Keratosis Pilaris – Bumpy Skin

You may have keratosis pilaris (often referred to as KP) and not even know it. A skin condition that appears as rough patches or small acne-like bumps, KP tends to be painless and not medically serious although affected areas can be red, inflamed and even itchy.

Because of the small bumps that characterize keratosis pilaris, it’s often referred to as chicken skin. Areas that are affected include the upper arms, thighs or buttocks. If keratosis pilaris appears on the face, it can resemble acne.

Cause of Keratosis Pilaris

KP occurs when the human body produces excess keratin, which is a natural and hard protein designed to protect the skin from harmful substances and infection. This excess keratin forms a scaly plug that surrounds and traps hair follicles in the pore. The result is hyperkeratinization (or the formation of many plus) that lead to rough, bumpy or sandpaper or ‘chicken skin’.

Although it’s not certain why the keratin build up occurs, it’s thought to be associated with genetic diseases or other skin conditions, such as ichthyosis vulgaris or atopic dermatitis. Healthy individuals are susceptible and dry skin tends to worsen keratosis pilaris.

Keratosis Pilaris Treatment

There isn’t a cure for Keratosis pilaris, but it can be treated with a range of different products. Manual exfoliation of the dead, dry skin sitting on the skin’s surface with a loofah or washcloth can be performed. Chemical exfoliation with creams or lotions can also help to loosen the plugs. Effective treatments incorporate ingredients such as:

  • Alpha hydroxy acids which include mandelic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid to help reduce roughness and soften keratin plugs. Consider products like Lac-Hydrin, M2 Skin Care or Neostrata Body Smoothing Lotion.
  • Urea, to moisturize and soften dry, rough skin. Urea can also help to loosen and remove dead skin cells. Consider products like La Roche Posay Iso Urea.
  • Topical retinoids. Derived from vitamin A, retinoids work by increasing cell turnover and preventing the plugging of the hair follicle. While effective, retinoids can be irritating so start slowly and watch for side effects. Choose from over the counter retinols (as in Green Cream) or prescription only retinoic acid preparations (Retin-A).

Since dry skin can make keratosis pilaris worse, follow measures to help manage dry skin. Often keratosis pilaris will resolve on its own, but it can sometimes take months or even years. If you are susceptible, the condition is likely to recur so it is important to continue treatment on a regular basis.

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taylor said,

September 14, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

I\’ve had KP on my arms, and on my legs for my whole entire life. It was something that I had just gotten used to, and dealt with. In the summer the sun somewhat would dry it out, and it would look better. However, during the winter it just looks awful.

I just received the Made from Earth \"Pure Aloe Skin Treatment\" in the mail 2 days ago, and using it first thing in the morning, and right before bed has already improved the condition, and made the bumps on my legs almost disappear. When i wanted to purchase this product I read reviews from people and how it worked for some. The point of the matter is, that this product does have the ability to work. My arms and legs, FEEL and LOOK smoother. Smooth skin is something I never thought I would be able to achieve in these places. Also, the bottle is a generous size I dont think I\’ll be reordering for another two months. Well worth it.

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