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Genetics And Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a widespread skin condition that involves raised, rough patches along the surface of the skin. These bumpy patches are caused by the buildup of keratin, a protective skin protein. As keratin buildup progresses, it creates tiny plugs that block hair follicles and forms small, discolored bumps on the skin. Although keratosis pilaris is cosmetologically displeasing, the condition is harmless and does not usually involve medical complications.

This skin disorder seems to be inherited: that is, your parents' genetics strongly influence your chance of exhibiting the symptoms of keratosis pilaris at some point in your life. The majority of patients have other family members who also are experiencing or have experienced keratosis pilaris before. If one individual in a set of parents has keratosis pilaris, researchers estimate that there is a one in two chance (50%) that any children they have will inherit the condition and demonstrate symptoms during their lifetime. This conclusion is based on recent studies which suggest that keratosis pilaris is inherited as an autosomal-dominant gene, which means that a single gene from either parent can create the condition in a child. Keratosis pilaris is commonly seen in twins, which supports the genetic association of the condition.

Despite its genetic influences, keratosis pilaris does not affect certain racial groups more than others. In fact, researchers maintain that the condition "has no widely described racial predilection or predominance," and it is "commonly noted worldwide in persons of all races." Interestingly, studies also note that although both genders are affected by keratosis pilaris, females are usually affected more often than males.

Keratosis pilaris may also occur in association with certain genetic illnesses, studies suggest. For example, chromosomal 18p deletion appears to correlate with the presence of keratosis pilaris in some patients. Additionally, keratosis pilaris may also be present alongside other skin conditions like atopic dermatitis (eczema) that involve similarly dry skin. Partially because of its genetic influences, there is no way to fully prevent keratosis pilaris, although the condition may improve over time if treated appropriately. Treatment usually involves ongoing maintenance through daily moisturizing, exfoliating, and applying glycolic or lactic acids at the recommendation of a doctor or dermatologist.


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