Keratosis pilaris - best treatments

Teen Rough Arm Pimples

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.

What is "Acne on the arms"?

The professional name of “acne on the arms” is "Keratosis pilaris.” The name’s frightening, but the basic meaning is clogged pores. Keratosis pilaris happens when your skin pores become blocked with a build-up of keratin resulting in rough, red pimples. It will usually improve in adulthood.

Is keratosis pilaris hereditary?

It is usually found in more than one member of a family. The way it is inherited varies from family to family, but it often fits into an ‘autosomal dominant’ pattern; this means that there will be a 1 in 2 chance that each child of an affected parent will inherit the condition.

Why do I have pimples on my arms?

The condition’s common. Keratosis pilaris affects 50-80% of adolescents, but less than 40% of adults. Most people with rough bumps on their arms 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.

What are the different types of "acne on the arms"?

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.

What is the best treatment for keratosis pilaris?

Be wary of harsh cleansers, exfoliators, and scrubs — they will make rough acne bumps on the arms and thighs 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.

What are the best treatment options for keratosis pilaris?

The best treatment creams to fight white, non-irritated keratosis pilaris contain salicylic acid or lactic acid. Salicylic acid and lactic acids are beta hydroxy acids that soften the keratin plugs and smoothens the skin. The same effect can be achieved with urea creams. In more severe cases, when one has red keratosis pilaris (on the arms and thighs the area can be effectively treated with micronized (microparticle) benzoyl peroxide 5%. These unique form of benzoyl peroxide was specially formulated to penetrate better the skin pores, loosening the keratin plugs and smoothing the skin. Deeper penetration of the microparticles of benzoyl peroxide into the pores means that less of the molecules stay on the surface, reduction risj=k redness and dryness.

What to avoid when you have acne on your arms?

  1. Avoid tight clothing that would rub on your skin.
  2. Shower immediately after sports to prevent the sweat and humidity clog your skin pores.
  3. Avoid Perfumed soaps, or bathing products can irritate or dry out your skin
  4. Never use harsh scrubs or 10% benzoyl washes on your skin. This damage the outer layer of the skin, over dry the skin and will make your arm “acne” worse.
  5. Always shower with cold or lukewarm water. These are better for your skin.
  6. Never scratch, pick or rub your arm or thigh skin – this can leave long-term scars.

What is the best skincare routine for people with acne on their arms?

The best skin care routine will include a medicated acne cleanser with 2% salicylic acid to unclog the pores, an active body acne treatment with benzoyl peroxide 5% and a good active moisturizer preferably to hydrate and smooth the skin.

To purchase MDacne's body acne and keratosis pilaris night treatment cream click right here.
To purchase MDacne's soothing face and body moisturizer click right here.

Image callout

Start your journey
to clear skin

  • Custom acne treatment cream, cleanser and moisturizer
  • Unlimited Dermatologist support
  • Ongoing skin monitoring