Keratosis Pilaris, and the boy who had chicken skin

I’d love to tell you the story of a boy who has chicken skin, and how he manages this skin condition doctors call Keratosis Pilaris.

He was born with the condition, and his mom noticed it when he was about 4 months old. The pediatrician insisted that most babies get occasional little white pimples and it would go away. But it didn’t.

The condition seemed to get worse and worse. The boy also tended to get very red and hot in the face when he went outside with other kids. His arms were very rough and pimply, and the skin almost looked as if it came from a newly plucked chicken. The mom consulted the pediatrician multiple times, with the same answer….it’ll go away on its own. But it didn’t.

One day, the mom noticed one of the pimples getting really large and almost looked like a real white head. When the boy scratched it, it popped. The mom knew this wasn’t just in her head, this was a real skin condition that needed to be treated. When she started talking to other members of her extended family, she found out that other people in her family had it too. She searched the internet and found a lone article about a girl who had this condition and always called it chicken skin. The dermatologist had diagnosed it as Keratosis Pilaris. 

By this time, the mom had changed pediatricians for other reason and asked the new pediatrician if it could be Keratosis Pilaris and the pediatrician agreed! Now she had a name for the condition, so what is it? The skin is a fabulous organ made of a whole host of things including elastin, melanin, collagen and keratin. It turns out that Keratosis Pilaris (KP for short) is the buildup of keratin that traps the hair follicle under the skin.

Keratosis Pilaris is a skin condition that has no cure, but it shouldn’t cause an issue if treated. Most of the time, the worst that can happen is that an entrapped hair follicle can become inflamed, almost like a white head. But on some occasions, the hair follicle can also become infected and require antibiotics. Most of the treatments are quite simple: exfoliation, hydrocortisone cream for the redness, and lactic acid to break down the keratin buildup.

So now that you know the boy’s story, I’ll tell you that the boy is my own son. We have tried most of the mainstream treatments and I can honestly say that chemical peel and dermabrasion (exfoliation) works best for him. We’ve tried the lactic acid and urea creams, but it’s hard to remember to put the cream on multiple times a day. It also makes him more sensitive to sunlight, so that’s not an option in the summer. Since we only have to do the exfoliation once or twice a week, we don’t have to remember to send it with him when he sleeps over someone’s house or goes to day camp.

So now you know his story and I hope this helps you in dealing with this skin condition. Lots of love, and have a spectacular day!


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