles can also lead to acne. Though it is hereditary, about half of those affected with keratosis pilaris have no family history.

Symptoms: Roughness, scales, flakes and itching anywhere on the body are symptoms of dry skin, whereas keratosis pilaris generally appears on the upper arms, fronts of thighs, buttocks, and less often, the face. The itching, dryness and sandpaper-like bumps may disappear in summer and reappear in winter, when environmental conditions tend to make skin drier.

Basic Formula for recovery/healing/improvement: A very close examination of the skin is necessary in order to recommend treatment. A moisturizer, especially one containing lactic acid or urea, may be prescribed to help skin retain water. For extremely dry skin, a topical cream, such as a corticosteroid or an immune modulator may be prescribed to relieve itching, redness and swelling. Keratosis pilaris may be treated with exfoliation, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, or medicines containing a retinoid, alpha hydroxyl acid, glycolic acid or salicylic acid. Lasers or light treatments may be used to reduce redness and swelling. Treatment generally takes 4 to 6 weeks, and sometimes a few different approaches must be tried for best results. Keratosis pilaris can gradually disappear over many years, though often the condition must be controlled with maintenance treatments.

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*Results may vary per patient. Services vary by location.