Types of Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a genetic skin condition that commonly manifests itself as rough red or grey patches of skin and small bumps that usually appear on the arms and thighs or face. The condition is caused by the build-up of the protein keratin in the hair follicles, which then become irritated. Keratosis pilaris, which often appears during the teenage years, is commonly misdiagnosed as acne. A fairly common condition, keratosis pilaris does not have serious health consequences, but it can cause frustration because the condition can be difficult to treat effectively. Each of the variants of keratosis pilaris present different symptoms.

Keratosis Pilaris Rubra

Keratosis pilaris rubra is distinguished by red, inflamed bumps. It is marked by its inflammatory nature, so it commonly encompasses wider areas of skin. Keratosis pilaris rubra occurs most often during the winter months.

Keratosis Pilaris Alba

Keratosis pilaris alba is characterised by rough, grey bumps on the skin and an absence of irritation. This variation is quite common and is similar to keratosis pilaris rubra. The determination is made depending on whether the follicles are found with (rubra) or without (alba) surrounding redness and irritation.

Keratosis Pilaris Rubra Faceii

Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii results in a bright red rash on the cheeks. The skin is also rough. A flushing and blushing sensation may also be experienced by some sufferers. Keratosis pilaris rubra faceii is sometimes misdiagnosed as rosacea.

Ulerythema Ophryogenes

Ulerythema ophryogenes is a skin condition related to keratosis pilaris that is marked by scars, atrophy, and alopecia (hair loss) in the eyebrow region.

Keratosis Pilaris Atrophicans Faciei

Keratosis pilaris atrophicans faciei creates small, scarlike depressions on the face. Redness is sometimes also associated with keratosis pilaris atrophicans faciei.

Lichen Spinulosus

Lichen spinulosus, also called keratosis spinulosa, is marked by single or multiple patches of tiny follicular papules. A horny spine extends approximately 1 mm from each follicle. The condition usually has a sudden onset and spreads quickly over several days before dissipating. Like most keratosis pilaris, the condition often first presents during adolescence.

Other Variants

Atrophoderma vermiculata is distinguished by a severe, worm-eaten appearance of the cheeks. Keratosis follicularis spinulosa decalvans is a rare variant that results in bald patches on the head and eyebrows. Keratosis follicularis spinulosa decalvans causes the skin of the soles of the feet and palms of the hands, as well as that of the neck, ears, arms and legs, to thicken. It is a very rare condition that includes alopecia (hair loss) of eyebrows, eyelashes and facial hair and even baldness. Sufferers also experience thickening of the eyelids and corneal degeneration.

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About the Author

Alisa Larson is a professional freelance editor and writer with more than 10 years of experience. She has a Bachelor of Arts in religion from Simpson College and a master's degree in theological studies from Duke Divinity School, Duke University. Larson writes and edits across a broad range of topics.