ABC Medical Center > Keratosis pilaris

What is Keratosis pilaris?

21:55 - 4 May , 2021


It refers to a frequent and innocuous dermatological condition that produces dry and rough spots on the skin due to the accumulation of keratin, obstructing the hair follicles.

Keratin is a protein with a certain degree of hardness that forms a barrier on the skin to prevent damage from infections.

These lesions, according to age, are accompanied by painless eruptions on the arms, legs, face, or buttocks. Keratosis pilaris can occur at any age, although it is more common in children and adolescents. So far the exact causes are unknown, but some scientists associate it with genetic disorders or skin pathologies such as atopic dermatitis.

It usually occurs in isolation, but apparently, there are some conditions and factors that contribute to its appearance, such as:

  • Hormonal imbalance during puberty or pregnancy.
  • Diabetes.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Obesity.
  • White skin.
  • Down syndrome.
  • Use of drugs, such as systemic corticosteroids, and lithium.

Keratosis pilaris can be aggravated when your skin is dry and there is little humidity in the environment, especially during the winter.

Signs and symptoms Keratosis pilaris

It is characterized by: 

  • Painless skin eruptions on the limbs, buttocks, and face.
  • Dry and rough spots.
  • Intense dryness in the injured areas.
  • Itch.

Diagnosis and treatment Keratosis pilaris

Through a skin check, analysis of your medical history, and your symptoms, your doctor can diagnose keratosis pilaris without the need for complementary tests but may require patch tests to identify allergens or some additional test to make sure that there are no other skin conditions that can affect the diagnosis.

Treatment usually consists of a combination of various therapies to soften hard keratin deposits, including:

  • Topical corticosteroids.
  • Exfoliants.
  • Emollient lotions.
  • Microdermabrasion.
  • Topical retinoids.

Treatment can take months or years and requires continuous medical supervision to prevent recurrences, which are quite frequent.

It is important to mention that keratosis pilaris has no cure and cannot be prevented, but a proper diet, as well as permanent skin care and cleaning can help improve symptoms and appearance, especially on the face. Therefore, it is recommended to use:

  • Creams to loosen dead cells and prevent follicular obstruction.
  • Dry your skin gently, without rubbing.
  • Do not stay too long in the bath.
  • Bathe with warm water and moisturize the skin with lotion at the end.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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  • mayoclinic.org
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  • msdmanuals.com
  • medigraphic.com
  • Mancilla-Gudiel PM, Arenas R. Pityriasis rubra pilaris: a review. Dermatología Cosmética, Médica y Quirúrgica. 2020;18(1):53-61.
  • García-Briz MI, García-Ruiz R, Zayas-Gávila AI, et al. Pitiriasis rubra pilaris. ¿Algo más que un trastorno de la queratinización?. Med Cutan Iber Lat Am. 2018;46(1):7-12.
  • Cabrera HN, Griffa EM, Hermida MD, et al. Queratosis liquenoide crónica (poroqueratosis liquenoide estriada): una entidad puente. Med Cutan Iber Lat Am. 2015;43(Suppl: 1):59-64.
  • Bolaños AMA, Carbajosa MMJ, Violante J, et al. Queratosis seborreica y siringomas periobitarios: un raro tumor de colisión. Reporte de dos casos. Dermatología Cosmética, Médica y Quirúrgica. 2017;15(4):240-242.

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