Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a condition in which the hair follicles become plugged with hair and dead cells from the epidermis (outermost layer of skin). The follicles redden and become inflamed causing papules (bumps) to develop. The papules of keratosis pilaris are seen on the upper arms and thighs but also appear on the face, back, and buttocks.


Jennifer J. Janiga, MD, FAAD -- Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis Pilaris


What is Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a condition in which the hair follicles become plugged with hair and dead cells from the epidermis (outermost layer of skin). The follicles redden and become inflamed causing papules (bumps) to develop. The papules of keratosis pilaris are seen on the upper arms and thighs but may also appear on the face, back, and buttocks.

What causes Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a hereditary disorder. You can inherit it from one or both parents. Keratosis pilaris stems from over production of keratinocytes (hyperkeratosis), the cells that manufacture the protein keratin, an important skin component. Some researchers describe keratosis pilaris as just one of a whole spectrum of disorders, rather than as an independent disease. Most Dermatologists including Dr. Jennifer Janiga believe keratosis pilaris is an eczema related condition.

Keratosis pilaris is more prevalent among children and adolescents and less common in adults. It seems to improve after puberty. Individuals with dry skin and eczema (a flaking skin disorder) tend to have more severe cases. The condition usually improves during warm and humid summer months and worsens during the winter.

What are the signs and symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris?

The signs of keratosis pilaris are the papules that typically appear on the upper arms and thighs, and sometimes on the back, face, and buttocks. Papules re-form after they’ve been removed.

How is Keratosis Pilaris diagnosed?

Dr. Janiga can diagnose keratosis pilaris based on the appearance of the skin.

What is the treatment for Keratosis Pilaris?

Thus far, physicians have not developed curative treatments for keratosis pilaris. Gently rubbing off the top layer of skin with a loofah sponge flattens the papules. Fruit acid creams (e.g., glycolic acid) are sometime effective in unplugging the follicles. Certain prescription medications, such as those used for blackheads and acne, may be helpful as well.  Speak to Dr. Janiga about your specific condition and how it bothers you and she will prescribe the appropriate medication for you.

Do you see patients for Keratosis Pilaris treatment in your Reno office?

Yes. We evaluate and treat patients who are presenting with keratosis pilaris. Appointment length varies and depends on severity of condition, outward signs and other contributing factors, but are usually not more than 15 minutes in duration.

For more information, or to set up a consultation with Dr. Jennifer Janiga for your keratosis pilaris evaluation and treatment in our Reno/Tahoe dermatology office, please send us an email or call 775-398-4600.


Jennifer J. Janiga, MD, FAAD

Dr. Janiga enjoys taking care of both adults and children. Her extensive training and years of experience in medical dermatology, lasers, and cosmetic procedures allows her to treat her patients with the comprehensive attention they deserve.

Dr. Janiga listens attentively to what patients have to say, and works with them in planning the right course of action on an individual basis. Honest talk, humility and a fresh perspective paired with years of experience and education all contribute to the effectiveness of her straightforward care.