Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a common, bumpy rash often located on the outer upper arms, upper thighs, and cheeks. The rash appears as small bumps that are skin colored or red. KP can be itchy for some people, but usually there are no symptoms. The skin can become irritated if it is very dry or if the bumps are picked or scratched appearing similar to eczema. KP is due to “plugging” of dead skin cells around hair follicles which often worsens in the winter when the weather is dry. Some people with KP have a lot of redness in their skin which may worsen with heat or emotion (flushing).


Keratosis Pilaris is a genetic condition often passed on from one or both parents, but can occur
spontaneously. KP often improves with age but can occur into adulthood.


There is no cure for keratosispilaris; however, it can be improved in texture and appearance with the following measures:

  • Moisturizing can help with the dry skin but will probably not clear the bumps.
  • “Smoothing” creams can be irritating and are not recommended for small children. These
    creams help open the plugged follicles. The most commonly used creams are urea preparations, lactic acid creams, glycolic creams, salicylic acid creams, and topical retinoids.
  • Mild steroid creams or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory creams. These creams primarily improve the redness, dryness and itching. They should not be used continuously.
  • Laser therapy can be considered for severe cases of KP, but it is mainly helpful in reducing the redness of the skin, not the bumpiness.

If you have any questions, please call (704)784-5901 to discuss your rash further.