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Keratosis pilaris: Signs and symptoms

What keratosis pilaris looks like

The rough-feeling bumps can appear in many colors, including skin colored and white.

Keratosis pilaris can appear in many colors, including skin colored and white

This common skin condition causes tiny bumps that can:

  • Feel rough and dry like sandpaper

  • Resemble the skin of a plucked chicken or goosebumps

  • Become more noticeable in winter or a dry climate

  • Itch

  • Appear in different colors, including the same color as your skin, white, red, pinkish purple (on fair skin), and brownish black (on dark skin)

Some people have a few flesh-colored bumps. Others have noticeable bumps that look like pimples or a rash.

Where keratosis pilaris appears

These bumps can appear anywhere on your skin, except on your palms and soles. Bumps on the arms are common. Most people will see these bumps appear in the following areas:

Children: Upper arms, thighs (front), and cheeks

Teens and adults: Upper arms, thighs (front), and buttocks

Some people develop so many bumps on their skin that the bumps extend to their lower legs and forearms.

Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

Alai AN. “Keratosis pilaris clinical presentations.” Medscape. Last updated June 19, 2014.

Park J, Kim BJ, et. al. “A pilot study of Q-switched 1064-nm Nd:YAG laser treatment in the keratosis pilaris.” Ann Dermatol. Aug 2011; 23(3): 293–298.

Thomas M, Khopkar US. “Keratosis pilaris revisited: Is it more than just a follicular keratosis?” Int J Trichology. 2012 Oct;4(4):255-8.

Yang G, Bordeaux J, et. al. “Prospective right/left comparison of azeleic acid and cetaphil for treatment of keratosis pilaris.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Apr;66(4) Supp. 1: AB167.

Zhu JW, Lu ZF, et. al. “Unilateral generalized keratosis pilaris following pregnancy.” Cutis. 2014 Oct;94(4):203-5.