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Keratosis pilaris rubra (KPR) is a dermal condition that creates rough and raised spots on the skin. It is a type of keratosis pilaris and is distinguished by its red coloration. The condition is also known as “chicken skin," because the affected area looks like a chicken’s skin after its feathers are all plucked out. The condition is often harmless, although it can affect a person’s self-esteem and result to insecurity.
Keratin is a protein that creates the skin’s external layer. When the body produces too much keratin, it results in keratosis pilaris rubra. Instead of being regularly sloughed off, the keratin remains on the skin, forming rough patches on the skin’s pores. The common areas usually affected are the arms, legs, and the buttocks. When the condition occurs on the face, it is specifically termed keratosis pilaris faceii, which makes a person looks constantly flushed. People who suffer from KPR often see the condition as acne because both skin disorders look similar and occur on the same areas.
In many instances, the affected areas also have trapped hair inside the pores, due to the accumulated keratin. This can sometimes cause irritation or itchiness and can even trap bacteria that can cause pustules. The condition may surface during the infancy stage, though it is more apparent during puberty and improves with age. Many patients, however, can experience worse effects during winter, along with dry skin, probably because of low humidity. Eczema, another skin condition, can also occur with keratosis pilaris rubra.
Keratosis pilaris rubra is a hereditary condition, but the real cause is not known. The condition may be harmless, but many patients have sought treatments because of its unattractive appearance. Many dermatologists prescribe salves that contain salicylic acid, tretinoin, and vitamin D, all of which help exfoliate the skin cells at a faster level, which removes the blockage in the pores and decreases the keratin. Benzoyl peroxide can also be used to prevent the formation of bacteria. Moisturizing creams can also be recommended, since the chemicals in the prescriptive creams can be drying.
For home treatments, patients can regularly exfoliate the affected areas with a loofah once or twice a week. This removes the accumulated keratin and skin cells and loosens the trapped hair. Natural oils such as jojoba, coconut, and olive oil can be applied as moisturizers. Keratosis pilaris rubra cannot be cured completely, so regular treatments should be part of the patient’s daily regimen to improve the condition.