Even though keratosis pilaris is considered an extremely common skin affliction, not much is known about its etiology. Researchers point to defective keratin production of the skin as the primary culprit behind this condition, since sufferers get keratinous plugs in their follicular orifices, which results in patches of tiny, red bumps.1
Although they were able to identify the immediate condition that leads to the development of keratosis pilaris, they still haven’t determined the exact reason why defective keratinization occurs in the first place. Studies have also shown that there are risk factors that make some people more susceptible to this skin condition than others.2
Get to Know the Factors That Make Your More Susceptible to Keratosis Pilaris
The studies done on keratosis pilaris over the past years allowed researchers to determine several risk factors that may trigger follicular keratinization. The biggest risk factors for this skin condition include:3
• Genetics: A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology evaluated 49 patients who are diagnosed with keratosis pilaris. The results show that around 39 percent of sufferers have a close family member who’s also affected by keratosis pilaris, while 55 percent had no family history of this skin condition.4
Even though the number of people with a family history of keratosis pilaris is relatively lower than those who don’t, the numbers are still enough for researchers to support the theory that keratosis pilaris may indeed be hereditary. Hence, a person with a parent who’s suffering from keratosis pilaris may have a high chance of inheriting this skin condition.
• Pre-existing skin conditions: Keratosis pilaris is linked to other skin disorders, including ichthyosis vulgaris, eczema and xerosis.5 In fact, in the same study mentioned above, 37 percent of keratosis pilaris patients have pre-existing condition of atopy while 16 percent have dry skin.6
• Excessive weight: Some researchers point to excessive body weight as a factor that may cause and/or aggravate keratosis pilaris. In a study that involved 109 overweight and obese patients, around 42 percent were diagnosed with keratosis pilaris.7 Other studies have also confirmed the correlation of high body mass index to the occurrence of this skin condition.8,9
Keratosis pilaris is also linked to other disorders, including asthma, allergic rhinitis, hay fever, melanoma, diabetes mellitus, malnutrition and Down syndrome, among others.10,11
Moreover, statistics show that age and gender may affect the susceptibility of a person to this skin condition. The age of onset for keratosis pilaris is typically within the first decade of life, and females are a bit more likely to develop this condition.12 Children with keratosis pilaris may experience remission by the time they reach 16 years of age. However, this not always the case, as some types of keratosis pilaris may continue into adulthood.13
Some Studies Suggest That Keratosis Pilaris Is Not a Disorder of Keratinization
A group of researchers conducted a study in 2012 to test the hypothesis that keratosis pilaris is caused by abnormal keratinization of the hair follicles. This study involved 25 patients who were clinically diagnosed with keratosis pilaris.
After evaluating the patients’ clinical history and conducting dermoscopic evaluation, researchers found that all 25 patients have coiled or twisted hair shafts within the affected follicles. These follicles did not have any keratinous plugs as well. Rather, they had normal-appearing openings.
These results led some researchers to believe that keratosis pilaris may be caused by the circular hair shaft, which ruptures the follicular epithelium and leads to inflammation and keratinization of follicles.14
Talk to a Doctor to Determine the Culprit Behind Your Condition
Even though keratosis pilaris is a harmless skin condition, some of the diseases that are associated with it may require urgent medical attention. It’s best to talk to a physician as soon as you notice any sign of keratosis pilaris in order to diagnose the possible culprit behind it and prevent serious health problems from occurring.