Laser Hair Removal for Keratosis Pilaris, Q&A with an Expert

Red bumps on legs caused by Keratosis pilaris. Ideal Image can still perform Laser Hair Removal treatment for people with KP.

Did you know one in three individuals suffer from skin diseases at some point in their life? Keratosis pilaris is one of the most common skin issues we see in medical clinics across the country. Although the condition is not curable at this time, this article will discuss the details of Keratosis pilaris and how the use of Laser Hair Removal is proving to be an exciting new treatment option.

We sat down with Andrea Uzuegbunem, PA-C, MHA, one of the Ideal Image Medical Professionals in our Oklahoma City clinic, who has experience treating clients with Keratosis pilaris. Here’s what she had to say.

Q: What Causes Keratosis Pilaris?

A: Keratosis pilaris is a skin condition commonly found on arms and legs. It can affect anyone, any age, but it most commonly affects children and adolescents. It is not a dangerous condition but can cause distress due to the appearance and texture of the affected skin.

Keratosis pilaris is caused by a keratin protein build-up in the hair follicle that leads to red, bumpy skin. Keratin is a common protein found throughout the body, including hair and nails, and is not usually found in large amounts within the hair follicle itself. When the hair follicle develops a “keratin plug,” the surrounding skin can become irritated, scaly and red. We are left with multiple painless small red bumps. Sometimes small, coiled hair shafts are found in the bumps themselves.

The bumpy red skin does not usually itch or cause pain. While it usually appears on the arms and legs, sometimes the skin of the face and buttocks can also be affected. The affected skin is not compromised or at risk for infections unless the person starts scratching their skin vigorously.

Q: Who Gets Keratosis Pilaris? Is Keratosis Pilaris Contagious Or Genetic?

A: While Keratosis pilaris is not contagious, it does have a genetic component to it. Do your parents have Keratosis pilaris? This makes you more likely to suffer from it too. Folks who have Keratosis pilaris are also more likely to have a diagnosis of atopic dermatitis (eczema) as well. Kids and teenagers are more likely to have Keratosis pilaris than adults. Race and sex do not seem to play into the equation.

Q: How Is Keratosis Pilaris Diagnosed?

A: Keratosis pilaris is usually diagnosed at your medical provider’s office. They’ll talk about your medical history and perform a physical exam before making a Keratosis pilaris diagnosis. Biopsies of the affected skin are not needed unless the medical provider is unsure of the diagnosis.

Keratosis pilaris can sometimes be mistaken for other skin disorders and it is important to differentiate it from something else that may need to be more seriously addressed. This includes folliculitis (infection of the hair follicle), eczema, acne, milia and even rashes associated with scurvy.

Q: Is Keratosis Pilaris Curable?

A: Unfortunately, Keratosis pilaris has no known cure currently. But it doesn’t have to be a lifelong condition. There are treatments, like Laser Hair Removal, that are proving to be a possible preventative. More on that below.

Q: Will Keratosis Pilaris Go Away?

A: Keratosis pilaris is considered self-limiting, meaning most cases will go away on their own. Often this means the bumpy texture will reduce as the “keratin plug” no longer is formed at the hair follicle. Most individuals will notice improved skin texture with delayed improvement of the skin pigmentation.

Q: How Is Keratosis Pilaris Treated?

A: Keratosis pilaris can be treated in several different ways. Traditionally, most treatments of Keratosis pilaris have focused on the symptoms. Moisturizers and emollients are a common go-to for protecting the skin barrier, similar to the treatment of eczema. Keratolytic agents like salicylic acid and urea cream can help improve the bumpy texture by exfoliating and reducing the size of the keratin plug.

New technology is also being used to treat Keratosis pilaris, some of it directed at the hair follicle as the root issue. Lasers, like those used in Laser Hair Removal, are being used to destroy or damage the hair follicle which would decrease the appearance and prevalence of keratin plug bumps. While this technology is being tested, we do not have enough data yet to determine if this is a true treatment for Keratosis pilaris.

IPL Photofacial IPL (broad band light) technology is also being used to even out the skin pigmentation and texture in the setting of Keratosis pilaris.

Q: Will Laser Hair Removal Improve Keratosis Pilaris?

A: Maybe. Laser Hair Removal will destroy the hair follicle, and some studies have displayed improvement of Keratosis pilaris following this treatment. Treatment also depends on the affected skin area and color of the hair itself, such as Laser Hair Removal for legs and Laser Hair Removal for arms. All of this is exciting, as we see skin conditions improved by Laser Hair Removal every day!

The best way to determine if Laser Hair Removal is right for you is by speaking to one of our Laser Hair Removal consultants. We offer both Laser Hair Removal (destroying the hair follicle) and IPL Photofacial treatments which will help even out skin pigmentation.

Quick Facts About Keratosis Pilaris:

  • Keratosis pilaris is a non-dangerous skin condition most commonly affecting skin of the upper arm and thigh.
  • Keratin plugs within hair follicles cause the hallmark raised bumps symptomatic of Keratosis pilaris.
  • Keratosis pilaris has a genetic component and is also more common in those with eczema.
  • Treatment ranges from moisturizers and keratolytics to Laser Hair Removal and IPL broad band light therapies.
  • Laser Hair Removal is being explored as an exciting new treatment for Keratosis pilaris, focused on destroying the hair follicle itself.

While Ideal Image does not offer Laser Hair Removal specifically for treating Keratosis pilaris, we do offer it for permanent unwanted hair reduction for those who have it. If you currently suffer with Keratosis pilaris, set up your free consultation today and one of our Aesthetic Consultants will help put together a plan personalized to your unique needs.