How To Treat Adolescent Keratosis Pilaris

How To Get Rid Of Chicken Skin | Children & Adults

The Skincare Routine That Works For Kids & Adults

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When my son entered toddlerhood, we noticed that the back of his arms were developing tiny little rough patches. And as he grew, those little rough patches started developing more pronounced little bumps that resembled tiny white pearls.

The bumps didn’t appear to bother him, they weren’t itchy, and during those early years, they weren’t very visible. However, I was still concerned, and addressed the issue with his pediatrician during every well check.

Unfortunately, I received the same answer at every visit: “They’re just harmless little cysts that’ll go away on their own”. That answer always frustrated me because the pediatrician could never give me an exact time line, and told me to just “exfoliate and moisturize” my son’s arms as part of his bathing routine.

Well, I did that for years and nothing changed. In fact, when my son turned 8 earlier this year, the Keratosis Pilaris started to grow out of control. The tiny white pearls on his upper arms had become enlarged and very visible.

They also started to sporadically spread down his arm toward his wrist, and tiny ones began to appear on his cheeks—but the worst ones were in the region above his elbow (see image below).

The Keratosis Pilaris doesn’t cause him any discomfort and they don’t itch. But, my son is at the age where he’s noticing that they are present, and that his friends don’t have them.

So a few months ago I decided to have him see his pediatrician again in an effort to obtain a referral to a dermatologist—someone who would take his condition seriously and give us a real sustainable solution.

Thankfully, his referral was approved and we were able to be seen by a local skincare professional.

Upon examining his arms, the dermatologist confirmed that my son had a pretty bad case of Keratosis Pilaris, and gave us a skincare routine to follow as well as a prescription for a retinoid cream called Tretinoin (a compound made from vitamin A).

And since those who suffer from Keratosis Pilaris are said to have a vitamin A deficiency, it makes perfect sense that this cream is prescribed to treat this condition, and in our case, it has been pretty darn successful.

Another cream that our dermatologist recommended along with the Tretinoin is the Cetaphil Rough and Bumpy daily smoothing moisturizer, which can be purchased at any store. This cream contains 20% salicylic acid, and we have been using it in combination with the Tretinoin, which helps keep his skin from drying out from the retinoid. It’s impressive how soft his skin feels, despite the texture from the bumps.

Keratosis Pilaris

Along with the creams, the Dermatologist instructed my son to gently scrub his skin with a bristle brush during his bathing routine. She said to use any kind of body wash that contains salicylic acid.

We went with the Cetaphil brand again, since we were given a generous amount of samples of the Cetaphil Rough and Bumpy daily smoothing moisturizer and it’s been working really well.

So just to recap, after his shower, we apply the two creams. The prescription Tretinoin goes on first, and after allowing it to dry, we apply the Cetaphil Rough and Bumpy smoothing moisturizer.

After a few weeks of treatment, his skin isn’t perfect, but the improvement is drastic! (See image below). We are going to keep at it, and I’m excited to see what the results will be in a few months.

What If I Can’t Afford To Afford To See A Dermatologist?

A lot of families have limited or no health insurance, and aren’t able to see a professional dermatologist. If you’re one of those people, I have good news for you!!

You can actually purchase a similar cream called Adapalene (0.1%), also a topical retinoid cream, on places like Amazon without a prescription for around $30.

My dermatologist said that they both work the same, and that both are highly effective for Keratosis Pilaris. It’s funny because my copay for my son’s Tretinoin prescription was actually $30 as well, so I could have just purchased the Adapalene gel.

Did Diet Cause My Child’s Keratosis Pilaris?

I asked our dermatologist the very same question because I read online that Keratosis Pilaris may be cause by a gluten allergy. She stated that there are no proven studies which warrant this, and that diet has nothing to do with this condition.

However, those with a vitamin A deficiency tend to develop this condition more often than individuals without a vitamin A deficiency. If you’re curious, you can have your child tested to see if they lack this vitamin. You can also increase their vitamin A through multivitamins or increase their intake through diet:

  • Carrots (or carrot juice)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Kale

Is There A Difference Between Keratosis Pilaris And Milia?

Keratosis Pilaris and milia (or milk spots) are two skin conditions that are often confused with one another.

Milia are small, white, hard bumps that form on the skin, usually around the eyes, nose, and cheeks and caused by a buildup of keratin, which is a protein found in the skin. Milia is most common in babies and young toddlers.

Keratosis Pilaris (or chicken skin), on the other hand, is a common skin condition that causes small, rough bumps to form on the skin, usually on the upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. This condition is more common in older children and adults.

Keratosis Pilaris is likewise caused by a buildup of keratin, which can block hair follicles and cause the bumps to form.

Final Thoughts

I sincerely hope that our experience with Keratosis Pilaris helps you find answers that you have been seeking.

Prior to finding treatment for my son, I have never been able to find anything online about adolescents dealing with this issue (other than WebMD), so I was determined to share our journey with other parents whose child is struggling with this condition.

If you have any other questions, please reach out in the comments!

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