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Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris (follicular keratosis or lichen pilaris) is a frustrating, yet prevalent skin condition experienced by approximately 40 million individuals worldwide. It is caused by a build-up of the protein keratin in the skin. The build-up of keratin blocks the hair follicle, eventually producing the bump. About three million cases are reported in the United States each year. It estimated that 50% to 80% of adolescents are also affected.

We do not know what triggers this skin condition, but we do know that individuals with dry skin are more likely to develop it. The afflicted areas can be very rough, almost sandpaper-like in texture.

The bumps typically appear on the upper arms or upper thighs, cheeks, and buttocks. It is wise to avoid picking at the bumps as the irritation can lead to hypo or hyperpigmentation in the affected area. It is not contagious, but certain individuals are more prone to it due to genetics, skin type, and other underlying factors.


Although we do not have a cure, symptoms usually subside by age 30. Keratosis pilaris is more predominant in areas or seasons of low humidity. The best course of treatment is regular exfoliation, followed by body moisturizers. If self-care treatments are ineffective, a dermatologist may prescribe creams to address the problem areas.

Prevention Tips

Consider using a humidifier daily in your home. Cleanse with warm water instead of hot. Resist scratching or rubbing the affected area. Use soaps high in oils or fats. Avoid tight-fitting clothes that can irritate the skin. Moisturize regularly with humectants and emollients then seal in the moisture with occlusives to prevent dryness.



These are hydrating ingredients that attract moisture (like magnets) to the upper layers of the skin from the dermal layers and humidity in the air. They encourage desquamation by breaking down desmosomal bonds that hold epidermal cells together. Humectants can also be synthetic or derived from nature. Emollient ingredients soften the skin by slowing the loss of water. Occlusive ingredients provide a barrier seal to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

You may notice that an ingredient can fall into more than one category. This list is not intended to be all-inclusive and should be used for educational purposes only. Use moisturizing products with relieving ingredients such as urea and lactic acid.

Treatment Options

Exfoliation will break up or at the very minimum, reduce the level of keratin build-up. Options include chemical peels (alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, trichloroacetic acids) urea, retinoids, microdermabrasion, and enzymes. our Jan Marini Bioglycolic Resurfacing Body Scrub combines highly concentrated glycolic acid with exfoliating particles and key botanical extracts for noticeably smoother glowing skin that is silky smooth to the touch. Immediately reduce rough calloused skin or concentrate on trouble areas, such as backs of arms and legs. Immediate benefits with progressive improvement over time. This glycolic acid body scrub is available in an 8 oz. bottle.



Photopneumatic Therapy

Photopneumatic therapy combines intense pulsed light (IPL) with a gentle vacuum suction that removes excess cell build-up in the affected pores.

A pilot study was conducted in 2015 to see if photoneumatic therapy can reduce redness and skin texture for clients with keratosis pilaris. This study concluded that there was a 27% improvement in erythema and 56% in skin texture roughness over a one month period. There needs to be further studies to determine long-range effectiveness.

The client needs to remember that keratosis pilaris can be very stubborn. It may take several attempts using different approaches and ingredients to find what works for everyone. When the client has an effective treatment plan in place, it should be maintained. Other individuals may do nothing, and the condition dissipates on its own.

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