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If the skin on your arms, thighs or butt has small bumps and feels rough and sandpapery, that's probably keratosis pilaris. Keratosis pilaris isn't medically serious -- that weird skin texture is caused by buildups of keratin, a harmless protein -- but it's no fun having scaly, reptilian skin. You can't cure your keratosis pilaris, although the skin condition usually disappears with time, but you can take steps to reduce the redness and roughness of your problem areas.
Talk to your dermatologist about treatments for keratosis pilaris. She'll probably prescribe a cream or ointment containing exfoliants, corticosteroids or retinoids. These medications don't usually cure keratosis pilaris, but they can soften the keratin in your skin and improve your skin's appearance. Use the medicated cream according to your dermatologist's instructions.
Take short baths and showers and use warm water instead of hot water. Yeah, long, hot showers are a great way to relax, but they'll dry out your skin, leaving you redder and rougher. Use a mild soap, not deodorant or antibacterial soaps, and pat yourself dry afterward. Don't scrub yourself dry, even if your skin itches -- you'll just irritate it more.
Rub moisturizer into your skin right after bathing, while your skin is still damp. For best results, use a moisturizer that contains urea or propylene glycol, which soften and calm rough skin.
Turn on a humidifier. Adding moisture back to the air soothes dry, irritated skin, especially in winter months.
Don't scratch! Yeah, it's tempting, but scratching will just make the itching and redness worse. Soothe itchy skin with a moisturizer (stick it in the fridge first, if you want), and put on cotton gloves if the temptation is too great.