Keratosis Pilaris

The Toronto Dermatology Centre is one of the top places in Canada to manage your keratosis pilaris (KP). Our staff of outstanding dermatologists and estheticians can offer both a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis of your skin, but also discuss all the treatment options including: prescription creams, over the counter treatments (e.g. Akerat cream), and physician-grade skin products exclusive to our clinic.

Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a very common skin condition, with up to 40% of the population affected. Keratosis pilaris is an often inherited form of mild eczema, characterized by tiny bumps on the outer areas of the upper arms; less commonly, the thighs, buttocks or cheeks can be affected. Usually there is a sandpaper type of roughness to the skin, and sometimes the skin can have a red or brown discolouration to it. Keratosis pilaris is only occasionally itchy, but otherwise it is only significant cosmetically.

It is caused by a plug of dead skin cells that forms at the site of a hair follicle. Keratosis pilaris is usually worse during the winter months, and improves in the summer months. In the summer months, the increase in humidity results in the skin being less dry, and the red discolouration becomes somewhat camouflaged by the surrounding tan. It is commonly observed in children and young adults, and tends to improve as we age.

Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a benign condition and treatment is usually only necessary for cosmetic reasons. Lubricants may help with the dryness, but do not tend to clear the bumps.

While different creams may improve the appearance of keratosis pilaris, the condition remains persistent. Mild peeling agents are most effective in opening the plugged hair follicles by removing the excess skin. Each affected person may respond differently to therapies, but urea preparations, lactic acid or glycolic acid (we often recommend Reversa Skin Smoothing Body lotion) preparations, topical retinoids/Vitamin A acid, and mild topical steroids are the most commonly used therapies, often used in combination. Because this is an inherited condition, keratosis pilaris treatment should be maintained on a regular basis, and fortunately it is one of the conditions that improves with age. Remember that the goal of keratosis pilaris treatment is improvement (in redness and/or roughness) rather than cure.

Here is a selection of media articles quoting our renowned dermatologists Dr. Benjamin Barankin and Dr. Anatoli Freiman as they pertain to Keratosis Pilaris.

Sandpaper skin: The case of keratosis pilaris

Elevate Magazine – How To Treat Difficult Conditions


Toronto Dermatology Centre is located in Toronto, Ontario, and serves men and women in North York, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, York, Aurora, Thornhill, Mississauga, Etobicoke, Scarborough, Pickering, Peterborough, Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, Hamilton, Oshawa, Barrie, downtown, midtown, uptown and all of Greater Toronto (GTA).

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