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Bumpy Skin
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This forum is for questions regarding Dermatology issues, such as: rashes, acne, birthmarks, skin infections, rosacea, and general skin care. All questions will be answered by a medical professional.

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Bumpy Skin

My girlfriend is coping with a bumpy skin condition that she thinks is incurable, permanent and increasing. She can't remember the name of it.  A doctor ran a biopsy and diagnosed it as cysts of the sweat glands, though he admits he's not certain. I have seen a similar condition on other people so I think there must be people that know more.

It's strictly a cosmetic issue, the bumps don't hurt, itch or secrete (which is why I doubt the cyst theory).  They are most prevelent under the arms and at the base of the neck.  Unfortunately, they are most noticeable under the eyes, close to the nose which is where I've seen them on other people. They are typically 1-2mm in diameter and ~ .5mm high.  There doesn't appear to be any discoloration though the underam areas seem slightly redder and the under eye area slightly yellower.  My guess is there are about 2 bumps per square cm.  The patches on her neck and underarm are about the size of a hand.  To me each bump looks like the very early beginning of a wart when you wonder if it is one or not. I don't think they are hair related.  The condition has spread very gradually over the last four years at the rate that she feels she will eventually qualify for a job at the circus as Lizard Woman.  

What is it?  Where does it come from?  What might help eliminate it or slow it's spread?  Is it contageous?  Thanks in advance.
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Although I obviously can't say for sure without seeing these bumps, I can say the following:

1.  They sound loike cysts of blocked follicles and are therefore not contagious.  In some families they are hereditary.
2.  Cysts of this sort tend to be localized.  They do not spread all over and produce a lizard-like appearance.
3.  Cosmetic treatments for these are hard and must be done with care, but the ones on the face may be treatable by electric needle or laser.  (Minor procedure, not very costly.)  They may recur, but occasional touch-ups may help.

With the assurance that she will qualify for the circus one way or another, your girlfriend may want to consult a dermatologist with a cosmetic orientation to ask about options to at least consider.

Best.

Dr. Rockoff
2 Comments
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What you describe sounds like keratosis pilaris. Go to keratosispilaris.org - they have plenty of info, images, etc.
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