Mother's Day: Treat her to a complete routine

Mother's Day: Treat her to a complete routine

By edit
Face care
By concern
Stage of skin aging
Body care
Skin diagnostic
All Topics
Raisons démangeaisons kératose pilaire

Itchy Keratosis Pilaris: What are the reasons?

Keratosis pilaris is a skin condition that manifests as hard bumps. Benign and non-contagious, it gives the skin a "sandpaper" or "chicken skin" appearance. In some cases, it causes mild to moderate itching, which can be bothersome for those affected. What causes this itching? How can the skin be soothed? Learn more here.

Published March 8, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 5 min read

Keratosis Pilaris: What is this condition?

The keratosis pilaris is due to an overproduction of keratin by the keratinocytes leading to its accumulation in the hair follicles. Keratin is a protein that ensures skin protection. It forms the basic element of nails and hair, in addition to maintaining the skin's barrier function. However, when it is synthesized in excess, keratin can cause the appearance of small follicular plugs and give a "strawberry skin" appearance to the epidermis. Keratosis pilaris usually results from a genetic predisposition, with an anomaly on the FLG gene coding for filaggrin, the protein associated with keratin in the epidermis and playing an essential role for the integrity of the horny layer.

The symptoms associated with keratosis pilaris most often appear on the arms and calves but can also extend to the thighs, buttocks, and, more rarely, the neck or face. This benign condition is extremely common and affects about 40% of adults worldwide. Difficult to treat, the discomfort caused by keratosis pilaris is often only aesthetic. However, it sometimes comes with itching, ranging from mild to moderate in intensity.

Why does keratosis pilaris itch?

The accumulation of keratin in hair follicles, a characteristic of keratosis pilaris, creates a favorable environment for irritation and inflammation. Indeed, this obstruction disrupts the natural hair growth process and can prevent its normal emergence through the skin surface. However, when hairs are blocked in this way, they may not grow properly and can bend, thus forming ingrown hairs, exacerbating inflammatory phenomena and sensations of tingling and burning.

From a biological perspective, inflammation is characterized by the release of chemical mediators of inflammation such as cytokines. Interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α) are cytokines secreted by immune cells in response to inflammation. They play a key role in the recruitment and activation of other immune cells and serve as a first line of defense against pathogens. Prostaglandins, metabolites of arachidonic acid, can also be mentioned as they contribute to the process of vasodilation, pain sensation, and itching.

In the case of keratosis pilaris, the itching is temporary, the irritation associated with the presence of ingrown hairs can be easily soothed.

Keratosis Pilaris: How to Alleviate the Itching?

Fortunately, there are several tricks to soothe the itching associated with keratosis pilaris.

  • Hydrating one's skin.

    Hydration is a key ally in combating skin diseases. In the case of keratosis pilaris, it helps tosoften the skin and to reduce its roughness , while also aiding in the reduction of irritation and, consequently, itching. To hydrate the skin, it is recommended to apply an emollient treatment like our replenishing balm several times a day, in a thin layer. It is also possible to use thermal waters, rich in minerals and trace elements with soothing properties. This can be achieved by performing prolonged sprays or applying compresses soaked in cool water directly onto the skin.

    Tip : to enhance the effectiveness of your moisturizing treatments, you can add a few drops of true lavender essential oil, peppermint essential oil, or even Roman chamomile hydrosol, natural ingredients known for their anti-inflammatory and calming properties.

  • Applying cold.

    Cold is also highly recommended for numbing itchiness. It indeed has a vasoconstrictive action, meaning it causes a narrowing of the blood vessels and can reduce the skin inflammation associated with itching. To benefit from its effects, apply a cold compress, previously placed in the refrigerator, to the itchy areas for about thirty minutes. You can also use ice cubes, provided they are wrapped in a clean cloth. Indeed, it is important to not apply ice cubes directly onto bare skin, as it risks causing a burn.


  • KHOPKAR U. S. & THOMAS M. Keratosis Pilaris Revisited: Is It More Than Just a Follicular Keratosis? International Journal of Trichology (2012).

  • WANG J. F. & ORLOW S. J. Keratosis Pilaris and its Subtypes: Associations, New Molecular and Pharmacologic Causes, and Treatment Options. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology (2018).

  • FELDMAN S. R. & al. Treatment of keratosis pilaris and its variants: a systematic review. Journal of Dermatological Treatment (2022).


Understand your skin
and its complex needs.

Go further: