Keratosis pillaris (also follicular keratosis or colloquially “chicken skin”) is a very often, but harmless, skin condition. It causes small bumps that resemble acne and rough patches on the skin on the cheeks, arms, thighs and buttocks. The bumps usually don’t hurt or itch and they are white and sometimes red. It makes the skin feel like sandpaper. This skin condition can be annoying because it is not easily treated. However, normally it is not serious and doesn’t get worse. Although a lot of children and teenagers experience it, it usually disappears as they get older (at most by the age of 30). The appearance of keratosis pilaris can be improved by certain prescriptions, medications and self-care.
Although it normally disappears by the age of 30, it can appear at any age, while it is most common among youngsters.
The symptoms may include:
- Small, white or red bumps on the upper part of the arms, legs and buttocks and on the cheeks
- Dry, rough, sometime itchy skin on the same part where the bumps appeared
- Worse condition in winter (because the humidity is low and the skin is drier)
Although the skin condition called keratosis pilaris resolves gradually on its own, sometimes it can result in scarring, especially on the face.
It is not a serious medical condition. However, a person can consult with a dermatologist who can help the process to improve sooner.
Keratosis pilaris is a result of keratin buildup. Keratin is the hard protein that protects the skin from harmful substances and infections. It forms plugs that block the openings of the hair follicle, thus when a lot of plugs are formed it causes parts of rough and bumpy skin.
Most of the options for treating keratosis pilaris include self-care measures, usually creams that soften the keratin deposits in the skin and prevent it from getting drier.
The medications can include: topical exfoliants and retinoids and laser therapy.
Using these kinds of medications may improve the appearance of the skin.
Keratosis pilaris cannot be prevented. However, it is good to keep the skin moist and healthy by:
- Moisturizing the skin regularly (moisturizing creams cover the skin thus keeping the water from escaping)
- Limiting the bath time (to around 10 minutes, because long showers and baths remove the oil from the skin)
- Using warm water (hot water also removes the oil from the skin)
- Avoiding harsh soaps (use mild soaps; avoid deodorant and antibacterial detergent; the skin should be soft and smooth after a bath, not tight and dry)
- Patting the skin gently (rather than rubbing it harshly so that some moisture remains on the skin)
- Using a humidifier (home appliance that will ads moisture to the air in the home)