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The Risks Associated With Treating Keratosis Pilaris Using Medical Science

Keratosis pilaris is a widespread and common skin disorder affecting nearly 40% of adults and up to 80% of adolescents. This condition occurs when a protective skin protein called keratin plugs hair follicles. Rough, bumpy patches of skin result from this protein blockage, which can prompt irritation, redness, and itching. Although at-home remedies like moisturizing lotions may alleviate some symptoms, there is currently no known cure for keratosis pilaris. In fact, certain medical treatments for keratosis pilaris can actually increase your risk of bad side effects.

More-intensive medical treatments such as prescription corticosteroid creams or topical retinoids are sometimes suggested to soothe skin and reduce redness. However, these forms of treatment for keratosis pilaris are associated with minor risks. Retinoid creams like treinoin and tazarotene, for example, can create unpleasant skin irritations, such as severe dryness, redness, and peeling. Additionally, doctors advise that pregnant or nursing women delay any topical retinoid therapy or pursue an alternative treatment, as it can pose risks to infants.

Laser therapy is another more-intensive medical treatment for keratosis pilaris. If your symptoms involve severe redness and inflammation, your doctor may suggest that you pursue laser therapy. This form of treatment uses intense bursts of light over certain areas of skin, but can also involve risks such as infection, bleeding, scarring, and skin-color changes. Additionally, laser therapies have not been shown to cure keratosis pilaris. Because multiple laser-treatment sessions are required for this method to be effective, the risk of nasty side effects can be higher than the risks involved in other forms of treatment.

In-office treatments like chemical peels, dermabrasion, and photodynamic therapy are sometimes suggested to treat this condition if it persists. These methods may be moderately effective when performed by a physician, but can lead to scarring, redness, swelling, bleeding, acne, changes in skin color, and infection. These procedures also involve preparatory care plans that can last for two to four weeks, which may be inconvenient or challenging to maintain. Although medical science may be helpful in treating keratosis pilaris, it should not be relied upon exclusively. For milder and alternative methods, speak to your doctor about at-home and over-the-counter remedies.


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