What is Keratosis Pilaris?

Those white itchy dry patches of bumps on your skin can be treated.  This article explains how to treat Keratosis Pilaris.

What is Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis Pilaris is small, dry white bumps that occur in patches. You may know them as “chicken skin” or “chicken bumps” or “KP”. The official name is follicular keratosis. And it is very common as it affects nearly 3 million people, mostly under the age of 30.

Understanding Keratosis Pilaris

 Keratosis Pilaris bumps are an excess build-up of keratin in many adjacent hair follicles within an area. They are most common on the back of the upper arms, the back and can appear even on buttocks.

KP leaves skin looking dull and rough. Dry skin does not directly cause it but does make KP look much worse. Many people only get KP during the winter when skin is drier due to forced indoor heat and friction from heavier clothing.

  • Chlorine from swimming pools also may cause a KP flareup for some people.
  • Shaving or waxing Keratosis Pilaris-affected skin can cause a flare-up.

What causes Keratosis Pilaris breakouts?

Keratosis Pilaris bumps don’t exfoliate away, they don’t respond to acne medicine or creams, they won’t go away permanently, and they can get itchy. Oh, and they get angry looking in the heat, in the cold, from creams, sprays, clothing, and sometimes for no known reason at all. KP looks like acne or a rash.

Keratosis Pilaris can’t hurt you unless you get an infection from scratching it. The KP beast can be temporarily tamed with a gentle exfoliation with mild soap and sonic brush. Over scrubbing or strong products can also make a mess of your skin. And it is easy to mistake KP for acne or poison ivy if you don’t know better, starting a vicious cycle of KP inflammation and redness. 

KP is a concern in warmer months when most of us show more upper-arm skin. Brides-to-be are often concerned about potential wedding day Keratosis Pilaris breakouts, especially on the upper arms and chest.

How to treat Keratosis Pilaris?

KP can be treated.
It is important not to scratch – it will make it worse and introduce bacteria and potential scarring. But you can treat Keratosis Pilaris now for clear skin by summer!

  • Keep skin moisturized
  • Use cool not hot water in the shower. If you prefer hot showers, limit them to less than 20 minutes
  • Use mild cleansers

Want to know more about how to get rid of chicken bump skin? Read our next article, How To Treat Keratosis Pilaris?



Schmitt JV, Lima BZ. “Keratosis pilaris and prevalence of acne vulgaris: a cross-sectional study.” An Bras Dermatol. 2014 Jan-Feb; 89(1):91–5.

27 Comments Add yours

  1. Naomi says:

    Great job!

  2. David Clifton says:

    i didnt know what those red bumps were – sure enough they are Kp! thx for the good tips

  3. Darla Udon says:

    I am willing to try anything to get rid of my Keratosis Pilaris!!!!!!!

  4. Randall says:

    Great article on Chicken Bumps!

  5. David Usase says:

    At least I can cover up my Chicken Bumps in winter.

  6. Josephine Ephelia says:

    My Keratosis Pilaris has been really bad this year. It’s really cold in New England.

  7. Frieda Dayne says:

    I thought I had poison ivy for the longest time. It was Keratosis Pilaris.

  8. Jeremy Stete says:

    I didn’t know the name of it.

  9. Linda Attabb says:

    I have KP – I hate how rough my skin is!

  10. Jen Gapper says:

    I have tried sooooooooo many products for this!

  11. Bray Kipse says:

    Interesting information on this.

  12. Sandra Raffy says:

    I’ve had this since I was a kid.

  13. Sara Aggy says:

    Mine gets bad during the winter

  14. Jeffrey Naane says:

    Had that as a kid. Embarrassing!

  15. Aubrey Woots says:

    Wish mine wasn’t so red!

  16. Allen Vok says:

    I’m not a vain guy but KP drives me crazy!

  17. Roberta Jetty says:

    Mine gets a lot worse during allergy season

  18. Suzanne says:

    Still waiting for mine to calm down. 🙁

  19. Rob Bruce says:

    oatmeal works

  20. Stacie says:

    the ordinary makes a good lactic acid i like for KP. it doesn’t irritate my skin

  21. Lizzie Puttie says:

    Hate those little bumps!

  22. Brandy says:

    Nice article – and I’ve read a lot on the subject!

  23. Frankie Penders says:

    I always wondered what KP was.

  24. Francine H. says:

    I just got diagnosed with this thanks for the info.

  25. Florence Granite says:

    I was wondering what those bumps were.

  26. Melissa Dalittle says:

    🙂 I was looking for this

  27. Hannah says:

    I hate my chicken bumps!!

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