Keratosis pilaris is a very common condition which affects the hair follicle. Usually it is referred to as 'chicken skin' and 'goose bump skin' because of the rough bumps that appear on the skin as a result of the condition.
Originally, they pop-up on the back and outer sides of the upper arms, but can also appear on the thighs and buttocks. Actually the bumps can appear on any body part, except areas where there is no hair, such as the palms of the hands. Globally, keratosis pilaris afflicts an estimated 40 to 50 percent of the adult population and approximately 50 to 80 percent of all adolescents. Keratosis pilaris can vary in its intensity from slight to severe.
Cause of Keratosis Pilaris
Excess keratin, a natural fibrous protein found in human hair and nails, is to blame for Keratosis pilaris, as the keratin clogs pores. The proper term used to describe this process is called hyperkeratinization.
Keratosis pilaris is unattractive, and it most often appears as a proliferation of small hard bumps that are seldom sore or itchy. In the colder months the condition becomes more pronounced as the bumps spread throughout the body and become harder and redder in the dry cold air of the environment, but the condition stays with the patient all year round.
Types of Keratosis Pilaris
Many kinds of keratosis pilaris afflict people, including keratosis pilaris rubra (red, inflamed bumps), alba (asperous, bumpy skin with no irritation), and rubra faceii (red rash on the cheeks).
Keratosis pilaris alba is the more common variant and is characterized by small gray-white papules with a slight inflammatory component.
The next type, keratosis pilaris rubra, has a highly inflammatory component and presents itself as small red papules. In the colder weather this type of keratosis pilaris is at its worst.
Cells that have keratin are continually being shed and replaced by new ones. The aliment known as dandruff results when the scalp sheds such cells.
Hormonal influence may play a part in keratosis pilaris because a high prevalence and intensity of the condition is noted during adolescence and in women with hyperandrogenism. In severe cases, the pores can become blocked and produce acne. Resembling comedones, keratinized plugs will form around the hair follicle.
Keratosis Pilaris Treatment
Treatment is sought after by people with keratosis pilaris because it is an unsightly condition. Occasionally, the bumps may become secondarily infected because of scratchy, tight-fitting clothing or aggressive self-therapy, in which case treatment of the infection is needed. Topical steroid therapy is prescribed for significant inflammation. Non-inflamed papules have proven resistant to most types of therapy, making treatment for them very difficult.
Keratosis Pilaris: Alternative Treatments
Treatment alternatives for keratosis pilaris concentrate on exfoliating or softening the dermis to reduce blocked pores. Alternative methods for treating keratosis pilaris include complying with daily habits that won't worsen the papules and avoiding chemically based creams. Applying a mild cleansing scrub to the affected area is a typical step in the treatment process. The objective is to cleanse and open the pores of the skin. Other measures for a great keratosis pilaris treatment include taking tepid, brief showers, healthy skin cream and using a humidifier, especially during the cold months when low humidity dries out the skin.
Frequently Asked Questions
what is this spot?
well its not a spot its bin there as far as i remeber, its a small lump, the same colour as my skin, but raised slightly, and its on my back. everytime i have an itchy back its semms to lead to there.
its only tiny tho, and has been there for years
Danger signs to look for on any skin lesion:
I. Assymmetry, one side don't look like the other side;
II. Boarder Irregularity: The edges are irregular, notched, or blurred;
III. Color: Shades of black, tan, white, grey, silver, pink, and blue; IV. Diameter: greater than a pencil eraser.
This is the basic things to look for in any skin lesion. Skin cancer is the #1 human cancer diagnosed in the USA with more than 1 million new cases a year. 1/2 of all people who live to be 65 years old will develop a skin cancer. The basic skin cancers are:
I. Squamous Cell
II. Basal Cell
The problem is a Primary care doctor will only diagnose 90% of the skin cancers, that leaves 10% that will go undetected! This is not acceptable, when they can lead to morbidity, and Mortality!
Check your spot, and make sure it does not fall into one of these types.
It most likely is not a skin cancer because you said it had been there for a long time, as long as you can remember.
Other benigh skin lesions are Actinic Keratosis, which is a precancerous lesion, eczyma, Molluscum (DNA POX VIRUS usually), wart, mole, and acme.
I doubt it is a cyst, as unless infected, or getting infected, it should not itch.
I wish you could take a picture of it, and send it to me, and I would give you more help. The main thing is that it does not fit into the 4 above lesions. If it does, go and see your Doctor.
If you can get someone to look at it real close, have them see if they can see any hair growing in the lesion. If they can, it almost never is cancer, as cancer grows so fast, that it uses all of the nutrients, and the hair can not grow!
Hope this helps!