Treatment of keratosis pilaris and its variants: a systematic review

J Dermatolog Treat. 2022 May;33(3):1231-1242. doi: 10.1080/09546634.2020.1818678. Epub 2020 Sep 14.


Introduction: Keratosis pilaris (KP) is a common, benign skin condition of follicular hyperkeratosis. Although KP is asymptomatic, the cosmetic appearance of KP can lead to psychosocial distress among patients. New emerging treatments are increasingly being utilized. Yet, there is little to no summative data on the treatments of KP and its subtypes.

Objective: To summarize existing literature on treatments for KP and its subtypes.

Methods: A comprehensive search was performed using Pubmed/MEDLINE, Embase and Web of Science databases. The search identified 1150 non-duplicated articles, and 47 articles were included in the review. The primary outcomes measured were KP treatment type and the degree of improvement following therapy.

Findings: Our findings demonstrate that the most supported form of treatment for KP is laser therapy, particularly the QS:Nd YAG laser. Topical treatments - including Mineral Oil-Hydrophil Petrolat, tacrolimus, azelaic acid, and salicylic acid - are also effective at least for improving the appearance of KP.

Conclusion: While the measured treatment outcomes varied among studies, laser therapy appears to be the most effective form of treatment. Use of topicals also improved KP lesions.

Keywords: Keratosis pilaris; keratosis pilaris atrophicans; laser therapy; skin of color.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple* / therapy
  • Darier Disease* / therapy
  • Eyebrows / abnormalities
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*

Supplementary concepts

  • Burnett Schwartz Berberian syndrome