Many teens suffer from rough, red pimples of the outer sides of their arms, and some teens may even have the same “rash” on their thighs.
The professional name of this phenomena is called "Keratosis pilaris.” The name’s frightening, but the basic meaning is clogged pores. These rough, red pimples are a benign rash that’ll usually improve in adulthood.
The condition’s common — it affects between 50 80% of adolescents, but less than 40% of adults. Most people with keratosis pilaris don’t know they have it OR mistake the rough, red bumps for acne. Keratosis pilaris usually improves during the humid summer months and then gets worse during the winter.
There are two types and manifestations of keratosis pilaris. Keratosis pilaris alba appears as rough, dry, bumpy skin without irritation. Keratosis pilaris rubra presents as red, inflamed bumps that may look like acne pustules. Keratosis pilaris starts when keratin — a hard protein on the skin—builds up and forms a scaly plug that blocks the openings of hair follicles, causing patches of sandpapery skin.
Wondering how to treat this? We’re here to help. Be wary of harsh cleansers, exfoliators and scrubs — they will make keratosis pilaris worse. Keratosis pilaris is most improved with moisture. Have your teen shower with lukewarm water and use a gentle cleanser. They should always moisturize immediately after the shower when the skin is still humid. Applying a thick lotion or cream will seal in the moisture and prevent keratin build-up.
The best creams to fight keratosis pilaris contain ammonium lactate. Ammonium lactate softens the keratin plugs and smoothens the skin. The same effect can be achieved with urea creams. Topical retinoids (Derived from vitamin A) can work by promoting cell turnover and preventing the plugging of the sebaceous gland openings, too. These should be tried in the more severe cases.