What Is Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis Pilaris is a common skin condition made up of small bumps found on the upper arms, thighs, buttocks and sometimes on the face and mistaken for acne. It occurs when keratin forms hard plugs within hair follicles. It often appears red in color and feels very rough and doesn’t require any serious treatment. Tests aren’t needed to diagnose the condition, as your doctor can usually tell by looking at your skin.

Also known as Chicken Skin, Keratosis Pilaris affects 50% of the world’s population. People with conditions like Atopic Dermatitis are more likely to have Keratosis Pilaris as well as people with very dry skin. It is harmless and can be treated by using skin creams and moisturizing lotions. Improvements can take a long time and bumps are likely to come back.

As an adult, the condition slowly starts to fade. If the condition still irritates your skin, your doctor can prescribe a lotion that would be best for you. You should avoid picking at the bumps as it only worsens your skin and even leads to scarring. Scrubbing is also not recommended as it leads to more irritated and red skin.

Future content on this website will show you more information about Keratosis Pilaris and how you can help treat the condition.

Human skin tends to be sensitive and requires care for maintenance. Different diseases affect human skin. Keratosis Pilaris is a disease in which bumps appear on the skin which is normally white in color. But sometimes the bumps are also red in color. The bumps make the skin harder, rough and smooth. It is a harmless disease which does not cause pain or itching to the person. The bumps normally affect the arms, thighs and top of the legs. Keratosis Pilaris is also called “chicken skin.”

Keratosis Pilaris is normally a non-detrimental disease but in case of red bumps and swelling on the skin, one must consult the doctor immediately. The major victims of the disease are teens and children. However, the bumps disappear as time passes. Keratosis Pilaris is widely common in people with dry skin as dry skin has a higher tendency to get affected by the disease.

Causes of the disease:

Keratosis Pilaris is caused due to enrichment of keratin in your skin which develops a blockade of hair follicles and thus the bumps appear. Medical sciences do not know exactly the reason behind the build-up of keratin.

Ways to cure the disease:

Although it is a harmless disease which does not cause pain or itching to the patient, it is best to:

  • Avoid scratching your skin as it will make bumps look terrible and painful.
  • Make use of moisturizers which is helpful as it will help you to reduce the bumps and make your skin smother.
  • Avoid contact with hot water when in the bath or shower.
  • Make use of soap or a skin cleanser that enriches in oil.
  • Use special moisturisers, which is good especially in winter, because winter is the most difficult season for KP patients.


In the end it can be easily said that Keratosis Pilaris is not a harmful disease and it can be better if sufficient care is taken.
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What Is Actinic Keratosis?

Actinic Keratosis, also known as Solar Keratosis is a skin condition developed on sun-exposed skin. It is most common on the face, neck, forearms and hands. It appears similar to scabs which are often dry, crusty and rough.

Actinic keratoses might develop into specific types of skin cancers, which can be diagnosed with a skin biopsy, but regular Actinic Keratosis can be diagnosed by a health-care professional by simply observing your skin.

Common symptoms include:

  • Patches can burn and sting
  • 2 to 6mm in size
  • Irritation
  • Possible bleeding
  • Redness

Those with fair and light skin, green or blue eyes and blonde or red hair have a higher risk of developing Actinic Keratosis. People with specific rare skin conditions, like Xeroderma Pigmentosum are likely to have AK. Adults are more likely to have it, due to the longer periods of sun exposure. Africans are far less-likely to have actinic keratoses.

 Treatment Options

Reducing the amount of sun exposure is considered to be the best treatment for actinic keratoses. There are many other treatment options available. These are some of the most common ones.

  • Cryotherapy – Cryosurgey solution is sprayed on the lesions, freezing the cells. They become scabs and eventually peel off.
  • Chemical peels – A chemical solution is applied to the lesions, causing them to peel off over time. An example is 5-FU.
  • Excision – This will cut the lesions from the skin. This will most-likely be used if the lesion is cancerous.
  • Curettage and cautery – The lesion is scraped off and and heat is applied to the surface of the skin.
  • Light therapy – Also known as phototherapy. A chemical solution is applied to the lesion, then your skin is placed under a specific light exposure to kill the cells.

If you are afraid your AK is serious, see your doctor for inspection and possible treatment. Remember to lessen the sun exposure of your skin to prevent the AK from developing further.
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What Causes Keratosis Pilaris?

The cause of Keratosis Pilaris is not entirely understood. It is believed to occur when keratin, a human skin protein is over-produced and plugs hair follicles, causing the rough bumps to form. 50% to 80% of young people are said to have Keratosis Pilaris, and 40% of all adults have it. KP is not contagious and is more common in the winter months and less common in the summer months when the humidity is higher.

More women appear to have the condition than men, and it can become worse for them during pregnancy and after childbirth. As you age, Keratosis Pilaris usually disappears or lessens greatly. Your KP will become worse when your skin is dry, so  cleansing and exfoliating your skin is important. Food is also believed to make your condition worse, causing the bumps to grow bigger.

The appearance of KP can be different for other people. Because of this, there are different names given for the condition. The most common are:
  • Keratosis Pilaris Rubra – red patches on the face.
  • Keratosis Pilaris Alba – white or skin-coloured bumps.
  • Keratosis Pilaris Astrophicans Faciei – Another facial condition, similar to rubra.
There are many more KP-like conditions to discover. Most of them are harmless and you shouldn’t worry if you have one of these. Because KP is very common, it isn’t considered unnatural to have it, and the exact cause is nothing serious.

If you want to understand more about the causes of Keratosis Pilaris, see your healthcare professional. You will know more about the causes of your specific condition. There is so much more to know about KP and we will bring you more information in the future. We will write about the different types listed above and the specific treatment options for each of them.
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Treating Keratosis Pilaris

Right now you’re reading this post because you are interested in treating keratosis pilaris.  I have been treating keratosis pilaris for over three months now and would like to share with you my observations of which keratosis pilaris treatment methods work and which ones have not worked for me.  There are a variety of treatments for keratosis pilaris including the use of topical lotions, exfoliating scrubs, microabrasion beads, sunbathing and Seabuckthorn.  Treating keratosis pilaris can be an expensive process and can cost you hundreds of dollars in topical lotions and scrubs.  I for one have gone the thrifty route and do not like spending a lot of money in keratosis pilaris treatments.

Here are some treatment tips:

1. Exfoliate - Make sure you exfoliate every other day with an abrasive loofah or scrub.  I prefer to use the KP Heavy Duty body scrub from Derma Doctor, but you can go the cheaper route and use Cetaphil and a loofah.  The key point is to get exfoliate and get rid of the keratin build-up.  The rough, bumpy skin that is caused by Keratosis Pilaris is due to an excessive amount of keratin that clogs the hair follicle. Exfoliating helps reduce and unclog the keratin buildup in your pores.  Some people have very delicate skin that can not handle the abrasive nature of loofahs.  If so, make sure to lightly exfoliate with a less abrasive scrub or loofah, but most imporantly, you MUST exfoliate.  Without exfoliating, your skin will always stay bumpy.

2. Use a topical lotion - After exfoliating and drying off, apply a topical lotion.  For keratosis pilaris treatment, I would recommend a topical lotion thats main ingredient includes either lactic acid, retin-a or urea.  Again,  I use Derma Doctor KP Duty Repair Lotion, however it’s quite expensive (about $80 for the set).  If you want to go a cheaper route, you can use AmLactin.  AmLactin can be found in your local drug store.  I bought my bottle of AmLactin at Wal-Greens for around $11. The only problem I had with AmLactin is that it stings when you apply it to skin that has cuts or scratches (it contains lactic acid). The benefits of using AmLactin is that it made the skin on my arms MUCH smoother.  If you want to go even cheaper than AmLactin, you can use Eucerin Intensive Repair Lotion.  Eucerin also helped my skin become smooth.

Remember, to treat keratosis pilaris, you must exfoliate and then use a topical lotion that contains active ingredients (lactic acid, retin-a, urea). Keratosis Pilaris treatment is a tedious task, but you will be awarded for your diligence by having beautiful skin.  With warmer weather coming around the corner, wouldn’t it be nice to show off those keratosis pilaris free legs and arms?

Reminder, do NOT use scented soaps or lotions.  Scented soaps and lotions can aggravate your Keratosis Pilaris and cause additional KP buildup.  I also recommend cleansing with Cetaphil because the soap is hypo-allergenic and non-scented.

3. Sun-bathing - Summer is almost here and with summer comes sunshine! Sun tanning is another way to reduce the red spots caused by keratosis pilaris.  However, I do not condone or recommend sun tanning as a way to treat keratosis pilaris.  I just want to state that in my case, sun tanning has helped reduce the red spots on my skin. Actually, it’s helped a lot.  I will post pictures soon.

4. Drink lots of water - This one is a no brainer, but in order to hyrdate your skin, you must drink lots of water.  Carry a water bottle with you at all times and make sure you drink at least 8 cups of water a day.  Dry skin can increase the keratosis pilaris on your skin.

Using chemicals to treat Keratosis Pilaris can be very expensive and there is no guarantee your red, bumpy patches of skin will disappear. Treating Keratosis Pilaris naturally is the best way to help clear your skin from the condition. Both unnatural and natural methods of treating the condition don’t actually remove it, but they do reduce the bumps and help lessen the skin’s dryness. After some time, usually over the age of 30, your Keratosis Pilaris manifestations start to vanish.

Clean: Cleaning the skin is a very important step. There are many ways of doing this, but one of the most recommended ways is to use apple cider vinegar twice a day to help heal the skin. This could even be found in your home and isn’t expensive at all.

Exfoliate: Exfoliating is an important step in getting rid of those bumps, and it should be done often. Be careful not to over-exfoliate as it can harm the surface of your skin. An exfoliation scrub can be made at home which will remove the dead skin cells and clear up your skin.

Using these three methods often will heal your damaged skin and save you money from the unnatural methods of treating Keratosis Pilaris. I will provide more on how to treat this condition in future articles.
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