Keratosis: symptoms, causes, and treatment methods

Published At: 25 December 2019 , 02:25 PM

Keratosis, also known as chicken skin, is a prevalent disease that affects millions of people every year. It is caused by the accumulation of keratin in the body, which clogs the hair follicles and leads to inflammation of the skin. Although keratosis is harmless, it can affect self-esteem and make people feel insecure while hiding their legs, arms, or face. But do not get upset: today, various treatment methods are available.

What is keratosis

Keratosis is a common disease that affects more than three million people every year and is mostly found in people who have healthy and dry skin types. Keratosis is a rough spot and tiny red tubercles on the shoulders, buttocks, cheeks, hips. One of the hallmarks of “chicken skin” is that emerging cones usually do not cause itching or pain.

Reason for occurrence

Sometimes the body produces too much keratin, resulting in its accumulation. When the body has excess keratin, it clogs the pores, and this leads to the appearance of acne. Clogged hair follicles and pores also cause the presence of this disease and even ordinary ichthyosis.

Genetics can also affect the likelihood of developing a disease. The condition is classified as a genetic disease. Interestingly, keratosis is more common in adolescents or young people, with a tendency to disappear in adulthood. However, the condition may worsen during pregnancy. This is because, during puberty and pregnancy, hormonal imbalances can lead to a more rapid accumulation of keratin. People with chronically dry skin are also more prone to the appearance of pathology.

Symptoms of the disease

The following signs can determine keratosis:

Tiny, sandpaper-like bumps appeared on the skin that did not hurt or itch.

Dry patches of skin appeared on the hips, arms, buttocks, or cheeks.

Dry skin, which worsens in winter or when staying in a room with dry air for a long time.

Redness or swelling not caused by external factors.

Some people may confuse keratosis with hives caused by an allergic reaction. Although they look almost the same, colonies tend to cause itching, which requires immediate treatment. The disorder is also similar to common skin diseases such as rosacea and eczema, but it is easier to treat and is not permanent.


This problem is often closely associated with atopic dermatitis (a chronic inflammatory dermatological disease), as well as with asthma, allergies, which can co-occur.

Pilaris Rubra

The type of Rubra is another common pathology, which is accompanied by small red bulges, especially in young children from birth to 12 years. Unlike the kind of pilaris, people with the type of Rubra often experience more pronounced erythema (redness), as well as uneven terrain. No one knows precisely why keratin accumulates, but we know that it hurts cells, leading to the appearance of this benign condition.

Senile keratosis

However, there are some situations where red, scaly skin can turn into something more serious. Actinic keratosis, a condition that causes red spots, damage, and is similar to pilaris, is one example. This condition is often precancerous; therefore, if left untreated, skin cancer can be triggered. Be sure to consult a dermatologist as soon as you discover the first symptoms.

Treatment methods

To date, the most popular ways of treating chicken skin are:

Lactic acid

Many dermatologists recommend the use of lactic acid to prevent dryness, peeling of the skin. Lactic acid, one of the most popular alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) in skincare products, is a mild chemical exfoliator often used in the treatment of acne to smooth wrinkles and correct signs of aging.

In the case of keratotic inflammation, lactic acid helps to destroy keratin accumulation. In this case, the tool should be used with caution. This is because acid deprives cells of valuable protective agents, which in turn can make the skin more susceptible to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Make sure you always use good quality sunscreen if you are using lactic acid or any other AHA.

Salicylic acid

This acid is often found in cleansers and acne, because it can destroy dead cells, as well as clean clogged pores from impurities, including excess keratin. A dermatologist can recommend using a mild remedy with salicylic acid every day to moisturize, soften, cleanse the pores. This type of acid, along with lactic acid, helps exfoliate keratinized cells, and then eliminate keratin, which is stuck in the follicles.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (ADA), lesions can be treated with salicylic or lactic cleansers that contain urea. This organic compound is often added to care products so that they penetrate deeper into the dermis. Salicylic and lactic acids are the two most frequently recommended products for treating pilaris keratosis due to their ability to remove dead cells.

Moisturizing creams

One of the most critical aspects of treatment is working with dead cells that accumulate, which leads to the appearance of itching, dryness, redness, peeling. Using a high-quality moisturizer (for example, with lactic or glycolic acid) two or three times a day will help alleviate symptoms by improving the appearance of the skin. You can also help combat dryness by using a nourishing cream before bedtime.

More specialized creams are designed to treat the root cause of the disease. For example, you can use retinol, even if the skin has no signs of aging. Retinol is essentially just vitamin A. It has been proven to help cleanse pores, plus it increases collagen production. Dermatologists often recommend topical formulations, such as tretinoin, in severe forms of the disease.

Steroid treatment

If you tried all the drugs, but there is no result, the doctor may prescribe steroid treatment. Topical steroids are the right choice for those in a hurry to remove red cones before a special event because they work very quickly. Most dermatologists prescribe a seven-day course of medium-intensity steroids.

Chemical peeling

Chemical peeling works wonders. It works by removing the upper layer of the epidermis, promoting faster cell renewal, which accelerates the synthesis of collagen and elastin. Peeling can also be the right choice for people suffering from follicular keratosis, because their composition usually contains powerful alpha-hydroxy acids, like lactic acid.