Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis Pilaris

  • Best Results2-4 months
  • Treatment RecoveryNA
  • Procedure Time1 min daily
  • Skin SpecialistYou with help from me
  • Duration of ResultsVariable
  • AnaestheticNA
  • Back to WorkNA
  • Cost$

Keratosis Pilaris

KP or keratosis pilaris is a bumpy red rash that is due to a build-up of dead skin cells & keratin around the hair follicle. Commonly affected areas include the back of the arms, thighs, cheeks, & buttocks. This rash can be treated effectively with chemical & physical exfoliants. Topical retinoids can be useful in some cases.

FactsFacts On Keratosis Pilaris

  • KP has over 6 different variants
  • The most common variant affects the back of the arms, front legs & buttocks
  • The best way to treat this skin condition is to exfoliate
  • Thank me later
  • The natural history of KP is to persist for a few decades before improving
  • Read more about how to treat KP, without going to see a dermatologist
  • You can use a physical or chemical exfoliator, or preferably both

What does Keratosis Pilaris look like?

The garden variety KP looks like persistent red goosebumps on the back of arms, the front of legs & occasionally on the buttocks. The roughness is due to the build-up of keratin.

The second most common KP subtype involves the face. This is known as KP rubra pilaris, meaning red & bumpy.

Most cases of KP do not cause any symptoms, some cases can flare up in summer & get infected, this is known as KP pustulosa. 

Who gets keratosis pilaris?

KP is very common. It affects 1 in 3 adults. It is more common in patients with atopy, allergies & dry skin. KP starts around the teenage years & improves in the 30s. My brother has it. He is almost 50, & his KP is starting to improve.


Blocked hair follicles are the primary cause of KP- hence why exfoliation treatments work best.

What home DIY treatments can you try?

Simple solutions include a loofah & exfoliating acid/s. A basic treatment goes something like this; salicylic acid 2% wash (La Roche Posay Effaclar Micropeel) with loofah exfoliation in the shower Monday to Friday. Lactic acid 20% weekends only. Modify according to side effects & results.

Other skincare acids include AHAs such as glycolic or lactic acid washes, with or without salicylic acid. The Ordinary makes cheap & nasty acids, ideal for the treatment of keratosis pilaris.

When should you see a dermatologist?

Consider seeing a medical dermatologist if a diagnosis is in doubt, lichen spinulosus, follicular lupus, follicular LP, psoriasis & DOKs (disorders of keratinization) are all possible, but rare diagnoses.

A dermatologist can also fine tune your topicals, for example increase the concentration of active ingredients such as acids, the strength of retinoids or add antibacterial agents such as chlorhexidine or thymol.

Disclaimer: I am a procedural dermatologist. I do not prescribe; I do not treat KP. Please see my colleagues @cliniccutis

Davin’s Viewpoint on Keratosis Pilaris

In a phrase, Prince William & Harry have this condition, if they cannot cure KP, your dermatologist won’t have a chance. KP is common, most cases do not cause problems, with the exception of severe keratosis pilaris rubra faceii & scarring loss of eyebrows due to KP or ulerythema ophryogenes.

If your skin type allows, sensible tanning can reduce the look of KP, especially if there is any redness. The use of simple keratolytics can help. Bang for bucks, 20% lactic acid lotion or super cheap & nasty skincare acids from The Ordinary can help.

Lasers can be helpful in some cases, especially facial KP. We employ pulse dye 595, 755 alex & LP Nd Yag 1064 in addition to IPL. Settings are high, about 50% respond after 3-4 sessions. Laser is not a cure for KP, there is no cure for KP. It just corrects itself when it is time.

Disclaimer: I do not treat KP, as this is medical. My nurses have my KP laser protocols. Please book an appointment with them.

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