Are you bothered by the appearance of tiny red bumps that resemble goose bumps? This skin condition, known as keratosis pilaris, though commonly called “chicken skin,” is relatively harmless, although it can occasionally cause itching and irritation. If you want to banish the bumps, which most often affect the upper arms and thighs, treatment for keratosis pilaris can help improve the skin’s texture and make the bumps less noticeable.

What is Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is caused by a buildup of keratin that clogs pores. It most commonly develops either in early childhood or during adolescence, with some toddlers developing bumps on the face.

This condition is more common among people who have a family history of keratosis pilaris, have an existing skin condition such as eczema or dryness, have asthma, allergies, or hay fever, and are overweight or obese.

Causes and Symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris

Dry skin plays a major role in the development of keratosis pilaris. In fact, many people find this condition is worse in the winter and clears up in the summer.

People who have this condition will notice dry, bumpy, rough skin. The bumps may be flesh-colored or appear red, black, white, brown, or purple.

The development of keratosis pilaris may be associated with hormone changes. It tends to resolve on its own by early adulthood, although some individuals continue to experience symptoms as they age. The condition is slightly more common among women than in men. Sometimes, its onset is associated with vemurafenib, a medication used to treat melanoma.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Keratosis pilaris is diagnosed with a simple skin examination. Most dermatologists recommend a combination of moisturizer and exfoliation to reduce the appearance of the bumps. This could include manual exfoliation with a loofah or chemical exfoliation with ingredients such as retinol, alpha hydroxy acid, or salicylic acid. If you’re experiencing redness or itching in the affected area, your doctor may prescribe a topical corticosteroid. Laser treatments can also be used to help smooth the skin’s texture and reduce the appearance of discoloration.

Make sure you keep up with the treatment for at least four to six weeks. It often takes time for results to develop, and you may need to try more than one remedy for successful treatment.


Keeping skin well-hydrated can help reduce the symptoms of keratosis pilaris. Look for a rich, creamy moisturizer with a formula that contains lactic acid or urea. For best results, apply the cream within five minutes of exiting the bath or shower. Use two to three times a day as needed.

Schedule Your Appointment

The doctors at The Dermatology Clinic can help diagnose and treat keratosis pilaris. Complete our contact form or call (225) 769-7546 to request an appointment.

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