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Keratosis Pilaris vs. Folliculitis: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 2, 2024
Keratosis pilaris is a skin condition with rough patches and small bumps, whereas folliculitis is the inflammation of hair follicles.

Key Differences

Keratosis pilaris, characterized by small, hard bumps on the skin, often resembles goosebumps and is usually painless. Folliculitis, on the other hand, is marked by red, inflamed bumps around hair follicles, often caused by bacterial or fungal infections.
Keratosis pilaris is a genetic condition causing keratin buildup, leading to rough patches primarily on arms and thighs, while folliculitis results from infected hair follicles, leading to pus-filled bumps, commonly affecting any hair-bearing area.
The treatment for keratosis pilaris often includes moisturizing and exfoliating agents to smooth skin texture, in contrast to folliculitis, where antibiotics or antifungals are used to address the underlying infection.
Keratosis pilaris tends to be chronic with no cure but improves with age; it is not contagious. Folliculitis, however, can spread through direct contact and requires prompt treatment to prevent further infection.
In distinguishing between the two, keratosis pilaris presents as consistent, small, rough bumps, whereas folliculitis varies in severity and can cause itching, pain, and even scarring if left untreated.

Comparison Chart


Genetic, skin condition
Infection of hair follicles


Rough patches, small bumps
Red, inflamed, pus-filled bumps

Affected Areas

Arms, thighs
Any hair-bearing area


Moisturizing, exfoliating
Antibiotics, antifungals

Longevity and Contagiousness

Chronic, not contagious
Can spread, treatable

Keratosis Pilaris and Folliculitis Definitions

Keratosis Pilaris

Common in children and adolescents, improving with age.
The pediatrician explained that her son's keratosis pilaris would likely improve as he grew older.


Can be bacterial, fungal, or due to irritation or blockage.
Tight clothing led to her folliculitis, causing discomfort around the hair follicles.

Keratosis Pilaris

Genetic disorder leading to excess keratin, forming bumps.
Keratosis pilaris made her avoid short sleeves due to the bumpy texture on her skin.


Inflammation of hair follicles, often appearing as red bumps.
After shaving, he developed folliculitis, marked by red, irritated spots.

Keratosis Pilaris

Chronic skin issue with no cure but manageable symptoms.
Regular moisturizing helped him manage his keratosis pilaris effectively.


Treatable with antibiotics, antifungals, or proper hygiene.
Proper hygiene and topical creams helped clear up her folliculitis.

Keratosis Pilaris

Often mistaken for acne, presenting as tiny, hard bumps.
The small bumps on her cheeks were not acne but keratosis pilaris.


Can affect any part of the body with hair growth.
He noticed folliculitis on his beard area, requiring medical attention.

Keratosis Pilaris

A condition causing rough, small bumps on the skin.
Her upper arms showed signs of keratosis pilaris, feeling like sandpaper.


Symptoms include redness, swelling, and sometimes pus.
The red, pus-filled bumps on her scalp were diagnosed as severe folliculitis.


Inflammation of a follicle, especially of a hair follicle.


(medicine) Inflammation of one or more hair follicles.


Inflammation of a hair follicle


What causes keratosis pilaris?

It's caused by excess keratin blocking hair follicles.

What triggers folliculitis?

It's often triggered by bacterial or fungal infections.

Is folliculitis a serious condition?

It can vary; some forms are mild, while others may need medical treatment.

Are children affected by keratosis pilaris?

Yes, it's common in children and adolescents.

Can keratosis pilaris be cured?

There's no cure, but treatments can manage symptoms.

Can shaving cause folliculitis?

Yes, improper shaving can irritate skin and lead to folliculitis.

Are there home remedies for keratosis pilaris?

Moisturizing and gentle exfoliation can help.

How is folliculitis diagnosed?

Through physical examination and sometimes lab tests.

Is keratosis pilaris contagious?

No, it's a genetic condition and not contagious.

Can keratosis pilaris appear on the face?

Yes, though it's more common on arms and thighs.

Can tight clothing cause folliculitis?

Yes, friction and sweat can lead to folliculitis.

What are the best treatments for folliculitis?

Depends on the cause; antibiotics, antifungals, or topical creams.

Can folliculitis cause scarring?

Severe cases can lead to scarring if not properly treated.

Is keratosis pilaris related to allergies?

No direct link, but allergies can exacerbate skin conditions.

Does keratosis pilaris affect overall health?

No, it's a cosmetic skin condition without health risks.

Can folliculitis spread to other parts of the body?

Yes, especially if caused by infection.

Can stress cause folliculitis?

Stress can exacerbate existing skin conditions, including folliculitis.

Is sun exposure good for keratosis pilaris?

Moderate sun exposure might help, but protect skin from sunburn.

Can poor hygiene cause folliculitis?

Yes, it can contribute to the development of folliculitis.

Does diet affect keratosis pilaris?

There's no direct link, but a healthy diet can improve overall skin health.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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