Rough and bumpy skin texture is often caused by a build-up of dead skin cells that eventually clog up your pores (also known as hair follicles). In the case of keratosis pilaris, dry patches and pimple-like bumps are caused by a build-up of the skin protein known as keratin. When this happens, the opening of the hair follicle becomes blocked, and these “plugs” can lead to areas of uneven skin texture.
Photo: “Pityrosporum folliculitis” from Ran Yuping is licensed under CC Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported
Body bumps are one of the most common concerns I hear from patients. Sometimes it can be hard for people to tell if it’s acne or keratosis pilaris — but skin type and location of the bumps are two key things dermatologists look for. I created my two SLMD Skincare body regimens — Body Acne System and Body Smoothing System — to provide everyone with effective treatments.
- Rough and Bumpy Skin & Keratosis Pilaris Explained
- What Is Keratosis Pilaris?
- Ask an expert: Is it a pimple or is it keratosis pilaris
- Article Quick Links
- Expert Advice
- Contributing factors to keratosis pilaris
- Acne or Keratosis Pilaris
- What do these bumps look like?
- Acne Imposters: Folliculitis, Keratosis Pilaris, Perioral Dermatitis
- Video for “Keratosis pilaris looks like acne but not?”
- More pictures for “Keratosis pilaris looks like acne but not?”
Rough and Bumpy Skin & Keratosis Pilaris Explained
It’s not yet clear why certain people are more predisposed to this keratin build-up than others, but many dermatologists believe that these bumps may be genetic. For teenagers, it’s also possible for hormones to spark keratosis pilaris flare-ups around the time of puberty. Most cases of keratosis pilaris will clear up on their own with age.
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What Is Keratosis Pilaris?
We’ve all had body bumps — but when they keep cropping up, how do we decide how to treat them? Trying to tell the difference between common concerns like acne or keratosis pilaris (aka “strawberry” or “chicken” skin) can be confusing. Read on for tips from Sandra Lee, MD (aka Dr. Pimple Popper) on how to identify these two conditions — and the best way to deal with them.
In conclusion, not all skin conditions that look like acne are actually acne. Folliculitis, keratosis pilaris, and perioral dermatitis are three common acne imposters that can be difficult to differentiate from acne. If you’re unsure about which type you have or how to treat it, reach out to us at AOS. Whether it’s our live chat or a full Acne Coaching program, our knowledgeable team of estheticians is here to answer your questions.
Ask an expert: Is it a pimple or is it keratosis pilaris
Remember that about 90% of your skin’s outermost layer is made up of dead, flattened cells called corneocytes (aka “old” keratinocytes), bound tightly together to form a protective defense. Those cells contain a protein called keratin, which provides the structure and rigidity of the skin barrier.
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Article Quick Links
The main feature of keratosis pilaris is the bumpy “chicken skin” that appears on the upper arms, or on the thighs, cheeks, and buttocks. These bumps can be skin-colored, red, brown, or white in appearance, and can sometimes be surrounded by red, scaly skin.
If you think you may have keratosis pilaris, a qualified dermatologist can recommend the most effective treatments and skincare routine for improving your skin’s overall appearance. To help you learn more about rough and bumpy skin concerns, we’ve put together this helpful guide on rough skin patches and how to get rid of them.
You’ll notice tiny patches of rough bumps on your skin. Other common characteristics may include:
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Contributing factors to keratosis pilaris
Because whiteheads and other types of body acne are related to oil and dead cells, choosing an oil-soluble exfoliant will more effectively clean out pores. Dr. Lee favors salicylic acid for the job — find it in SLMD Skincare Salicylic Acid Body Spray.
What is the recommended treatment for KP?
Treatment of Keratosis Pilaris is not medically necessary; however, many people with this condition choose to seek treatment for cosmetic reasons. A common initial treatment of Keratosis Pilaris is intensive moisturizing. This may help with the dryness, but usually does not clear up the bumps. Treatment recommended for moderate to severe cases of KP are topical lotions or creams containing urea (Carmol 10 or 20) or lactic acid (i.e. AmLactin or Lac-Hydrin), and topical retinoids. Mild peeling agents (alpha-hydroxy acids and skin-smoothing scrubs) are the most effective in opening the clogged hair follicles by removing the excess keratin.
Acne or Keratosis Pilaris
Keratosis pilaris is usually easy to recognize based on its location on the body and the characteristics of the bumps. We’ll share the common characteristics, but before we do, we want to say the information we share here shouldn’t replace qualified care from a licensed dermatology provider or medical provider. Your healthcare provider is the one who will make the official diagnosis. If you’re experiencing bumps—be it keratosis pilaris or something else—and they become painful or don’t clear up on their own, or you have other symptoms, it’s important to see your medical provider.
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What do these bumps look like?
To combat more advanced inflammatory body acne, benzoyl peroxide (which kills acne bacteria and calms inflammation) is the ideal choice. Try SLMD Skincare BP Body Wash, which manages breakouts but is gentle enough for daily use.
Can KP be completely cured?
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Keratosis Pilaris. Although the condition may remain for years, symptoms usually lessen by age 30. Recommended treatment for KP are mainly for the temporary relief of symptoms, but may lessen the visibility and texture of the bumps. Results will vary from person to person, which simply means that what may work for one person, may not work for another.
Acne Imposters: Folliculitis, Keratosis Pilaris, Perioral Dermatitis
Sometimes referred to as “chicken skin” or “strawberry skin” for its bumpy, acne-like appearance, keratosis pilaris can affect people of all ages, genders, and races. Keep reading to learn more about rough & bumpy skin and keratosis pilaris.
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Pseudomonas folliculitis, or “hot tub” folliculitis, typically occurs after exposure to contaminated bodies of water such as swimming pools, hot tubs, water slides and sometimes even freshwater sources. The pseudomonas bacteria thrives in heated, moving water where chlorine and pH levels are imbalanced. Symptoms of this infection include itchy, red bumps that may be filled with pus and appear within hours to days after exposure.
If you struggle with the tiny red bumps associated with keratosis pilaris, you’re certainly not alone. Approximately 40% of adults and 50 to 80% of adolescents will develop this skin condition at some point throughout their lives. 1 Keratosis pilaris is categorized as areas of rough and bumpy skin that occur when a build-up of dead skin cells clogs the opening of the hair follicles. These clogged hair follicles result in a sandpaper-like texture and patches of rough, sometimes discolored skin, with groups of painless, pimple-like bumps. Keratosis pilaris bumps are considered benign and are not contagious.