Keratosis Pilaris in Children: How Common Is It and Can They Grow Out Of It?
You just found out your child has a skin condition called Keratosis Pilaris, which is a common skin condition that affects the appearance of the skin. The bumps are rough and look red.
Although it is a chronic condition, there is a chance that it will improve or even disappear entirely as the child ages. Your doctor gave you the diagnosis, but you still have a lot of questions.
Like, how common is this skin condition, and how do you encourage the health of their skin now? Keep reading to find out the steps you can take to help the appearance of Keratosis Pilaris in small children and if they will grow out of it soon.
What Is Keratosis Pilaris?
We’ve all experienced bumps and rough texture on the skin, but what differentiates this skin condition from just a few pimples? You’ll be surprised to know that this condition can be found mostly in young children, even babies.
Although it sounds like an intimidating name, Keratosis Pilaris gets its name from overproducing a protein that affects hair follicles. It sounds scary, but it is actually nothing to worry about and is never painful.
Around 50% (up to 70%) of adolescents inherit Keratosis Pilaris (KP) from family members. This benign, non transmittable skin condition is seen more prevalently in children than adults.
Most children experience the symptoms like small, scaly bumps that indicate the overgrowth of Keratin that is found in the hair, skin, and nails. This is where the name Keratosis comes from.
Bumps can appear anywhere where there are hair follicles, for example:
These bumps sit on the hair follicles, are around 1-2 mm wide, and have a pointed appearance. They may appear red and blotchy or flesh-colored.
At first glance, they may look like goosebumps, but they have a rough texture. You may notice that the skin condition worsens in the winter and is better in the summer.
Most of the time, irritation only occurs when the skin gets too dry or if the bumps are scratched and physically aggravated.
What Are The Signs and Symptoms of KP?
Signs and symptoms may decrease and increase, depending on many factors, such as the weather, the time of year, and the dryness of the skin. They also vary from child to child. They could include:
- Small bumps in multiple regions of the body
- Rough, coarse texture over the areas with the small bumps
- Dry skin
- Goosebumps resembling sandpaper
Often these symptoms are first mistaken for an allergy, rosacea, eczema, or acne. Your doctor can often diagnose KP during a physical examination, and no other testing is required to determine the skin condition.
What Causes Keratosis Pilaris?
The cause of KP is still unknown, but it is shown that Keratosis Pilaris is usually found in more than one family member. The inheritance varies from case to case.
However, it follows an autosomal dominant, which means that one in two children of the parent with KP will develop the skin condition.
Most of the world experiences this skin condition, and most adults can manage the symptoms with consistent care.
As well as being a genetically predisposed condition, other drawbacks can come with a Keratosis Pilaris diagnosis. Some children also have accompanying skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and other health conditions, such as asthma.
How Do You Treat KP?
The appearance of the condition is known to lessen or disappear by age 30, but it cannot be cured or prevented with any treatment. There are some moisturizers and prescriptions that can reduce the appearance of Keratosis Pilaris in children.
If you are interested in treatment options, consult your doctor on what options fit your child best.
There are a few gentle at-home products that may help lessen the appearance of the bumps associated with KP:
- Using unscented, gentle moisturizers daily
- Apply moisturizers on damp skin
- Moisturizers that contain mild exfoliating agents such as ceramides
- A gentle corticosteroid may be used to combat any itchiness
- Avoid powerful exfoliants
- Avoid soaps and use a mild non-soap cleanser when bathing
Bumps and texture are known to return if the treatment methods stop. Don’t be discouraged if the appearance doesn’t improve. Most children outgrow the condition without any treatments.
In older children, treating the KP areas with mild acids and exfoliants may help the appearance of bumps and texture. This works because it temporarily unclogs the blocked follicle.
The use of an exfoliating body mitt can be used during baths and showers to help the texture and appearance of the bumps associated with Keratosis Pilaris. Typically, overbathing can worsen symptoms, as well as using water that is too hot.
Be mindful of using lukewarm water and not bathe your child excessively to avoid flare-ups.
Other strategies can help remedy some of the flare-ups your child may be experiencing. Consider investing in a humidifier to help them avoid being in a dry environment. Additionally, avoid using any fragrance on your child’s skin because it could worsen the condition.
When Should You Call The Doctor For Help?
It is important to seek urgent medical attention if you suspect an infection in the areas where your child has KP. Most infections occur from picking, scratching, or messing with the pimples and textured areas.
Symptoms of an infection include:
- Redness, swelling, warmth in the area
- Red streaks that are coming from the area
- Pus draining from the area
- A fever
- Pain at the site of infection
How To Help Manage Keratosis Pilaris
Keratosis Pilaris is a common, chronic skin condition that is passed down from family members. This condition is not painful but may cause your child to worry about the appearance of their skin. Even though there are no cures or prevention methods, it is relieving to know that it is often outgrown and can be managed through skincare methods.
Skincare habits are started early, so you must help your child understand the importance of daily treatments. Sometimes the best thing that can help a parent when a child is diagnosed with KP is to know what not to do.
Here are some of the essential tips when caring for your child with Keratosis Pilaris:
- Do not pick at your child’s skin, especially when the area is dry or flaky
- Remind your child not to pick at these areas
- Avoid roughly scrubbing your child’s skin while taking a bath or shower
- If they have to scratch, make sure they do it over their clothes. Establishing a safe scratch routine is important with small children
- Don’t skip bathing, just keep them short and at a cooler temperature
- Don’t skip their moisturizing routine. Moisturizers that are thicker in consistency are the best for your child’s skin
- Don’t forget to use sunscreen because the sun dehydrates the skin
Always address any areas of concern with your doctor or if a flare-up continues. When scheduling your appointment, preparation might help you get the answers you’ve needed about your child’s skin. Here are some things to consider:
- Brainstorm questions you have for your doctor and have a clear objective that you want to reach by the end of the appointment
- Consider bringing someone with you to your appointment to get a well-rounded idea of what next steps to take and to remember all the advice they give
- Write down the diagnosis and treatments to do further research on your own
- Write down any new instructions your doctor recommends
- Research any new medication that is prescribed so that you are aware of any side effects and reactions
- Ask about more treatment options in case the one recommended doesn’t work
- Consider charting the progress of your child’s skin in a chart or journal so that you can relay them to your doctor during your next visit. This could include photos or descriptions.
Suppose your child is experiencing symptoms that include a breakout of small pimples and rough texture in areas such as the cheeks and arms.
In that case, you may want to schedule an appointment with your doctor to receive an official diagnosis. Having an official diagnosis gives you and your child peace of mind and helps you decide which treatment methods to try.
Remember that treatment methods are trial and error, and what works for one child may not work for yours. Also, when using a treatment method, try not to switch up too many products because this could give the appearance of irritated skin.
Keratosis Pilaris in Children: Care Instructions | My Health
Keratosis Pilaris: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment | Nationwide Childrens
Keratosis pilaris | British Skin Foundation