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Keratosis Pilaris

One of the most common skin conditions, keratosis pilaris (KP) presents in the form of dry skin covered with rough bumps. Sometimes called as "chicken skin", KP can cause embarrassment and self-esteem issues due to its obvious appearance.

Image of a woman's hand with keratosis pilaris bumps

1. Keratosis pilaris (KP) is caused due to the blockage of hair follicles by scale

Normally, our skin has hair follicles that are not blocked. In some individuals, the hair follicles are blocked by excessive keratin proteins produced by the body. This keratin protein is commonly known as scale. While scale production occurs in everyone, at regular amounts it is naturally exfoliated by the body, aided by regular washing of the skin. However, when this scale is produced in excessive amounts, it cannot be exfoliated and blocks the follicle, filling it up.

2. Keratosis pilaris is extremely common

The origins of this condition are genetic. Up to half of the children of an affected individual may have signs of keratosis pilaris. It affects up to half of all children and up to three-quarters of children with ichthyosis vulgaris (a dry skin condition). It is also common in children with atopic dermatitis. While keratosis pilaris is most prominent during teenage years, and least common in older people, it may occur in children and adults of all ages.

3. Keratosis pilaris has a distinct appearance.

The most common affected area for keratosis pilaris is the upper arms. It may also affect the face, thighs, buttons, and the legs. Less common is the appearance on the forearms and back. The distribution is usually symmetrical. The skin appears dry and scaly to touch with spots that are red, brown, or skin-colored. The spots are not itchy or sore. Keratosis pilaris presents more distinctly during winter months when the air has relatively lower humidity.

Photo of a patient with Keratosis Pilaris
Typical Keratosis Pilaris presentation on a patient

4. Keratosis pilaris can be managed

While there is no cure for keratosis pilaris, it can be managed with a dramatic reduction in its characteristic "chicken skin" appearance.

Keratosis pilaris is not contagious and does not adversely impact an individual's quality of life, since the affected skin does not hurt or become itchy. However, the distinct appearance can diminish their confidence and self-esteem.

A trained and experienced dermatologist can diagnose your KP and help you get rid of the unwanted appearance through various treatments.

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