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The Emotional Effects of Keratosis Pilaris

Updated on April 23, 2014
Keratosis Pilaris can have many negative emotional effects on a person's life.
Keratosis Pilaris can have many negative emotional effects on a person's life. | Source

If you are suffering with Keratosis Pilaris you are not alone, studies have shown approximately 50% of the populations also suffers with this skin condition. Keratosis Pilaris causes red bumps to appear around the hair follicle, these bumps are most often found on the back of the upper arm. Although many are affected by Keratosis Pilaris, not everyone suffers the emotionally devastating effects of Keratosis Pilaris. Keratosis Pilaris can cause many to lose confidence and self-esteem not only in the appearance of their skin but also in themselves. Some of those with Keratosis Pilaris feel badly about themselves every time they look in the mirror or see another person wearing a sleeveless top. They are often concerned about the appearance of their skin. Some of those with Keratosis Pilaris manage to miss out on fundamental parts of life because they feel so badly about themselves due to this skin condition.

Keratosis Pilaris Fast Facts

  • No side effects, no treatment is required
  • More common in women
  • Most often appears in young children
  • Can effect any skin on the body, excluding palms and soles of feet
  • Most often appears on arms, thighs, hands, legs, buttocks and face
  • Hereditary Condition

Why would a skin condition bother someone so much?

People who are suffering with Keratosis Pilaris become self-conscious whenever their skin might have to be seen by others. They are afraid that other people will think badly of them or that other people will think their skin condition makes them ugly. They can expend a good deal of time and energy trying to avoid exposing their Keratosis Pilaris effected skin and in turn feel even worse about their skin and themselves.

Confidence & Self Esteem

Keratosis Pilaris is a skin condition that can have a huge effect on a person’s confidence and self-esteem. While the red bumps may seem small and only slightly noticeable to others, for the person with the condition, the bumps can seem to cover a larger area and look unsightly. Although clothing can cover the area during the winter months, it is during the summer months that it becomes harder to disguise the effected skin. A person with keratosis pilaris can become very self-conscious, and will feel better when the skin is covered, but still believing that underneath their clothing there is still something wrong with them. The Keratosis Pilaris can be hidden but it doesn’t go away.


Sometimes those with Keratosis Pilaris will scratch their skin, or try to squeeze out the cheese like material that sits under the skin. This can make the skin red, irritated and can lead to scarring. This causes a compound problem because not only does the person have Keratosis Pilaris but they are making it worse and possibly creating scars.

Emotional Scaring

After living for years with Keratosis Pilaris a person will become accustomed to feeling badly about their skin and consequently themselves. This leaves the person with emotional scars. The person with Keratosis Pilaris may feel that they have missed out on fundamental aspects of life because they were feeling constantly embarrassed about their skin and in turn about themselves and chose to avoid many social situations.

Anti-Social Behavior

Those with keratosis pilaris will often avoid occasions where it would be required to reveal their effected skin; this might include swimming, going to the beach or attending events where it would be appropriate to show their effected skin. A person with Keratosis Pilaris will make choices that seem anti-social due to their embarrassment over their skin condition. This could affect many areas of their life including friendships, family relationships and even career choices.

Special occasions like weddings can cause emotional upset for those with keratosis pilaris since the skin is most likely exposed.
Special occasions like weddings can cause emotional upset for those with keratosis pilaris since the skin is most likely exposed. | Source

Worst social occasions for those with Keratosis Pilaris

  • Going to the beach or swimming
  • Being a bridesmaid and having to wear a special occasion dress
  • Summer months when it is simply more comfortable and stylish to wear sleeveless tops
  • Intimacy during courtship and marriage
  • Visiting the Dermatologist and having the skin examined
  • Trying on clothes with your parent


Many dermatologists are trained only to treat the skin and have little concern for the emotional effects of a skin condition. Since there is little they can do to treat keratosis pilaris they typically recommend a cream and send the patient away. When a person visits a dermatologist for a diagnosis or treatment of Keratosis Pilaris they often walk away feeling even worse about their skin and themselves because there is no cure and the dermatologist had no concern for their feelings.

Intimacy can pose emotional issues and have negative outcomes because of keratosis pilaris.
Intimacy can pose emotional issues and have negative outcomes because of keratosis pilaris. | Source

Intimacy, Dating and Marriage

As a person with Keratosis Pilaris gets older it is likely they will want to date and marry. These occasions offer yet more opportunities to feel embarrassed and seem shy about becoming physically intimate. Since it is likely that a spouse will have to see their skin sooner or later, this could negatively affect the relationship. The dating partner or spouse might begin to think that the person with Keratosis Pilaris was avoiding intimacy for other reasons.

The effects of Keratosis Pilaris encompass more than simply the skin; they affect many aspects of a person’s life. This condition leads to embarrassment and can negatively affect relationships and even self-esteem and confidence. Dermatologists can do little to help this skin condition and most often fail to show any concern for the emotional effects of living with Keratosis Pilaris. Those with Keratosis Pilaris are often left to manage the emotional and sometimes physical scars alone.

If you have Keratosis Pilaris, do you feel it effects your self esteem?

See results

© 2014 Ariel Laur


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