Keratosis Pilaris, the red or skin toned raised bumps that appear on the back of a person’s arms, and/or thighs, buttocks and sometimes back are one of the most prolific, stubborn, and upsetting skin conditions, especially for teens and women.

Women are more likely to have the condition, but it is estimated that as much as 50% of the adult population world-wide, and up to 80% of teens suffer with these hard, reddened, and unsightly bumps. We understand the mechanism of KP, but not yet its full cause. It is a hereditary condition, a (mal) function of an autosomal dominant gene. That much we know.

Often appearing in otherwise healthy people, the dermis begins over-producing keratin, which blocks hair follicles, creating the bumps, which usually contain ingrown hairs. Keratin is the material that “holds” hairs in place in follicles, and it seems that the body is trying to stop hair growth by plugging the follicles. Or, possibly the hair growth that would otherwise naturally occur is inhibited by the keratin production. It is usually found in combination with dry skin (and much worse in the winter, cold weather months), and there are some cursory links to asthma and allergies.

KP is rarely painful, but it is very embarrassing, particularly to the young women who are the primary victims. While there is as yet no cure for KP, there are treatments. Heavy-duty chemical treatments like applying urea, and glycolic acid can be done, as can microdermabrasion, but unless you’re one of the handful of people for which KP is painful, deep exfoliation is usually the best treatment.

Some experts recommend soaking in a hot tub or bath first, but most are in agreement that regular use of salt or sugar scrubs, with a loofah, and followed with a rich hydrating moisturizer, can greatly reduce or eliminate the unsightly specter of KP.