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Sometimes it seems as though there are just too many skin conditions and skin care concerns to keep track of. Lucky for you, that’s where we come in. Think you’ve fallen victim to acne on your arms or legs, but something just isn’t adding up? Before you turn to Google and jump to conclusions, know this: You may actually have keratosis pilaris. No need to fret—keratosis pilaris is a common, harmless skin condition, according to the Mayo Clinic. Still, we’re sure you’re curious. Read on to learn what keratosis pilaris is, what causes it, keratosis treatments you can incorporate into your skin care routine, and more.
Like we mentioned above, keratosis pilaris is a harmless skin condition that’s more common than you might think. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic states that keratosis pilaris is so common that it is considered to be a skin type rather than a skin condition by many dermatologists. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it appears as tiny bumps on the skin that some say look like goosebumps or the skin of a plucked chicken, which is why it’s also referred to as “chicken skin”. Keratosis pilaris can appear on your face—usually your cheeks—as well as on the upper arms, thighs, and buttocks, according to the Mayo Clinic. These rough-feeling bumps are actually plugs of dead skin cells, per the AAD. Speaking of which…
What causes keratosis pilaris? The Mayo Clinic states that KP results from the buildup of keratin—a hard protein that protects skin from harmful substances and infection. This keratin forms a scaly plug that blocks the opening of the hair follicle, per the Mayo Clinic, resulting in patches of rough, bumpy skin. People with fair or light skin tones are more likely to develop keratosis pilaris, according to the Cleveland Clinic, as well as people with a history of eczema, asthma, or allergies, or individuals who are overweight.
You’re probably wondering if it’s possible to get rid of keratosis pilaris on the legs and other areas of your body. Unfortunately, there isn’t a permanent solution, though there are temporary ones available. According to the Cleveland Clinic, some people don’t see any difference, but those that do will need to be consistent with their routines.
Wondering what options you can try to help improve the look of keratosis pilaris? Here are a few common options if you have “chicken skin,” but keep in mind that you’ll still want to visit your dermatologist for professional advice.
Keratosis Pilaris Treatment #1: Over-the-counter lotions. Per the Cleveland Clinic, dry skin can cause this skin condition to look worse. Using an over-the-counter keratosis pilaris lotion will keep your skin hydrated, minimizing and softening the appearance of bumps.
Keratosis Pilaris Treatment #2: Time. Time is your friend! The Mayo Clinic states that for many people, keratosis pilaris disappears by the time they’re 30.
Keratosis Pilaris Treatment #3: Medicated creams. Certain ingredients can help improve the look of keratosis pilaris. According to the Cleveland Clinic, urea and alpha hydroxy acids can reduce the look of keratosis pilaris. Additionally, creams derived from vitamin A—topical retinoids—promote cell turnover and prevent plugged hair follicles, per the Mayo Clinic, which can help with the appearance of KP.
Keratosis Pilaris Treatment #4: Humidifiers. Aside from keratosis pilaris lotions, a humidifier can also be beneficial in hydrating the skin and lessening the appearance of chicken skin. The Mayo Clinic suggests using a portable home humidifier or one attached to your furnace to add moisture to the air inside your home.
Keratosis Pilaris Treatment #5: Exfoliation. Gentle exfoliation can also help with the appearance of keratosis pilaris. The Cleveland Clinic recommends using a loofah to gently brush the affected areas while you shower or bathe, making sure not to scrub too hard to avoid further irritation.
Keratosis Pilaris Treatment #6: Laser treatment. If you want to reduce the redness that goes hand-in-hand with keratosis pilaris, laser treatments may be worth looking into. According to the Cleveland Clinic, laser treatments offered by a dermatologist can help improve the look of redness associated with chicken skin.
Keratosis Pilaris Treatment #7: Shorter showers. Last but not least, shorten your time in the shower or bath. The Mayo Clinic recommends limiting your shower to 10 minutes or less, as well as bathing in lukewarm water instead of hot, which can strip oils from the skin.
Next: Can You Remove Whiteheads? Everything You Need to Know
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