What is the pathophysiology of keratosis pilaris (KP)?

Updated: Aug 12, 2019
  • Author: Ally N Alai, MD, FAAD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
  • Print
Answer

Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a genetically based disorder of hyperkeratinization of the skin. An excess formation and/or buildup of keratin is thought to cause the abrasive goose-bump texture of the skin. In these patients, the process of keratinization (the formation of epidermal skin) is faulty. One theory is that surplus skin cells build up around individual hair follicles. The individual follicular bumps are often caused by a hair that is unable to reach the surface and becomes trapped beneath the keratin debris. Often, patients develop mild erythema around the hair follicles, which is indicative of the inflammatory condition. Often, a small, coiled hair can be seen beneath the papule. Not all the bumps have associated hairs underneath. Papules are thought to arise from excessive accumulation of keratin at the follicular orifice. Certain drugs, like nilotinib, have been implicated as causes of keratosis pilaris or keratosis pilaris atrophicans. [3]  Syndromal and familial cases often have a genetic component. [4, 5, 6]


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!