Keratosis Pilaris: What It Is And What You Can Do To Treat This Common Skin Disorder

Are you plagued with small patches of red, bumpy skin that remind you of chicken skin? Do these patches seem to spring up all of the sudden and sometimes go away without warning? If so, you may be suffering from keratosis pilaris, a completely harmless and often annoying skin disorder that is very common amongst children and adults. Here are some facts about keratosis pilaris – including what you can do to treat this condition:

What Is Keratosis Pilaris?

Otherwise known as "gooseflesh" or "chicken skin," keratosis pilaris is a completely harmless skin disorder that presents as small, raised bumps that typically occur on the legs, upper arms, buttocks and in rare cases, the cheeks.

According to WebMD, patches of keratosis pilaris can be itchy and swell, but won't cause any serious damage. It is common for teens to suffer from this skin disorder, and they will often outgrow it once they reach adulthood.

If you are experiencing keratosis pilaris over large areas of your body, or are concerned that you may have another skin issue, don't hesitate to contact your dermatologist, immediately.

Why Do I Have This Common Skin Problem?

One of the components of your skin is keratin, a hard substance that helps protect your body from infection and injury. Keratosis pilaris occurs when there is a build-up of keratin, particularly around your hair follicles.

The reason why keratin build-up occurs is unknown, according to The Mayo Clinic. However, it is believed that people who have family members with keratosis pilaris are more likely to have this disorder. People with chronically dry skin, or people suffering with another genetic skin disorder, atopic dermatitis, are also more prone to developing keratosis pilaris.

The Do's and Don'ts Of Living With and Treating Keratosis Pilaris

Once again, it is important to note that keratosis pilaris is completely benign. However, this doesn't mean that it isn't irritating or embarrassing. If you are suffering from keratosis pilaris, here are a few everyday do's and don'ts to help make this condition a little less annoying:

  • Do apply a lotion that contains salicylic acid, urea or alpha-hydroxy acid at least twice-a-day. Work the lotion into the affected areas for a few seconds.

  • Do expect your keratosis pilaris to be worse during the winter, when you skin is typically more dry. If this occurs, make sure to treat any affected areas with a mild body lotion several times a day.

  • Do turn down the water temperature in your shower. Water that is too hot will only dry out your skin, which will can aggravate your keratosis pilaris.

  • Do ask your dermatologist about any treatment options available. According to the Mayo Clinic, severe cases of keratosis pilaris are sometimes treated with laser therapy. If your patches or keratosis pilaris are severely inflamed or are unbearably itchy, ask your dermatologist about the benefits of laser therapy.

  • Don't use harsh scrubs and soaps on your skin. Instead, wash any affected areas with a mild soap that doesn't contain any dyes or perfumes. Pat your skin dry, don't rub, and apply lotion to the affected areas after you get out of the shower.

  • Don't get discouraged if the lotions you're using to treat your keratosis pilaris don't work immediately. It may take several days for you to notice any difference.

  • Don't be surprised if your keratosis pilaris suddenly clears up. It is not uncommon for your patches of dry, irritated skin to suddenly vanish.

Keratosis pilaris is very common and if you are living with this benign skin condition, there is a chance a family member also be embarrassed by their blotchy skin patches. If so, encourage them to see a dermatologist immediately so they can also find relief! For more information, contact a dermatologist like those at Advanced Dermatology Care.