Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are the red spots on my legs keratosis?"
I have a lot of little red bumps on my legs and my friend says it looks like keratosis. What is keratosis? Is it contagious? Did I catch it from someone? Maybe from my friend?
Your friend is talking about keratosis pilaris. This is a benign skin condition which is actually inherited. It is often mistaken for many small pimples in the skin, but it is distinct. In keratosis pilaris, the skin makes too much keratin, which plugs up pores. Unlike acne, the 'pimples' from keratosis pilaris tend to be drier, not inflammed, and more uniformly distributed. Acne is more likely to have multiple spots of difference size, to include white heads, and to be painful. Additionally, keratosis pilaris tends to occur is specific locations, specifically the outer surface of the upper arms, the upper surface of the thighs, and the buttocks. If you think you might have keratosis pilaris, of if you are worried it might be acne or a skin infection, you should go see your primary care doctor, who will be able to confirm the diagnosis. If it does turn out to be keratosis pilaris, there is no need to treat it as long as it is not bothersome to you. If you do find it to be cosmetically undesirable, then you can start with gentle exfoliation, including some acne care products, which will help to clean out the clogged pores. If this does not work, your doctor can suggest other treatments.
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