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Keratosis Pilaris

Hair follicles can become ingrown, infected, inflamed, or irritated, resulting in a variety of bumps. These may include a skin condition known as keratosis pilaris (KP). These hair follicle bumps may be unnoticeable for some people, whereas others may consider them unsightly and embarrassing. Many of our patients that visit Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta experience these hair bump conditions. A board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Smith at Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta can help manage or reduce these irritations with a variety of treatment options.

WHAT IS Keratosis Pilaris (KP)

Typically, the condition consists of a scattered, patchy rash made of very small red or light colored bumps.  The buildup of keratin, the protein that protects skin, hardens and forms a plug that blocks the opening of a hair follicle, causing small raised bumps. The affected area may have as little as 10 or up to hundreds of scattered, very small slightly rough bumps, resulting in a fine, sandpaper-like texture. Sometimes, a small, coiled hair is trapped beneath the rough bump. The bumps usually appear on upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. Although it can also show up on the cheeks as pink, red, flushed, very small (pinpoint) bumps, it is less common.


source: kpessentials.com

Keratosis pilaris is benign and isn’t usually painful, though dry skin may make it itchy and uncomfortable. It also often affects people with certain skin conditions, including eczema. Many children and teens get it, and it usually disappears as they get older. A family history of keratosis pilaris is also very helpful since there is a strong genetic component to the condition.

Treatment Options

Various treatments are available to reduce the irritation and keratin bumps associated with KP. These include:

  • Keeping skin moist with moisturizing creams,
  • Regulation of environmental conditions such as using warm water and a gentle cleanser to wash, using a humidifier, and limiting time in baths or showers,
  • Prescription strength topical medicines containing active ingredients such as retinoids, salicylic acid, or alpha-hydroxy help to exfoliate the skin and assist in controlling skin cell turnover to lower the incidence of KP bumps.
  • Limited use of  products containing hydrocortisone to reduce inflammation.
  • Specially mixed compound creams with multiple different combined ingredients prescribed by Dr. Scott.


Everyone likes to wear clothes suited to the season, and although these bumps can be hidden with layers of clothes in the colder months, one shouldn’t have to cover up in the warm weather. When patients’ concerns about skin or hair bumps leads to embarrassment or concerns, it’s important to contact Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kathleen J. Smith. Patients in Decatur, North Decatur, Belvedere Park, Druid Hills, North Druid Hills, Panthersville, Gresham Park, North Atlanta, and the Atlanta Metro Area should call today at 678-904-4932.

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