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Keratosis Pilaris Popping: What You Need to Know

Keratosis Pilaris is a widespread skin condition characterized by small, rough bumps that match your skin tone. These bumps, often subtle yet persistent, arise from keratin clogging the hair follicles, they can easily be overlooked without proper insight and may appear reddish when inflamed or blend seamlessly with your skin depending on your skin prototype.

Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about managing Keratosis Pilaris, including effective strategies to prevent these bothersome bumps from hindering your daily activities.

KP or 'Chicken skin': What is it?

Frequently regarded merely as another skin type due to its frequency, Keratosis Pilaris is actually a genetic condition associated with sensitive skin and a deficiency in vitamin A. When squeezed, these skin bumps may release a white material, resembling chicken skin, and pose primarily a cosmetic concern for those affected.

Typically appearing on the upper arms, thighs, or buttocks, KP is non-contagious and does not generally cause discomfort or itching. Although there is no cure for this benign genetic condition, various treatments can help manage symptoms and mitigate their impact. Most individuals see a natural improvement by their 30s, yet some might contend with the condition longer.

What causes Keratosis Pilaris?

The primary cause of Keratosis Pilaris is a buildup of keratin, a hard protein that shields the skin from harmful substances and infections. This excess keratin clogs the hair follicles, leading to the characteristic rough-textured bumps associated with the condition.

Additionally, KP can be exacerbated by conditions that dry out the skin. Athletes, in particular, may notice worsened symptoms due to constant exposure to various elements such as humidity from sweat, sun, cold, and other environmental factors that can aggravate this sensitive skin condition.

How is KP Diagnosed

The diagnosis of Keratosis Pilaris typically involves a visual inspection of the skin by a healthcare provider or dermatologist. The distinctive appearance of the bumps and rough patches makes it easy to identify the condition.

What is the difference between Sweat Pimples and Keratosis Pilaris?

Sweat pimples are caused by inflammation, typically when bacteria or excess oil and sweat clog the skin’s openings. In contrast, Keratosis Pilaris is caused by an accumulation of keratin that does not involve inflammation unless the bumps are disturbed.

These conditions differ significantly in their origins and how they affect the skin, which is essential for effectively targeting treatment and prevention strategies, especially for athletes and active individuals.

For further details, visit our blog post on Does Sweat Cause Acne and Sweat Pimples.

Distinguishing Regular Acne from KP

Regular acne results from several factors, including excess sebum production and bacterial overgrowth, which clog pores. While Keratosis Pilaris stems from a buildup of keratin in genetically predisposed individuals and is not related to sebum production.

Heat Rash vs Keratosis Pilaris: Key differences

Heat rash, also known as prickly heat or miliaria, develops when sweat ducts become blocked, trapping sweat beneath the skin. This typically occurs in hot and humid conditions, excessive sweating, or wearing tight clothing, leading to itchy, small, red bumps or tiny blisters in areas like the neck, underarms, and groin.

These symptoms are usually temporary and resolve once the skin cools and the sweat ducts open. Unlike Heat Rash, KP is not related to environmental factors like sweating or heat.

Differences between Ingrown hairs and KP

Ingrown hairs and Keratosis Pilaris are distinct skin conditions with different causes and characteristics. 

Ingrown hairs develop when hair grows back into the skin rather than upwards, leading to redness, inflammation, and sometimes infection. This is typically a result of shaving against the direction of hair growth, and less frequently from waxing, or any activity that blocks the hair follicle, causing the hair to curl back under the skin.

These hairs often manifest as raised, red bumps that can be painful or itchy, with the hair visibly trapped beneath the skin's surface.

Unlike ingrown hairs, KP involves the skin's protein components rather than the hair itself and is typically noted for its texture rather than irritation or pain.

Types of Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis Pilaris can manifest in various forms, each with distinct characteristics:

  • Keratosis Pilaris Rubra: Characterized by red, inflamed bumps on the skin.
  • Keratosis Pilaris Alba: Appears as rough, bumpy skin without any redness or irritation.
  • Keratosis Pilaris Rubra Faceii: Specifically affects the face, causing redness and irritation, particularly on the cheeks in children.

While these forms may vary in appearance and can occur in different areas of the body, the general approach to treatment remains consistent. However, it's important to note that treatments for children's faces should avoid strong agents like 20% urea.

Why should you avoid popping KP bumps?

It is crucial to avoid popping Keratosis Pilaris bumps, as this can lead to further irritation, inflammation, and potential scarring. Moreover, this chronic condition cannot be resolved through popping, managing it requires a comprehensive approach, including preventive measures, proper skincare, and suitable treatments to gradually improve the skin's appearance.

Using a cream for bumpy skin can help resolve the bumps without the need to pop them.

How to prevent Keratosis Pilaris

To prevent Keratosis Pilaris or minimize its severity, consider the following measures:

Moisturize and hydrate

Regularly apply a moisturizing cream specially formulated for bumpy skin. Look for products containing ingredients like urea, which softens the skin by smoothing and removing excess superficial layers, including keratin.

Gentle Cleansing

Use mild cleansers and avoid harsh soaps or skincare products that can strip the skin of its natural oils. If you are an athlete, consider using an after workout body wash designed for sensitive skin.


While traditional exfoliants may irritate, a cream containing urea acts as a natural exfoliant without aggravating sensitive skin.

Manage heat exposure

Avoid excessive heat or hot water during showers, as this can damage your skin barrier and allow irritants to penetrate. For more detailed information, be sure to visit our blog post Showering After Workout, where we discuss this topic in greater depth.

Wear appropriate clothing

Protect your skin from excessive friction by opting for loose-fitting clothes.

Dietary adjustments

Increase your intake of vegetables and fruits rich in vitamins A and E, which can help improve skin health.

Avoid damaging behaviors

Refrain from picking or scratching the affected areas to prevent worsening the condition and introducing bacteria.

Seek professional advice

Consult with a healthcare professional or dermatologist for personalized advice and treatment options.

Treating Keratosis Pilaris

 Effective treatment options for Keratosis Pilaris include:

  • Specialized creams: Avanza Skin’s a cream for bumpy skin, with shea butter and sea buckthorn oil, moisturizes, softens, and reduces bumps. It naturally exfoliates the superficial layers of the skin and removes keratin plugs.
  • Chemical peels: These treatments help by removing superficial skin layers, similar to the action of topical creams, and are another effective method, though not necessarily superior.

By consistently applying these treatments, individuals can see significant improvement, making Keratosis Pilaris treated more effectively and reducing the impact on daily life.

If a cream for bumpy skin do not alleviate your symptoms, consult with your dermatologist to explore more tailored treatment options.

For guidance on selecting the best cream for KP, please refer to our detailed blog post on How to Select the Best Cream for Keratosis Pilaris.

How long does it take to get rid of Keratosis Pilaris?

The normal skin cell cycle takes around 5–7 weeks, depending on factors like age, stress levels, and the skincare products you use daily. During this cycle, a new skin cell is formed at the deepest layer of the epidermis and gradually makes its way to the surface, where it eventually flakes off.

However, it is important to note that Keratosis Pilaris is a chronic condition, and complete eradication may not be achievable. With ongoing care and maintenance, individuals can expect a gradual improvement in the appearance and texture of their skin over time.


Keratosis Pilaris typically affects individuals in their younger years and into adulthood. While there is no cure for the condition, it often improves and may even resolve naturally as one ages.

Working closely with a dermatologist can aid in identifying the most effective treatment methods to manage symptoms and minimize their impact on the skin.

Avanza Skin offers products specifically designed for athletes to prevent and treat Keratosis Pilaris. Discover the right products for your skin and hair needs in less than a minute by taking our quiz.