Keratosis pilaris, “KP” and “chicken skin”… They’re all the same thing. And more people are asking, can you get it on your face? The answer is another case of good news/bad news… but today… I have more good news than bad news… So stay tuned!
Let’s start with the bad news and end on a happier note.
The answer to can you get keratosis pilaris on your face is yes. And sorry, but there’s a little more bad news… when it doesn’t go away, it often morphs into acne. But the most important part of this story is the good news: facial keratosis pilaris usually doesn’t last very long, is much less common than keratosis pilaris of your arms and legs, and is fairly easy to treat, either as keratosis pilaris or if it in fact evolves into comedonal acne.
In the DermTV episode on keratosis pilaris, I mentioned that the individual bumps or lesions of keratosis pilaris are whitish colored, narrow pointed raised bumps, and often with pink flat skin in between. It usually develops in teen years or early 20’s, and occurs on the outer and back parts of your arms and the front of your thighs. When it occurs on the face, it’s usually already on the arms and thighs unless you have eczema in which case you can get it just on your face. In either case, it starts very subtlety but eventually reaches the point of recognition as the characteristic bumps of keratosis pilaris. Treatment of facial keratosis pilaris is similar to that of keratosis pilaris of the body… by using exfoliants… but because the slightly pink flat skin in between the bumps is more sensitive on the face than the arms or legs, the first exfoliating product to use, depending on how pink the skin is, is either a 6% lactic acid exfoliant, especially for younger people, or people with eczema who tend to have more sensitive skin, or an 8% glycolic product for older people or less pink and or less sensitive skin. That’s instead of the 10% glycolic product we usually start with for keratosis pilaris of the body. Treatment takes a few weeks to a month or two, depending on your case. And if it morphs into comedonal acne, usually the pink disappears and the treatment is the same as regular comedonal acne with skin type appropriate cleansers, toners and glycolic based exfoliants. Another therapeutic triumph! Now that’s more good news!