What Causes Keratosis Pilaris and How to Treat It?

HK Vitals

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Keratosis pilaris is an extremely common skin condition that a lot of people have worldwide. It usually refers to small, raised bumps that appear on the skin (mostly on the arms, legs, cheeks, and/or buttocks). These bumps are simply dead skin cells that are clogging and preventing hair follicles from growing. They usually do not cause any major health issues and aren’t itchy or painful.

While keratosis pilaris disease itself isn’t contagious, it can be visually bothersome to the people who have it. There’s also no cure to fix keratosis, but there are certain things that you can do to ease up and clear out the condition quickly. Here, you’ll find more information about the disease, its causes, and keratosis pilaris symptoms that you should look out for.

Keratosis Pilaris Symptoms: How to Know If You Have KP?

While most of the time keratosis looks the same for a lot of people, with red raised bumps forming on the skin, there are other varying symptoms associated with the condition. It is also called ‘chicken skin,’ because your skin starts looking like a plucked chicken’s skin. It can happen on any body part that grows hair follicles; hence, your palms and the soles of your feet remain unaffected. Listed below are some other symptoms that can be associated with keratosis pilaris:

  • Minor discoloration around the bumps
  • Itchiness and irritable skin
  • Skin dryness
  • Sandpaper-like feeling
  • Different colored raised bumps (flesh-colored, white, red, pink, brown, or black)

Who can get Keratosis Pilaris Disease?

Keratosis can happen to anyone, but certain groups of people have a higher chance of getting this skin condition. You can likely develop KP if you have a family history of the condition. Children, toddlers, babies, and teenagers are all highly likely to develop keratosis pilaris (especially around puberty). Listed below, you’ll find some more groups of people that can develop KP:

  • Light-skinned people
  • People with eczema or ichthyosis vulgaris
  • People with asthma
  • People with hypothyroidism
  • Anyone with Cushing’s syndrome
  • Diabetics
  • Down syndrome
  • Obese people
  • Hay fever

Keratosis Pilaris: Causes and Reasons

The main cause of KP is high keratin levels in the body. It is a hair protein that, if present in your body excessively, causes these red, raised bumps. It clogs the pores of your body, which in turn blocks the path for hair follicles to grow. They get blocked due to the keratin buildup, causing these bumps on the skin.

Treating Keratosis Pilaris

While there is no cure for keratosis, and it usually clears up with age (mid-20s to 30s), there are different ways to treat the skin issue, keep it under control, or improve it. These ways are listed below for your reference:

  • Dermatologically
  • Moisturizing lotions and creams (mainly products containing urea and lactic acid)
  • Topical creams that remove dead skin cells (exfoliation)
  • Microdermabrasion, which is an intense exfoliating treatment
  • Chemical peels
  • Creams and lotions that contain retinol (these should only be applied at night)
  • Laser treatments

While all of these products can help treat and reduce keratosis pilaris, you should always get medically tested by a dermatologist first. These products may have some side effects like stinging, irritation, and dryness. Getting recommendations directly from a medical professional can help treat the condition.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle Changes

  • Warm and lukewarm baths
  • Regular exfoliation
  • Avoiding tight and fitted clothing pieces
  • Actively using humidifiers
  • Use apple cider vinegar (it has malic acid, which exfoliates your skin, though you should mix it with water before using it if you have sensitive skin)
  • Baking soda is another natural exfoliant (make and apply a paste to the affected areas, massage lightly, and wash off after 5 minutes)
  • Using coconut oil as a natural moisturizer can be a helpful treatment, as it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which also help with any discoloration and inflammation

Keratosis pilaris is an unavoidable skin condition that occurs in a lot of people. It can start as early as the age of 2 years old. These methods can curb the spread of KP and help reduce its bothersome symptoms.


Keratosis pilaris is a common and temporary skin issue that a lot of people suffer from. The red raised bumps, though, do not cause any issues; they can be unpleasant to look at. Symptoms like skin irritation, sandpaper-like skin texture, dryness, etc., are all common signs that you might have keratosis pilaris. If you see any keratosis pilaris symptoms on your body, you should consult a dermatologist and use only medically prescribed creams and lotions. Lifestyle changes such as taking lukewarm baths, continuously exfoliating your skin, and avoiding tight clothing can help avoid keratosis.

HK Vitals


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