Keratosis Pilaris in Kids: Reasons, Signs & Treatment

Symptoms and Treatment of Keratosis Pilaris in Children

Children with keratosis pilaris usually have small or tiny, crusty, red, or pale pink-colored bumps on certain affected areas of the skin. The bumps or rashes usually feel scaly and coarse, but are normally not itchy. It is only a cosmetic condition. However, there can be considerable disparity in the level of prominence and harshness of keratosis pilaris from one kid to another.

What Is Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a general and chronic skin condition. This long-term skin condition brings about small and rough bumps that are flesh-colored or pink on the skin, in places of the hair follicles. These scaly bumps are excess keratin, which is a kind of protein that is usually a part of hair, nails, and skin. There is no scientific evidence on what causes this excess keratin. Keratosis pilaris in kids is caused when their hair follicles are blocked with dead skin cells and scales, contrary to the usual exfoliation.

If you’re wondering, what does keratosis pilaris look like, the bumps commonly appear on the upper arms, thighs, cheeks, and buttocks. The bumps feel like sandpaper, and may worsen in cold weather. This condition is not contagious, and may be hereditary. However, for many, the keratosis pilaris disappears as the kids become older.

What Are the Causes of Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is an outcome of the build-up of extra keratin. Keratin is a hard protein that guards the skin against unsafe, toxic materials and infections, which may be due to both internal and external factors. This keratin develops a scaly block that prevents the hair follicle from opening. Usually, many scaly blocks are developed, and hence, rough patches of bumpy skin are caused.

A hair follicle is nothing but a pore from which every hair on our body grows. Typically, there are more than thousands of hair follicles spread across our bodies. When dead cells in the skin clog these pores or hair follicles, keratosis pilaris is formed, causing rough and dry patches in the skin.

The reason for this excess build-up of keratin is unknown, and even experts are as yet unsure about the causes. However, studies suggest that extra keratin may arise in connection with genetic diseases. It is often also linked with other skin conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis. If your kid has dry skin, it may be likely to aggravate this condition more.

Common Symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris in Children

Keratosis pilaris can come at any age, but it is more frequent and widespread in small children. The symptoms of keratosis pilaris in toddlers and children may vary from one kid to another. It usually varies differently in each kid. However, the following are the common symptoms of keratosis pilaris in children:

  • Small and painless bumps that normally occur on the thighs, cheeks, upper arms, or buttocks
  • Dry, scaly skin in the affected areas with bumps
  • Experiences of rough and dry texture like sandpaper
  • Gets more prominent and worsens during seasonal changes such as winter, dry climate, and times with low humidity where skin tends to get drier
  • Occurs in diverse colors such as the skin color, red, white, pinkish-purple, and brownish-black, depending on complexion


There are some cases where the symptoms of keratosis pilaris may seem like other health conditions. Therefore, it is imperative to see the doctor for an immediate diagnosis.

The doctor usually enquires about your child’s symptoms and health history to analyze the condition. As excess keratin may also be caused due to genes, the doctor may also enquire about your family’s health history. Physical examination by closely observing your child’s skin is the most important step in the diagnosis.

There is no further testing required to diagnose the skin condition, as usually children with keratosis pilaris may have added sensitive and dry skin conditions, such as eczema.

Keratosis Pilaris Treatment

There is no specific cure for keratosis pilaris, but the symptoms can be treated to some extent. Keratosis pilaris can get better with age, and treatment may enhance the form of the bumps. The keratosis pilaris baby remedies include:

1. Decreasing the Size of the Bumps

Doctors prescribe specialized keratosis pilaris lotions and creams, along with other medicines such as lactic acid, urea, salicylic acid, or tretinoin to reduce the size of the bumps.

2. Keeping the Skin Moisturized

Applying lotions or unscented moisturizers such as petroleum jelly helps in moisturizing the skin.

3. Using Mild Soaps

As kids have sensitive skin, using mild soaps instead of harsh ones helps in preventing the worsening of the condition.

Proper and regular treatment with a combination of the above methods is not the final step, as you can anticipate your child’s rash to come back at times. The keratosis pilaris seems to go away when the kids get older, but often reverts if the treatment is stopped.

How to Take Care of a Child with Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a chronic skin condition. The skin condition may be highly irritating for a child, as he may get bothered by the sudden shift in the cosmetic appearance. Here are a few tips to take care of your child with keratosis pilaris:

1. Regular Skin Care

You can manage this condition with regular skincare, such as reducing the bumps and keeping the skin moisturized.

2. Avoiding New Products for Skin

Your child’s skin is tender and rough due to keratosis pilaris, so avoid using new skin products that may pose side-effects.

3. Using a Humidifier

As dry climate aggravates the condition, you may use a humidifier when the air gets dry.

4. Shorter Showers and Baths

To prevent drying out your kid’s skin, limit his baths to less than 10 minutes, and use warm water instead of hot water.

5. Talk to Your Child

It is important as a parent to talk and help your child understand the condition, and the different ways to treat it to get better.

When to See a Doctor

You may visit the doctor or a dermatologist immediately if the following happens:

  • Existing symptoms worsen
  • New symptoms arise
  • The scaly skin starts to itch or burn
  • Change in appearance or color of the affected area

Can keratosis pilaris be prevented, is a big question that every parent asks. For many, keratosis pilaris gradually goes away, even if you choose not to treat it. It is hard to treat, so leave it to time for a complete cure.

Also Read:

Pimples on Child’s Skin
Home Remedies for Scars in Children
Alopecia Areata in Kids

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Aarohi Achwal holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and a master’s degree in English Literature. While working as an intern for an English daily, she realised that she likes writing above anything else. The idea of being heard without having to speak appeals to her. She likes to write research-based articles that are informative and relevant. She has written articles on pregnancy, parenting, and relationships. And she would like to continue creating content on health and lifestyle.