If you do not have keratosis pilaris then you very well may have never heard of it. Even though 40-50% of the population suffer from this dermatological disorder, it is not frequently talked about. It is also sometimes referred to as “chicken skin”, which is exactly how every woman wants to be described. This skin disorder is characterized by a keratin build up in the skin which causes small bumps to form on the upper arms, thighs and occasionally on the buttocks region. These bumps are typically skin color, but can be red in irritated or acne prone skin. They typically are not painful or itch; the only real concern is their unsightly appearance.
What are these Bumps?
I personally had not heard this term until long after I realized I was cursed with these loathsome bumps. As a child, I had never even had a doctor mention it on any exam. The first time I even really paid attention to it was when a child behind me in class asked me if I was cold. Even though I am extremely cold-natured, it seemed like an odd question to me until I realized he was asking because the horrid bumps on my arms looked a lot like permanent goose bumps. I guess that I have been blessed to have a very mild case only on my arms, but it still bothered me, causing me to be extremely self-conscious and I have searched for a cure or reliable treatment ever since.
What has Worked for me
There is no known cause or permanent cure for keratosis pilaris. Therefore, any treatment must be ongoing. There are two main types of treatments or home remedies: one focuses on moisturizing the skin to soften the keratin plugs and relieve dryness and irritation, and the other focuses on gently exfoliating and removing extra keratin from the skin. Lotions or skin cleansers with salicylic acid or alpha-hydroxy acid help exfoliate the skin, but can sometimes irritate sensitive skin. Lotions with urea (Eucerin) or lactic acid (AmLactin) remove extra keratin from the skin. Since different skin types react better to some treatments, it is sometimes necessary to try different products and methods or a combination to see what works best for you. I have a very mild case and my skin is very sensitive so it has responded better to treatments that are moisturizing. I have seen a great improvement from using a gentle soap (Dove), Eucerin cream and a petroleum based lotion. The good news is that this disorder improves with age. At the age of 34, mine is now hardly noticeable. However, different skin types may respond better to a more stringent treatment. Since it is genetic in nature, my fifteen year old son also suffers from this skin disorder. As a teenager with acne prone skin, he has seen better results with adding a lotion containing salicylic acid to this regimen. Many people suggest exfoliating your skin with loofas, but this, in my experience, seems to just irritate the skin and exacerbate the problem.
Other Possible Treatments Worth Considering
Keratosis pilaris appears to be related to eczema, asthma and allergies. Due to this association with eczema, Magnesium may be beneficial in the treatment. Livestrong.com suggests using a supplement of 100-300 mg and a topical ointment with magnesium. I have not personally tried this, but I do have very bad allergies and can see a correlation between the two. As with any supplement, please contact your doctor before use. It has also been suggested that a gluten-free diet could be beneficial. I have not gotten on the gluten-free band wagon as of yet, but when I researched signs of gluten intolerance I realized I am suffering from a great deal of them. It might be worth a try to change my diet and see if this helps relieve any of these issues. Coconut oil, which seems to be the new miracle cure, has also been suggested to be helpful when you apply it to the problem area daily. In extreme cases, your doctor may suggest a short dose of corticosteroid to reduce the inflammation. Whatever course of action you choose, the most important factor in relieving your symptoms is patience and consistency.