Keratosis pilaris has been called a lot of things—acne, rosacea, eczema, or even a rash, but my least favorite is chicken skin. As a sufferer of this skin condition, it’s bad enough people ask me what’s wrong with the backs of my arms, but calling it chicken skin, that’s just unforgivable. Seriously, it’s like when my doctor called the spine protrusion on the back of my neck a buffalo hump (true story, don’t get me started).
So, let’s stick to the technical terms, shall we. Keratosis pilaris is actually none of conditions listed above, although it is often misdiagnosed as such. In my teens, my dermatologist dismissed it as eczema and sent me home with a body lotion. It wasn’t until my esthetician friend explained the condition that I finally learned what it is, what causes it, and what I can do to improve it. Here’s the breakdown.
What Is It?
Keratosis pilaris is a genetic follicular condition. In layman’s terms, it’s a blockage of the hair follicles in your skin, and it’s your parents fault. It occurs when the body produces too much keratin (skin protein). Keratin blocks the hair follicle, preventing the normal exfoliation of cells, and resulting in small, hard bumps.
What Does It Look Like?
It can manifest itself in different ways, but the three most common are: red, inflamed bumps (keratosis pilaris rubra); rough, bumpy skin with no irritation (keratosis pilaris alba); and a red, dry skin rash on the cheeks (keratosis pilaris rubra faceii). It can appear anywhere, but is most commonly found on the back of your arms, thighs and butt.
How To Get Rid of It
There is no cure, however, you can improve its appearance. Keratosis pilaris treatment includes daily application of a cream or gel with vitamin A, benzoyl peroxide, steroid cortisone, or alpha hydroxy acids. Your daily skin care regimen should also include exfoliating and moisturizing.
You’re Not Alone
Although you may feel like the only one who doesn’t have smooth, beautiful skin, you’re not. In fact, keratosis pilaris affects 50-80% of teenagers and 40% of adults. Do you have it? We’d love for you to share your tips on fighting the bumps. Post a comment below and maybe we can all find some much-needed relief.