Sometimes called “chicken skin,” Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is a harmless but common skin condition that causes rough, dry patches of tiny, pimple-like bumps on arms, legs, or butt cheeks. Here’s what you need to know.
What causes KP?
The same protein that makes up your hair, skin and nails, called keratin, can become built up in your hair follicles. That buildup clogs the opening of the follicle, causing a bump. Usually, these keratin plugs form in many hair follicles at once, leaving behind patches of these rough, scaly bumps.
Who gets KP?
It’s not entirely clear why some people get KP. It could be a genetic condition, but it is not spread through skin-to-skin contact or other environmental factors. We do know that dry skin tends to make KP worse, which is why many people see flare-ups in the winter months.
Keratosis Pilaris vs. Folliculitis
Folliculitis and KP are similar in that both conditions cause bumps, but there are several key differences - the biggest being that KP doesn’t itch or hurt, while folliculitis is usually characterized by red, itchy, painful bumps. This is because KP is simply a cluster of clogged hair follicles while folliculitis is an infection or inflammation of hair follicles.
KP is caused by a buildup of keratin, but folliculitis can be caused by either bacteria or fungi. Because of this, folliculitis is highly preventable and treatable but keratosis treatment is a bit more challenging.
Will my chicken skin go away?
For some, KP goes away by age 30. For others, it never goes away. Even though there is no cure, you can make it feel and look better with regular exfoliation and certain skincare products like Buff & Brighten with lactic and salicylic acids to smooth rough, bumpy skin.
Keratosis Pilaris Treatment
Medical KP treatment is usually not necessary. If you want to smooth the look of KP, here are a few things you can do.
1. Use a Topical Exfoliant
After gently exfoliating skin with a dry skin brush or loofah, use a product with a chemical exfoliant like Buff & Brighten. The physical exfoliation removes dead skin cells and buildup from the surface, and the chemical exfoliator helps loosen the keratin plug and smooth skin.
2. Keep Skin Moisturized
Because dry skin can trigger KP flare-ups, it’s important to moisturize skin regularly. After showering, apply a rich moisturizing cream or lotion to damp skin. This will help lock in moisture and prevent dry skin.
3. Avoid Drying Soaps
Remember, dry skin can make KP worse. Most common soaps and body washes strip the skin’s moisture barrier, leaving it very dry and prone to KP flares. Instead, use a mild cleanser like Moisture Restoring Wash that not only supports a healthy skin barrier, but boosts skin moisture for up to 24 hours after every shower.
4. Skip Shaving & Waxing
Shaving or waxing can provide some beneficial exfoliation for the average person, but for anyone with KP or “chicken skin,” hair removal can make bumps worse. If you’ve got KP, laser hair removal might be your best bet to get rid of unwanted hair without causing a flare-up.
This website is for informational purposes only and not to be considered as medical advice. This information is not intended to diagnose, prescribe, treat, or cure any medical condition.