What exactly is keratosis pilaris?
Ever breakout in red or white bumps across the top of your legs, arms, face, or dare I say, your butt? Chances are, the breakout you are thinking of is caused by acne, but the one I am talking about is from a lesser known, yet equally embarrassing skin condition called Keratosis Pilaris.
While that name sounds like some inverted downward dog yoga pose, it’s a common condition that affects 50 percent of the global population; many people who have it simply don’t realize that’s what it is — at least I didn’t.
What causes keratosis pilaris?
I had keratosis pilaris before I was old enough to pronounce it. Because the condition is hereditary, all you need is one parent with the gene to pass it to you. My mom and sister both have the same condition, so I knew the diagnosis without seeing a doctor.
Keratosis pilaris is a completely harmless, albeit embarrassing skin condition. Although it creates a wide-spread area of roughness on the afflicted area, it’s caused by a buildup of keratin that block the hair follicle.
Don’t treat keratosis pilaris like acne
I am one of the completely unlucky people who has this condition on every possible body part. My upper arms? Covered. My thighs? Yep. Even along my jawline, which looks like acne, but while acne breakouts go away, these keratin buildups are here for the long haul.
And while keratosis pilaris looks like acne, I can tell you from experience that you don’t want to treat it that way. I remember too well when I was nine-years-old and decided to take matters into my own hands. I proceeded to use a pumice stone on my arms to scrub the “acne” away. Once my self-inflicted wounds healed, new bumps formed in their place.
Symptoms fade over time
One upside to this condition is that symptoms clear up for most people around their 30s. Nothing will cure the condition except time, but the most important thing you can do is keep your skin moisturized.
Here are a few simple ideas I use that you can try to keep your symptoms under control in the meantime:
- Add moisture to your skin with a humidifier.
- Avoid cold and dry climates as much as possible.
- Grab the sunscreen and spend some time under the sun, in moderation. Keratosis pilaris symptoms are least noticeable during the summer months.
- Use an exfoliant, but be gentle on effected skin.
- Moisturize, moisturize, and moisturize!
Check out the Mayo Clinic for more information on keratosis pilaris.