Keratosis pilaris (KP) (also follicular keratosis, lichen pilaris, or colloquially chicken skin) is a common, autosomal dominant, genetic condition of the skin's hair follicles characterized by the appearance of possibly itchy, small, gooseflesh-like bumps, with varying degrees of reddening or inflammation. It most often appears on the outer sides of the upper arms (the forearms can also be affected), thighs, face, back, and buttocks; KP can also occur on the hands, and tops of legs, sides, or any body part except glabrous (hairless) skin (like the palms or soles of feet). Often the lesions can appear on the face, which may be mistaken for acne.
There are several types of keratosis pilaris and it has been associated with pregnancy, type 1 diabetes mellitus, obesity, dry skin, allergic diseases (e.g., atopic dermatitis), and rarely cancer. Many rarer types of the disorder are part of inherited genetic syndromes.
The cause of keratosis pilaris is incompletely understood. As of 2018, keratosis pilaris is thought to be due to abnormalities in the process of depositing the protein keratin in hair follicles, abnormalities in the hair shaft, or both.
Keratosis pilaris is the most common disorder of the hair follicle in children. It is unclear how common KP is in adults with estimates ranging from 0.75% to 34% of the population.
No single approach has been found to completely cure keratosis pilaris but treatments can improve the cosmetic appearance of the condition. Treatment includes the application of topical preparations of moisturizers and medications such as lactic acid, salicylic acid, urea, or retinoids to the skin. Fractional carbon dioxide lasers and Nd:YAG laser therapies are also effective.
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