Skin Care: Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis Pilaris

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Keratosis Pilaris

Chicken skin bumps – such a simple yet instantly identifiable description of the skin concern keratosis pilaris (commonly dubbed “KP”). Can’t you just visualize it?

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. They’re annoying, unsightly, chronic and incredibly commonplace.

If you don’t have this condition, odds are that you know somebody who does. Whenever I talk about KP, inevitably the individual with whom I’m conversing pauses, gasps, then exclaims “I didn’t know that’s what that was! My child, husband, coworker…(fill in the blank as appropriate) has that!”

Because keratosis pilaris affects 50% of the entire world’s population, this reaction isn’t surprising. KP is somewhat more common in children and adolescents; 50 to 80% of children have KP. Adults needn’t feel neglected. KP affects 4 out of every 10 adults, too. Women are slightly more prone to developing KP. Most people with KP are unaware that not only is there a designated medical term for the condition, but that treatment exists.

Keratosis Pilaris is hereditary, inherited as an autosomal dominant gene. This is similar to the brown vs. blue eye color phenomenon. All it takes is a single gene from either parent to find oneself with less than perfectly smooth skin. But not everyone can point a finger at who’s to blame since only 30 to 50 percent of KP patients have a positive family history.

KP often accompanies atopic dermatitis and ichthyosis vulgaris so patients may also at times find themselves dealing with eczema, dry scaly skin, asthma or hayfever. In general, KP is aesthetically displeasing but medically harmless. And while it may become more exaggerated at puberty, it frequently improves with age.

What takes place to cause the abrasive texture? The process of keratinization (the formation of epidermal skin) is faulty. Surplus skin cells build up around individual hair follicles. Sometimes a hair is unable to reach the surface and becomes trapped beneath the debris. During puberty, this is an ideal set-up for triggering follicular acne.

KP creates havoc with the skin´s surface as a raised, rough, bumpy texture and uneven nutmeg-grater appearance forms. It is often quite noticeable. Inflammation within each hair follicle can cause embarrassing pinpoint red or brown polka dots to form beneath each miniature mound of keratin. Seasonal fluctuations can be seen with improvement more likely during the summer.

Controlling Your Outer Self

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. And while most with KP may not realize there really is something they can do about it, KP can really tramatize some sufferers.

Treatment is all about smoothing away the bumps. Therapy can eliminate the bumps, improve the texture, eliminate acne-causing plugs and improve the overall appearance. Chemical exfoliation needn’t be fraught with irritation, redness or discomfort.

Keratosis Pilaris 2 (continued)


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