Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is the medical term for small, goosebump-like bumps appearing on the surface of the skin. Sometimes known as “chicken skin,” this skin condition affects approximately 50-70% of young children and 40% of adults, and has a tendency to appear on the backs of arms. While harmless, it can occasionally be itchy, irritating, and be a point of self-consciousness for those suffering with it. Why do some people have it while others don’t and how can it be treated? Dr. Vélez has the answers!

Likely Causes of Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis Pilaris can result for a number of reasons. For many, it may run in the family. It’s classified as “autosomal dominant,” meaning that even if just one parent is affected by the condition, there is a 50% chance that children will also have it.

But why does it form? It’s actually caused by the buildup of keratin, a normal occurring protein, under the skin. Once a follicle is clogged with keratin, a small bump appears on the skin. This bump can be dry, scaly and prone to irritation.

Keratosis Pilaris is often seen on those with lighter, more fair skin and on those already suffering from some skin conditions like eczema. Additionally, those with asthma or a higher body weight may also be more prone to this skin condition.

Reducing Appearances

In most people, Keratosis Pilaris improves with time but may take until a patient is in their 30’s or 40’s to resolve. While there is no cure for the condition, exfoliant moisturizers are what we recommend as first line treatment. Amlactin, an over-the-counter cream, is made of ammonium lactate and is an exfoliant that helps breakdown the excess keratin that is blocking the hair follicles. If the areas of KP are itchy, you may want to see a dermatologist for a prescription topical steroid cream to help. In some cases, we may even use retinoid creams or chemical peels. The important thing to remember is that this is a very common condition and one that we can definitely improve.