What is the treatment for keratosis pilaris?

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Many treatment options and skin care recipes are available for controlling keratosis pilaris. Often there is very good temporary improvement following a regular skin care program of lubrication. As a general rule of thumb, treatment needs to be continuous. Since there is no available cure or universally effective treatment for keratosis pilaris, the list of potential lotions and creams is long. It is important to keep in mind that as with any condition, no therapy is uniformly effective in all people. Complete clearing may not be possible. In some cases, keratosis pilaris may also improve or clear spontaneously without any treatment.

Health care providers recommend general measures to prevent excessive skin dryness, such as using mild soapless cleansers. Frequent skin lubrication is the mainstay of treatment for nearly all cases.

Basic over-the-counter moisturizers such as Cetaphil lotion or Aquaphor ointment may improve mild cases of keratosis pilaris. Additional available therapeutic options for more difficult cases of keratosis pilaris include lactic-acid lotions (AmLactin, Lac-Hydrin), alpha-hydroxy-acid lotions (Glytone, glycolic body lotions), urea cream (Carmol 10, Carmol 20, Carmol 40, Urix 40), salicylic acid (Salex lotion), topical tretinoin cream (Retin A), and topical steroid creams (triamcinolone 0.1%). Recently, medical professionals have recommended laser treatment for keratosis pilaris. New unproven treatments include topical chlorine dioxide complex wash, ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (Nitrosomonas eutropha) spray on mist, and photopneumatic therapy. People have tried many treatments for keratosis pilaris, including carbon dioxide laser with mixed results. As there is no miraculous cure or universally effective treatment for keratosis pilaris, it is important to proceed with caution.

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Rarely, physicians may prescribe a short seven- to 10-day course of a medium-potency, emollient-based topical steroid cream once or twice a day for itchy, inflamed red areas.

Because keratosis pilaris is generally a chronic condition requiring long-term maintenance, most therapies would require repeated or long-term use for optimum results.

Mild cleansers and lotions for sensitive skin: Wash daily, and apply lotion twice a day.

  • Cetaphil
  • Dove
  • Eucerin
  • Curel

Potent moisturizers for home treatment: Use once or twice a day.

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  • Lactic-acid lotions (AmLactin, Lac-Hydrin)
  • Alpha-hydroxy-acid lotions (Glytone, Citrix glycolic body lotion 15%)
  • Urea creams (Carmol 10, Carmol 20, Carmol 40, Urix 40)
  • Salicylic-acid lotions (Salex 6%)
  • Compounded 3% salicylic acid in 20% urea cream