The complete guide to keratosis pilaris: causes, treatment and more
This first fact might make you feel better: “KP, or keratosis pilaris, is one of the five most common skin diseases worldwide, affecting at least 50% of all teenagers1”, says certified dermatologist, founder of KP Away and co-founder of Skintensive Anar Mikaylov, MD, FAAD.
That number jumps to 75% if you include anyone with eczema or ichthyosis vulgaris, a genetic skin condition that causes the skin to be extremely dry.
“Keratosis pilaris is a harmless skin condition that consists of small red, brown, or pink painless bumps caused by a buildup of dead skin cells and proteins that fill the openings of hair follicles,” explains board-certified dermatologist Nava Greenfield, MD, FAAD.
This creates a coarse texture where each hair follicle is accompanied by a bump. KP is also called “chicken skin” or “strawberry legs”.
You will most often find KP on the back of the hands, thighs, buttocks, legs, and cheeks. In most cases, bumps are accompanied by redness or dryness, but this varies from person to person.
“For more than 50 years, the medical community has viewed CP as a problem of excess keratin and improper hair maturation, but new evidence shows that these are symptoms, not the root cause,” Mikaylov says.
KP actually has more to do with your sebaceous or producing glands.
“When the sebaceous glands are dysfunctional or completely absent, oils, fats and acids are naturally needed to promote healthy hair follicle growth and skin renewal. This ultimately leads to the “clogging” of the follicles, after which bumps appear, as well as redness and inflammation,” Mikaylov explains.