Understanding Keratosis Pilaris – Diagnosing Keratosis Pilaris
Keratosis pilaris is a common skin disorder in which a protective skin protein called keratin creates hard plugs inside hair follicles. This blockage leads to rough, bumpy patches on the upper arms, thighs, and buttocks that give keratosis pilaris its trademark “chicken skin” appearance.
To determine whether you have keratosis pilaris, your doctor or nurse will usually just look at your skin. Further tests are not needed in most cases, as the condition is visually obvious and does not involve serious medical complications.
There are currently no laboratory or skin tests available to diagnose keratosis pilaris definitively or to differentiate it from similar skin issues. Instead, your family doctor or nurse will make a diagnosis based on an examination of your skin and a review of your medical history. He or she will also ask you questions about your symptoms and any other issues that may be related to a skin disorder.
If you see your doctor for a potential keratosis pilaris diagnosis, he or she will also attempt to rule out other medical conditions. He or she will likely ask you when you first noticed these symptoms, what seems to make them better or worse, and whether anyone in your family has experienced similar skin problems. Based on your answers to these questions, he or she may refer you to a dermatologist for more-specialized skin treatments if necessary.
No single treatment has been found to improve the symptoms of keratosis pilaris in all patients. Generally, however, treatment options focus on softening the keratin deposits in your skin to alleviate symptoms like redness, itching, and irritation. Protecting the skin from dryness and loss of moisture another primary focus of therapies for keratosis pilaris.
The treatments for keratosis pilaris usually involve rich, gentle moisturizing creams and oils. Topical exfoliants and retinoid creams are also common treatment methods to promote cell turnover and prevent keratin plugging. Some individuals have found laser therapy to be effective as well in improving the appearance of your skin.
If you suffer from keratosis pilaris, it is important to continue with your medication and at-home treatments, since discontinuing treatment often causes the condition to return.
Understanding Keratosis Pilaris – Differentiating Keratosis Pilaris From Similar Skin Conditions
Keratosis pilaris occurs when plugs form in hair follicles as the result of the buildup of keratin, a protective skin protein. These blocked follicles prevent hairs from pushing through to the skin’s surface, which creates tiny, rough bumps. Body surfaces that have fine-hair growth are the most commonly affected areas, such as the upper arms, thighs, and sometimes buttocks or face.
Sometimes keratosis pilaris can be confused with other skin conditions, such as symptoms of an unhealthy diet. For example, some children are mistakenly diagnosed with keratosis pilaris, when in fact they are experiencing a rash as the result of poor fat consumption. Once they maintain healthy levels of fats from nuts, olive oil, and fish, their skin irritation and bumpy patches disappear.
Other skin conditions that may resemble the “chicken skin” of keratosis pilaris include acne, eczema, xerosis, eruptive vellus hair cysts, folliculitis, and milia, among others. These skin problems generally involve inflammation of the hair follicles or superficial redness from irritants.
Additionally, the symptoms involved in skin issues like Darier disease, Kyrle disease, pityriasis rubra pilaris, lichen nitidus, lichen spinulosus, and trichostasis spinulosa are all associated with the body’s keratin production or superficial inflammation, or they are attributed to unknown causes.
Dry skin also makes these problems more likely, so doctors recommend exfoliating skin regularly with a gentle cleanser and moisturizing twice a day to treat and prevent these types of skin conditions.
Although this skin condition is common and usually harmless, you should be sure that you receive an accurate diagnose. Otherwise, treatments may not be effective, and your symptoms may worsen.
Because of this, it is important that you avoid making any self-diagnoses of skin conditions; instead, speak with your family doctor or with a dermatologist to ensure that you receive a thorough medical evaluation. Healthcare professionals usually diagnose keratosis pilaris by examining your skin and looking for the characteristic scaly plugs associated with this condition.
Once you have received an accurate diagnosis, follow your personal treatment plan consistently to ensure maximum effectiveness in reducing your symptoms. The most effective symptom reduction is associated with patients who closely follow a healthy skin routine.
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