Are you the type to wear long-sleeved tops even in the height of the summer? Is it because your arms are covered in tiny little bumps? Well, you could have keratosis pilaris.
More colloquially known as ‘chicken skin’, keratosis pilaris is incredibly common.
Keratosis pilaris is usually found on the back of the arms but it can manifest itself on any part of the body. Usually, it appears as very small reddish, pinkish or flesh-coloured dots that cover the affected area.
It all comes down to your pores, the opening of the hair follicles. Your body naturally gets rid of dead skin cells through its very own exfoliating process.
If keratin is overproduced within the pore, it can become trapped there, rather than moving outwards with the shedding dead skin cells as it usually does.
This causes a traffic jam within the pore, leading to keratosis pilaris. This is not a one-time traffic jam, it is a traffic jam caused by an abnormal motorway, if you like.
This tendency to overproduce keratin is passed on from generation to generation; as I say far too often when it comes to skin concerns, blame your parents!
This causes a traffic jam within the pore. This is not a one-time traffic jam, it is a traffic jam caused by an abnormal motorway, if you like.
There is bad news and good news. Keratosis pilaris is a life-long affliction, meaning that you can’t get rid of it for good.
You can lessen the symptoms and try to prevent it from happening but there is always the chance that it’ll pop back up, even if you haven’t had it for years.
The best way to face keratosis pilaris head on is a full 360˚ approach, feeding the skin from within and exfoliating and soothing the outside.
On the inside, you need to be boosting your omegas and vitamin A intake, either through diet or supplements, as omegas help the skin to retain moisture and vitamin A is said to have a hand in helping to correct the keratinisation process.
On the outside, the key to reduce the bumpiness of keratosis pilaris is to exfoliate with gentle, acid-based products.
The acids to look out for are lactic acid and glycolic acid. Additionally, you will need to rehydrate the skin, preferably with vitamin-rich body oil or an anti-irritation lotion.
A favourite of mine for treating keratosis pilaris is the IMAGE Body Spa Rejuvenating Body Lotion (€41.50).
It contains glycolic acid to slough off the dead skin cells without causing trauma to the lower layers, retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) to help with the natural keratinisation (exfoliation) process and vitamin C to give the skin antioxidant protection.
Being a body lotion, it also has to be super hydrating and it delivers on this too! It is on the pricier side of the body lotion world but I think it can be justified by the fact that you can also use it to prep prior to applying fake tan and on rough feet.
Exfoliation will do more to get the bumps gone but hydrating the skin properly will help with the appearance. Everything looks better when your skin is hydrated, hence why hyaluronic acid is a fab quick fix for wrinkles! Many shower gels strip the skin something wicked due to lots of skin-irritating ingredients.
Urban Veda’s Sandalwood + Botanics Soothing Body Wash (£12.99) is a truly lovely product as it is formulated to respect the skin’s barrier and pH level and is packed with glycerine, vitamin E and aloe vera.
Waxperts Wonder Pads (€9.99) are a wonderful homegrown product that work on breakouts, ingrown hairs, insect bites and keratosis pilaris too, due to the high salicylic acid content.
These can be used on any lump or bump you find on the body and come as pre-soaked pads in a perfectly travel-sized tub.
If you’ve tried everything and struggle to get any relief from your keratosis pilaris, just remember how many people have it and how few people notice it!
Your skin can still be healthy if you have keratosis pilaris, as it only occurs because your skin behaves a little bit differently to typical skin. I’d say throw out your cardigans and embrace your beautiful arms but you would freeze – the sentiment is still there.
Jennifer Rock is the founder of The Skin Nerd online skin consultancy and online cosmeceutical skincare store. If you’re interested in having a consultation with one of her expert Nerdettes, click here for more information.