A common disorder of the skin, keratosis pilaris (KP) is characterized by rough epidermal regions and patches of small acne-like bumps that typically appear on the upper arms, thighs, buttocks, and cheeks. These bumps can be white, tan, or red in color. The condition is caused by the keratinization (or cellular “hardening”) of the skin’s hair follicles.
Although its poses no serious medical threat, KP is often considered cosmetically displeasing. The disorder can affect people of all ages, but most patients find that the major symptoms of KP disappear completely by age 30.
Apart from the noticeable roughness and bumps, eruptions of KP are usually completely asymptomatic. During particularly violent outbreaks, many KP sufferers report persistent itching in the affected area. Doctors typically identify KP in patients who complain of the appearance of “gooseflesh,” “goose bumps,” or “chicken skin” on various body parts.
Because the general public is unaware of KP as a medical condition, many individuals are diagnosed with the condition when visiting dermatologists and other medical professionals for unrelated skin conditions. KP is often seen in patients with other epidermal disorders such as dry skin and eczema.