Keratosis Pilaris (cont.)
Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD
Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.
Nili N. Alai, MD, FAAD
Dr. Alai is an actively practicing medical and surgical dermatologist in south Orange County, California. She has been a professor of dermatology and family medicine at the University of California, Irvine since 2000. She is U.S. board-certified in dermatology, a 10-year-certified fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and Fellow of the American Society of Mohs Surgery.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Keratosis pilaris facts
- What is keratosis pilaris (KP)?
- Who gets keratosis pilaris?
- What is the prognosis of patients with keratosis pilaris?
- Does keratosis pilaris affect the entire body?
- What does keratosis pilaris look like?
- What causes keratosis pilaris?
- How is keratosis pilaris diagnosed?
- Is keratosis pilaris curable?
- Is keratosis pilaris contagious?
- What are possible complications of keratosis pilaris?
- Does diet have anything to do with keratosis pilaris?
- Keratosis pilaris "do's"
- Keratosis pilaris "don'ts"
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
What does keratosis pilaris look like?
Typically, KP patients present with a scattered, patchy rash made of very small red or tan bumps. Often, 10-100 very small slightly rough bumps are scattered in an area. The affected area may have a fine, sandpaper-like texture. Some of the bumps may be slightly red or have an accompanying light-red halo indicating inflammation.
Sometimes, a small, coiled hair is trapped beneath the rough bump. Patients may complain of a rough texture and an irregular cosmetic appearance of the skin. The cheeks may appear pink, red, flushed, and be studded with very small (pinpoint) bumps.
What causes keratosis pilaris?
The exact cause of KP is unknown. There seems to be a problem with overproduction of the keratin part of the skin called hyperkeratinization. KP is thought to be partly inherited (genetic) in origin. About 50%-70% of patients with KP have a known genetic predisposition and a high rate of affected family members. Many individuals have a strong family history of KP or "chicken skin." The underlying cause may partly be related to hypersensitivity reactions and overall dryness of the skin. KP is also closely related to ichthyosis vulgaris, dry skin, allergies, seasonal allergies, rhinitis, asthma, eczema, and atopic dermatitis.
The bumps in KP seem to arise from the excessive accumulation of keratin (very small, dry skin particles) at the opening of individual hair follicles. The skin as examined under the microscope demonstrates mild thickening, hyperkeratosis, and plugging of the hair follicle. The upper skin layers may have some dilation of the small superficial blood vessels, thereby giving the skin a red or flushed appearance.
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