Keratosis Pilaris in Children: Care Instructions


Keratosis pilaris is a skin problem. It hardens the skin around pores or hair follicles. A hair follicle is the place where a hair begins to grow.

Children may have small, red bumps anywhere on their skin, but often on their cheeks, arms, or thighs. You might notice them more in winter than summer.

The bumps may come and go. Often, they go away as a child gets older.

In some cases, this skin problem is passed down from family members. It is more common in children who have asthma, hay fever, eczema, or other skin problems.

This problem is not an infection, and it is not contagious. Your child can't spread it to others. It also won't hurt your child and it usually doesn't itch. Regularly applying a moisturizing cream may help your child's skin look better.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Use a gentle soap or cleanser that won't dry your child's skin. Good choices are Aveeno, Dove, and Neutrogena.
  • Put a mild, over-the-counter moisturizing cream on your child's skin. A product with lactic acid, salicylic acid, or urea may help. Follow the directions on the container.
  • If your child's doctor prescribes a cream, use it as directed. If the doctor prescribes medicine, give it exactly as directed.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.