Keratosis Pilaris – What Can You Do To Treat It?

Keratosis pilaris may be a harmless skin problem but it affects an estimated 40% or more of the adult population. Keratosis pilaris is a genetic follicular disorder characterized by small rough bumps on the skin. It usually occurs on the back and outer sides of the upper arms; although, Keratosis pilaris can also appear on the thighs, buttocks or flanks.

Also called “chicken skin”, Keratosis pilaris occurs when a hair follicle becomes plugged with excess keratin, which is a natural protein in the skin. These plugged follicles result in small red bumps and/or rough patches sometimes becoming inflamed and irritated in the more severe cases. KP is not acne even though it looks very similar. Acne is a result of sebum (oil) blocking the pores not keratin. Keratosis pilaris is also different from acne in that is can be worse in people with drier skin or in a colder, drier environment. Kp bumps can prevent the hair from growing out of the affected follicle resulting in an ingrown hair.

Usually more common in woman than men, keratosis pilaris comes in three different varieties:

1) Keratosis pilaris rubra – a more red and inflamed type

2) Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii – a reddish rash on the cheeks

3) Keratosis pilaris alba – bumps without the inflammation or irritation (most common)

The bad news is that keratosis pilaris is not curable – only treatable. Being a hereditary disorder, the best a sufferer can hope for is to alleviate the symptoms. The good news is that this is very possible.

The key to treating keratosis pilaris is to soften the keratin deposits in the skin. Keeping the keratin soft and exfoliating the affected areas will help keep hair follicles from becoming plugged with keratin. Self care measures will work for most people in at least improving skin’s appearance and the amount of bumps seen.

Self care measures that are helpful are:

Don’t over scrub the problem areas. This can aggravate the condition and make the bumps worse.

Don’t over dry your skin after bathing. Pat dry and allow moisture to remain.

Apply an over-the-counter lotion with lactic acid (AmLactin 12%). For areas other than the face, at least a 12% concentration is recommended. A lactic acid lotion will soften keratin, exfoliate dead skin cells and provide moisturization. Lactic acid is a naturally occurring humectant for the skin.

Use a humidifier if the air inside your home is dry.

Apply lotions to your skin while the skin is still moist from bathing.

Try not to scratch or pick at the bumps.

If your keratosis pilaris is more severe, there are prescription medications that can help.

The prescription medications used to soften keratin include:

Lac-Hydrin (ammonium lactate) – a 12% lactic acid lotion to soften keratin and promote cell turnover

Topical retinoids – (Tretinoin, Avita, Tazorac) – promotes cell turnover preventing the follicle from becoming plugged – retinoids may cause skin irritation

Carmol or Keralac ( urea moisturizers) – loosens dead skin cells and softens dry skin
Topical corticosteroids – usually prescribed as a short term treatment because of the potential side effects, corticosteroid ointments are anti-inflammatory

See your doctor for further information on prescription medications.

Even though this skin condition does not have any long term health repercussions, it can be a real bother to the people who have it. The real key to dealing with keratosis pilaris is consistency. You must constantly treat the affected area to keep the bumps away. If you stop treating – the bumps will return. It is as simple as that.

Julie Roberts is the publisher of

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Author: Uzumaki Naruto

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