Keratosis pilaris is a benign (not harmful) skin condition that looks like small bumps. This condition usually goes away on its own with age.
Keratosis pilaris or also known as chicken skin disease is not a dangerous disease. However, this condition can interfere with appearance. Therefore, patients are advised to try with a doctor.
Keratosis pilaris is typically seen in children and young adults. It affects 50–70% of teenagers and 40% of adults.
What Causes Keratosis Pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris is caused by the buildup of keratin — a hard protein that protects skin from harmful substances and infection. The keratin blocks the opening of hair follicles, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin. Keratin is a dense protein that protects the skin from harmful substances and infections.
The cause of keratosis pilaris is not fully understood, but it is thought to have a genetic association with autosomal dominant inheritance.
The following are factors that can increase the risk of developing keratosis pilaris:
- Having a family with keratosis pilaris
- Have skin conditions that tend to be dry, such as in patients with ichthyosis and atopic eczema
What are The Symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris?
The main feature of keratosis pilaris that you’ll notice is patches of tiny, rough, discolored bumps on your skin that resemble the dotted skin of a strawberry. You may notice the appearance of the bumps but don’t have any other symptoms.
Other features of keratosis pilaris are:
- Red or brown spots
- Skin feels dry and rough
- The appearance of the skin that resembles chicken skin
The spots on keratosis pilaris will usually be more obvious or multiply when the skin is dry, for example due to cold air. In some cases, pregnancy can also make keratosis pilaris multiply.
How is Keratosis Pilaris Diagnosed?
To determine the diagnosis of keratosis pilaris, the doctor will conduct a question and answer session regarding the patient’s complaints and allergies, a history of skin diseases, and whether the patient’s family also has similar symptoms.
After that, the doctor will diagnose keratosis pilaris with a simple physical examination of the skin where you have bumps. Keratosis pilaris is easy to recognize, so medical testing isn’t usually necessary. The location and characteristics of the bumps can help you identify whether you have keratosis pilaris. But if the doctor isn’t sure, they may conduct an allergy test or a biopsy.
Keratosis Pilaris Treatment
Keratosis pilaris isn’t harmful, so you usually don’t need to treat it. For some people, keratosis pilaris will go away on its own. But may be, the treatments may recomended can include:
- Self Care
Mild keratosis pilaris can be treated with self-care. Here are the ways:
- Dry skin can make keratosis pilaris worse. So, applying an over-the-counter moisturizer keeps skin hydrated, minimizing and softening the bumps.
- Using an air humidifier to control the humidity of the room, especially when the weather is dry.
- Avoid bathing for too long, because it can strip the skin’s natural oils.
- Take a bath with warm water.
- Use a loofah, washcloth or exfoliating gel or scrub and small, circular motions to gently wash the affected areas of your skin while you shower or bathe. Make sure not to scrub too hard. Scrubbing can irritate your skin and make your symptoms worse.
- Using soaps with high levels of essential oils or moisturizers.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes and clothing materials that are soft on the skin.
If you don’t start seeing improvement four to six weeks after starting a treatment plan, or if your keratosis pilaris affects your self-esteem, reach out to the doctor. Here is the explanation:
If there are signs of inflammation, the doctor will focus on treating the inflammation first. The trick is to give a corticosteroid cream to be rubbed on the skin. However, if the inflammation in the patient’s skin is severe, the doctor can give isotretinoin pills.
If there are no signs of inflammation, the doctor may prescribe the following topical (oles) medications:
- Topical Exfoliants
These cream-shaped drugs usually contain acids such as AHAs, lactic acid, salicylic acid, or urea. This cream works to moisturize dry skin and get rid of dead skin cells. However, this drug is not recommended for pediatric patients.
- Topical Retinoid
Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A that can speed up the cell turnover process and prevent clogging of hair follicles. However, this drug is not recommended for pregnant women and nursing mothers.
For maximum results, doctors can combine the use of topical medications with exfoliation therapy, which is therapy to remove dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. These actions are in the form of:
- Laser therapy
- IPL (Intense Pulse Light) therapy
- Chemical peels
How Can I Prevent Keratosis Pilaris?
There is no specific way to prevent keratosis pilaris because this condition is inherited genetically. But avoiding dry skin by maintaining a gentle skin care routine can help minimize the appearance of keratosis pilaris.