Have you ever experienced “chicken skin” on your arms or legs? If so, you’re not alone. Keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition, affecting nearly 50–80 percent of adolescents and 40 percent of adults. (1) It looks like tiny, rough-feeling bumps on the skin that may be mistaken for small pimples. But, it’s a completely different skin issue.
Although keratosis pilaris is harmless, it can be embarrassing and even socially damaging. Most medications and over-the-counter treatments don’t yield results, but there are natural skin care remedies that will help to minimize the appearance of these sandpaper bumps and leave your skin looking clearer.
What Is Keratosis Pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris is the formation of rough-feeling bumps on the surface of the skin caused by plugged hair follicles. Many people refer to keratosis pilaris as chicken skin because of the rough texture that forms in areas like the arms and cheeks. These bumps are technically called “follicular keratotic papules.” They can affect any skin surface where hair grows. (2)
Although keratosis pilaris is a benign condition, it can be unsightly. It can even be psychologically damaging, especially because it occurs most commonly among adolescents. There is no cure for this condition. But, if you’re wondering how to get rid of keratosis pilaris, you can manage it with natural keratosis pilaris treatments. These treatments involve daily moisturizing, gentle exfoliating and using mild, non-irritating body soaps.
Signs & Symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris
The most prominent symptom of keratosis pilaris is small, dry bumps that can feel a bit like sandpaper or goosebumps. The bumps are usually white. But sometimes they appear red, or a reddish-pink color may develop around the bumps. The number of bumps in one location varies, as a person can develop 10, 50 even 100 small bumps in one area.
According to research published in the International Journal of Trichology, the most common site of keratosis pilaris is the surface of the upper arms, occurring in 92 percent of patients. Other common areas are the thighs, with a 59 percent prevalence, and the buttocks, occurring in 30 percent of patients. Some people also develop bumps on their face, especially the cheeks, which is commonly mistaken for acne. (3)
Although the skin condition is usually harmless, it can leave your skin feeling itchy, rough and dry. It typically worsens in the cold weather months. Dry skin can actually make the bumps stand out and appear more noticeable.
Research shows that because keratosis pilaris symptoms commonly develop among adolescents, the skin condition may have a psychosocial impact. In fact, it has been associated with developmental issues of body image, sexuality and socialization. Data collected by researchers in Thailand shows that for 40 percent of those with keratosis pilaris, it has significant effects on self-image and impacts their quality of life. (4)