Keratosis Pilaris (KP), or chicken skin, is a benign skin condition that is very common (as many as 40-60% of people are affected). It’s more common in children and adolescents and can worsen during puberty.
KP is a genetic condition, so, typically a family member has it, or had it when he/she was younger. As a person gets older, it will usually improve, with a lot of improvement by 30 years of age. It can sometimes resolve spontaneously.
Keratosis Pilaris is a buildup of keratin (a protein in the skin) in the hair follicles that causes white to reddish bumps on the skin — most commonly on the outer thighs, upper arms, and cheeks. It does not affect the mouth, palms, or soles. It will flare up at certain times — usually in the winter, when the air is colder and drier, and especially if the person is prone to dry skin. Some people associate the skin condition with allergies. The exact cause is unknown.
KP is not contagious, and it’s not an infection. KP doesn’t make people ill, and it’s usually not itchy or painful. Antibiotics will not improve the skin problem.
There is no cure for Keratosis Pilaris — it’s a chronic condition that can come and go. Keratosis Pilaris can make some people feel self conscious about their skin.
Two ways to help improve the appearance of KP are:
- Use a mild, non-soap cleanser (like Cetaphil or Dove) on the skin while bathing.
- Use a moisturizer every day, or twice a day. (Some people notice even more improvement if using a moisturizer that includes lactic acid, which helps break down the keratin build up. Some people have also seen improvement with a lotion containing salicylic acidor alpha hydroxy acid.)
It’s important to remember that there is most likely not a treatment that will resolve KP — but sticking with this routine can greatly improve the appearance of the skin. And, as always, if you have any questions or concerns, call us in the office anytime.
Jonette McClelland, a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner, joined Kids Plus in 2012.