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:
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.