Tuesday, 23 June 2020 09:58

Keratosis Pilaris

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Keratosis pilaris (follicular keratosis or lichen pilaris) is a frustrating, yet prevalent skin condition experienced by approximately 40 million individuals worldwide. It is caused by a build-up of the protein keratin in the skin. The build-up of keratin blocks the hair follicle, eventually producing the bump. About three million cases are reported in the United States each year. It estimated that 50% to 80% of adolescents are also affected.

We do not know what triggers this skin condition, but we do know that individuals with dry skin are more likely to develop it. The afflicted areas can be very rough, almost sandpaper-like in texture.


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The bumps typically appear on the upper arms or upper thighs, cheeks, and buttocks. It is wise to avoid picking at the bumps as the irritation can lead to hypo or hyperpigmentation in the affected area. It is not contagious, but certain individuals are more prone to it due to genetics, skin type, and other underlying factors like gluten intolerance.



Although we do not have a cure, symptoms usually subside by age 30. Keratosis pilaris is more predominant in areas or seasons of low humidity. The best course of treatment is regular exfoliation, followed by body moisturizers. If self-care treatments are ineffective, a dermatologist may prescribe creams to address the problem areas.

Is Gluten Intolerance a Culprit?


Keratosis pilaris may result from fatty acid and vitamin A deficiencies, as well as fat-malabsorption, caused by gluten damaging the gut, according to Bryan E. Dorf, DO, MBA, an internist with Westchester Health.


Were you aware that 55 different diseases are linked to gluten intolerance? Additionally, it’s estimated that 15% of Americans are gluten intolerant, which can affect almost every cell, tissue, and system in the body. The bacteria that reside in the intestines help control nutrient absorption, hormone production, metabolism, and cognitive functioning of the brain.


Gluten is a protein found in grains that makes up about 80% of the amino acids found in wheat, barley, and rye. If a client has developed keratosis pilaris, they may want to see if they experience other common symptoms, and if so, should be discussed with their physician.

Other common symptoms of diseases with connections to gluten intolerance include:

Digestive problems

Low energy levels

Autoimmune diseases



Mood Swings


Numbness in arms or legs

Reproductive problems







Joint pain and/or swelling




Prevention Tips


Consider using a humidifier daily in your home. Cleanse with warm water instead of hot. Resist scratching or rubbing the affected area. Use soaps high in oils or fats. Avoid tight-fitting clothes that can irritate the skin. Moisturize regularly with humectants and emollients then seal in the moisture with occlusives to prevent dryness.






These are hydrating ingredients that attract moisture (like magnets) to the upper layers of the skin from the dermal layers and humidity in the air. They encourage desquamation by breaking down desmosomal bonds that hold epidermal cells together. Humectants can also be synthetic or derived from nature. Emollient ingredients soften the skin by slowing the loss of water. Occlusive ingredients provide a barrier seal to prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

Examples of Humectants

Examples of Emollients

Examples of Occlusives




hyaluronic acid



aloe vera

lactic acid

triethylene glycol

tripropylene glycol



butylene glycol



zinc oxide


mineral oil



olive oil

coconut oil


cocoa butter

butyl stearate

diglycol laurate

shea butter

zinc oxide

coconut oil



mineral oil



butyl stearate

diglycol laurate



You may notice that an ingredient can fall into more than one category. This list is not intended to be all-inclusive and should be used for educational purposes only. Use moisturizing products with relieving ingredients such as urea and lactic acid.


Treatment Options


Exfoliation will break up or at the very minimum, reduce the level of keratin build-up. Options include chemical peels (alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, trichloroacetic acids) urea, retinoids, microdermabrasion, and enzymes.



Photopneumatic Therapy


Photopneumatic therapy combines intense pulsed light (IPL) with a gentle vacuum suction that removes excess cell build-up in the affected pores.


A pilot study was conducted in 2015 to see if photoneumatic therapy can reduce redness and skin texture for clients with keratosis pilaris. This study concluded that there was a 27% improvement in erythema and 56% in skin texture roughness over a one month period. There needs to be further studies to determine long-range effectiveness.


The client needs to remember that keratosis pilaris can be very stubborn. It may take several attempts using different approaches and ingredients to find what works for everyone. When the client has an effective treatment plan in place, it should be maintained. Other individuals may do nothing, and the condition dissipates on its own.



Brenda Linday 2014




Brenda Linday, L.E., L.E.I., C.A.C., Linday Aesthetic Consulting, is a licensed aesthetician, licensed aesthetic instructor, and certified aesthetic consultant with over 15 years of experience in the medical aesthetic industry. Linday serves as a consultant for medical and aesthetic companies desiring to build strong sales and education teams. She develops clinical and sales education content and trains sales and educational teams, clinicians, physicians, and distributors around the world. Linday is also a featured author in many industry publications. Her passion is sharing her wealth of knowledge with other like-minded professionals who believe that education is the key to building lasting relationships with clients, making each clinician more successful by increasing client satisfaction. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or @lindayconsult

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