What is Keratosis Pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris (sometimes referred to simply as KP) is a very common skin disorder that affects approximately 40% of the population. KP affects an even great percentage of children, as many people grow out of the condition as they age. Keratosis pilaris has a genetic link, meaning that it can run in families. It appears as tiny red dots and bumps on the skin, most commonly seen on the arms, thighs, buttocks, and face.
What causes Keratosis Pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris has a genetic link, meaning that it is a condition inherited from older generations of the family. The tiny red dots and bumps of keratosis pilaris are causes by excess keratin buildup around the hair follicle. As a result of abnormal keratinization (abnormal formation of the superficial skin cells), keratin builds up on the skin. This process results in the appearance of “chicken skin” or “goose bumps” on the skin. This abnormal appearance of the skin is not dangerous, though it is considered cosmetically undesirable by some people.
How is Keratosis Pilaris treated?
There is no cure for keratosis pilaris, but there are many treatment options that improve its appearance. Regular use of moisturizing creams can help mild cases, though more moderate cases require a medicated cream that breaks down the excess keratin on the skin. These medicated creams include AmLactin (and other creams containing lactic acid), glycolic acid formulations, urea creams, salicylic acid creams, and retinoids (such as Retin-A or Tazorac.) In addition to topical creams, chemical peels are an effective way to deliver these medications to the skin. Chemical peels containing lactic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid can often yield dramatic improvement in the appearance of keratosis pilaris.
Can lasers be used to treat Keratosis Pilaris?
Vascular lasers, such as the KTP laser and the VBeam laser, can be used to reduce the reddish appearance of keratosis pilaris. A series of treatments can greatly reduce the red appearance of the condition, making the keratosis pilaris much less noticeable. Some patients have seen improvement with laser hair removal, as theoretically, some of the bumps of keratosis pilaris may stem from tiny ingrown hairs in the area. The potential effectiveness of other types of laser treatment for keratosis pilaris is currently being explored.
Where is Keratosis Pilaris treated?
Schweiger Dermatology, in midtown Manhattan and downtown Manhattan near Union Square, treats keratosis pilaris with topical prescription-strength medication and chemical peels. For patients with very red keratosis pilaris, the dermatologists at Schweiger Dermatology often utilize the KTP laser for KP treatment.