How to treat Keratosis Pilaris | elle derm

What is Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis Pilaris is a skin condition that presents as tiny red or white bumps.

They are usually painless and do not cause any symptoms but can cause itching in some people.

Keratosis pilaris is caused by the buildup of keratin; a hard protein found in skin, hair and nail. The keratin blocks the opening of hair follicles, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin.

It affects nearly 50-80% of all adolescents and approximately 40% of adults.  It affects commonly the upper arms (92%), thighs (59%) and buttocks (30%), but can also occur on other areas.


What causes Keratosis Pilaris

It's not clear  what causes Keratosis Pilaris and why keratin builds up in some individuals. Studies suggest there is a genetic link involved. Dry skin tends to make Keratosis Pilaris worse and therefore people who suffer from Keratosis Pilaris may find their condition worsen during the winter months.



Treatment for Keratosis Pilaris 

There is no cure for Keratosis Pilaris and it can disappear altogether with time. Several treatment options are available and when used frequently, can reduce the recurrence and severity of Keratosis Pilaris. 

To diminish the bumps and improve your skin’s texture, it is best to incorporate ingredients that increase skin cell turnover with gentle exfoliation into your daily routine. Exfoliation on its own can help reduce the appearance of bumpy skin but it is not effective on its own.

Ingredients which can speed up skin cell turnover include:

  • Alpha hydroxyl acid

  • Glycolic acid

  • Lactic acid

  • A retinoid (adapalene, retinol, tazarotene, tretinoin)

  • Salicylic acid

  • Urea


Occlusive mosturisers are also recommended as dry skin can often worsen Keratosis Pilaris. 


Author: Helen Lam B.Pharm MPS






  1. International Journal of Trichology (2012)
  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Keratosis Pilaris: Diagnosis and Treatment.

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