Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis Pilaris is a dermatological condition which is commonly recorded in people throughout the world. This disorder is technically referred to as Follicular Keratosis or more commonly as ‘chicken skin’. The condition is characterized with rough patches consisting of small bumps similar to acne. It is said to be an autosomal dominant medical issue. These patches often appear on face, arms, thighs as well as other parts of the body. These patches may be raise from the surface of the skin and may appear dissimilar from the skin-tone. They are usually reddish or white in appearance. These bumps generally do not cause any pain, neither do they itch. In most cases this conditions does not need any medical intervention and may ebb away over time. However, it is wise and safe to consult a doctor to address the condition appropriately.

Keratosis Pilaris occurs almost anywhere on the body where hair follicles are present but they do not appear on glabrous skin area like palms, sole, etc. These blisters when occur on the facial skin they may appear like acne causing confusion. Around 40% to 50% of adult population is affected with Keratosis Pilaris while 50% of adolescent are known to be affected with the condition. This dermatologic manifestation is found to be more common in females than in males. The condition is usually serious and may ebb away at least by the age of 30 years.

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Keratosis Pilaris causes

Studies indicate that Keratin accumulation is the main factor that causes Keratosis Pilaris. Keratin belongs to fibrous structural protein family. This is the key structural component that comprises the outer layer of human skin. It is also the chief component of nail and hair. This component also serves as protection to skin against infections and other damaging substances. Keratin buildup transforms into scaly plugs that clogs the hair follicles. In most cases there are several plugs that get developed and cause patches of blisters. The factor that causes accumulation of keratin and formation of plugs is not yet determined. Experts believe that the condition may occur due to certain genetic predisposition or either due to associated skin anomalies such as atopic dermatitis. The condition may aggravate if the skin turns dehydrated.

Types of Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis Pilaris can be segregated in different types. A condition wherein red and inflamed bumps are seen on legs, arms and head is called as Keratosis Pilaris Rubra which is one kind of Pilaris. This type of Pilaris is sometimes confused with Keratosis Pilaris Rubra Faceii wherein the patches appear on the face, particularly on the cheek. Keratosis Pilaris Alba is yet another type wherein rough and bumpy skin region is seen without irritation.

This condition generally is associated with other conditions of dry skin such as autosomal dominant ichthyosis (ichthyosis vulgaris ), atopic eczema and xerosis, etc. These conditions may also include those that occur due to allergic reactions and asthma. There is no known chronic health influences neither it has been recorded to cause fatal consequences. People often associate the condition with ‘goose bumps’ which occurs due to muscle contraction that last for significantly lesser time; the only similarity between goose-bumps and Keratosis Pilaris is that both conditions occur on skin region where hair follicles are present.

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Keratosis Pilaris Symptoms and Signs

Keratosis Pilaris can affect any individuals at any age; however, it is said to be slightly more common in children than in adult individuals. People can be affected with this condition during any part of the year but it is said to be frequently recorded in winter. There are several symptoms and signs of the condition that may be experienced by people affected with this condition; these may include:

  • Small reddish or white appearing bumps occurring on legs, arms, head, thighs, etc
  • Dry and rough region occurring at the affected area of skin which may also be itchy in some cases
  • If the patches that are seen on skin is Keratosis it may be persistent and may aggravate during winter season

In majority of cases the condition may merely cause sandpaper like skin appearance due to clusters of bumps, similar to that of goose bumps. In some cases the irregularity may aggravate and become inflamed which may also led to scarring, mostly seen on affected facial skin.


Usually Keratosis Pilaris cures on its own without need of any medical treatment. However, most of the times treatment is adopted as the disorder may turn into a cosmetic concern. Topical exfoliation agents can be helpful in order to control Keratosis Pilaris. There are topical medical solutions containing alpha-hydroxy acid, salicylic acid etc, which can relax and remove dead skin cells from the skin. One can also use topical retinoid creams which are also beneficial.  However, retinoid may cause irritation of skin in some cases. The best possible treatment adopted by people for treating Keratosis Pilaris is laser therapy.  The treatment may run for even months depending on how your body responds to the treatment. Hence, consult your doctor if you are affected with the condition to determine a suitable treatment.

Keratosis Pilaris – Pictures


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