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8 Little-Known Facts About Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a common skin concern that’s often referred to as “chicken skin.” While this is common, most people with KP are unaware that not only is there a designated medical term for their condition, but also that treatments for its symptoms existHere are eight other things everyone with KP should know to keep their skin looking its best.

Keratosis Pilaris Facts and Treatment - Dermstore


1. One out of every two people on earth has keratosis pilaris.

KP is more common than you think. About 50% to 80% of children have KP, while four out of 10 adults can develop it even if they never had it as children. The good news is that in children it tends to improve with age.

2. Keratosis pilaris doesnt only appear on the upper arms and thighs.

These minute, rough bumps with their grater-like texture are most frequently scattered along the upper arms and thighs. However, the cheeks, back and buttocks can all become involved at one time or another.

3. Keratosis pilaris tends to run in families.

That’s because KP is hereditary, inherited as an autosomal dominant gene. This is similar to the brown-versus-blue eye-color phenomenon. All it takes is a single gene from either parent to find oneself with less than perfectly smooth skin.

4. Severity often varies with the seasons.

Seasonal fluctuations can be seen, with improvement more likely during the summer. Cold weather can lead to drier skin and more noticeable KP.

5. Women are slightly more likely to develop KP than men.

In addition, women may see KP flare up during pregnancy or following childbirth.

6. While it may not be pretty, it is considered medically harmless.

KP begins with a buildup of skin cells around individual hair follicles, creating a raised, rough, bumpy texture. Inflammation at the base of affected hair follicles can cause embarrassing pinpoint red or brown polka dots to form, making KP that much more noticeable. While this isn’t pretty, it is not contagious nor does it usually cause any discomfort.

7. KP is not curable, but its symptoms can be controlled.

Since keratosis pilaris is genetically predetermined, it may not be curable but should be controllable. There is no reason to passively take a “wait and see” approach. After all, there’s no guarantee that you’ll outgrow it. KP can truly affect one’s confidence, so it’s important that everyone know that there really is something they can do about it.

8. KP may return if you discontinue treatment.

Treatment is all about smoothing away the bumps and calming the inflammation. Therapy can eliminate the bumps, improve the texture, eliminate acne-causing plugs and improve the overall appearance. However, treatment for keratosis pilaris should be ongoing. Maintenance is the best way to maintain silky-smooth skin all year long.

READERS—Was this article helpful? Do you have other questions on keratosis pilaris? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below. Plus, keep scrolling to see all our top treatments for keratosis pilaris

Board-Certified Dermatologist and Founder of DERMAdoctor

Audrey Kunin, M.D.

Audrey Kunin, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist, author, clinician, educator and the founder and president of DERMAdoctor. Recognized for her medical expertise and warm, engaging manner, Dr. Kunin is considered the most quoted skin care authority in the United States and is routinely called on to share her insights by top consumer magazines, including Allure, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Health, InStyle, Shape, W, Redbook and Self. A fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, she serves as the Assistant Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.