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Keratosis Pilaris

by: Maria Elinor Grace Q. Sison, MD, FPDS

What is keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris or “chicken skin” is a common condition due to plugging of the follicles of our skin. It is common in children and can improve by late adolescence but is often persistent. It is strongly associated with several skin conditions such as ichthyosis vulgaris and atopic dermatitis. The cause of keratosis pilaris is not well understood.

How does keratosis pilaris present?

Keratosis pilaris presents with small bumps with varying degrees of redness. It affects lateral cheeks, extensor aspects of the upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. In children the face and arms are mainly involved while in adults the lesions are found in extensor arms and legs.

How is keratosis pilaris diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made through physical examination by the dermatologist based on the appearance of the lesions and their distribution.

What are the treatment options for keratosis pilaris?

  • Avoid drying or irritating skincare products
  • Use bland moisturizers as often as needed
  • Keratolytics such as urea, lactic acid, or salicylic acid may soften and smoothen the bumps
  • Retinoids and short courses of low potency topical steroids can be given
  • Laser procedures can be done to improve the redness or hyperpigmentation associated with keratosis pilaris
  • Treatments may minimize the symptoms but these do not eradicate keratosis pilaris

Reference:Bruckner, AL. Keratosis Pilaris and Other Follicular Keratotic Disorders. In: Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology. 9th Ed. USA: McGraw-Hill.

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