We Demystify Those Annoying Bumps On Your Arms, AKA 'Chicken Skin'
The Debrief: There’s only one type of chicken skin we're ok with, and that’s the roasted kind
Chances are you’re familiar with the phrase ‘chicken skin’. No, not the edible kind which you nab off the plate when your mum’s cooking a roast. I’m talking about the little annoying bumps you might have on your arms or legs that just never seem to go. I’m sure you know the ones. Now with summer just around the corner (it is, isn’t it? Tell me it is) and the prospect of said chicken skin on full display, I’m going to de-mystify the little blighters for you so once it’s warm enough to whack on that summer dress, you’ll have baby-smooth skin. Or at least skin that's a bit less chickeny anyway.
So, what exactly is it?
Lets start with the basics. Keratosis Pilaris (aka ‘KP’ aka ‘‘chicken skin’) are patches of tiny, ‘spiky’, reddish or skin-coloured bumps. They pretty much look like you have constant goosebumps and they’re usually found on the backs of the upper arms, bum and thighs. Just to be clear, it’s totally harmless (just damn annoying), but if you are concerned about it, book an appointment with your GP to get it checked out.
Why do people get it?
This is the slightly science-y part so bear with me. The bumps are caused when your body produces too much keratin. Keratin is a protein found in the outer layer of skin which makes it strong, flexible and waterproof. But when your body produces too much of it, it can block your hair follicles with plugs of tough skin (gross) which creates the bumps. The annoying thing is, no one’s really sure why your body starts to produce extra keratin in the first place.
Who gets it?
Pretty much anyone, tbh, although women are more likely to get it. Typical. The British Skin Foundation reckons up to a third of the population are affected by KP but it tends to be more common in younger people; the Mayo Clinic says it disappears by the time you turn 30 for most people.
Other reasons you might develop it is If you have eczema. And if your parents had it back in the day, you’ve got about a 50% chance of inheriting it - cheers, Ma. Another thing; it’s worse in the winter because of the harsh, drying weather so that’s yet another reason to be excited for summer.
Right. Now, how the hell do I get rid of it?
Firstly, there’s no ‘cure’ for KP, but you can improve it and hopefully get rid of it eventually, so don’t stop reading just yet. It’s tempting to try scrubbing them off, but don’t. Harsh scrubbing will cause inflammation, leaving them red and probably a little sore, and they'll still be there. Make sure you don’t use harsh soaps either because they strip the skin of moisture. Instead, use gentle body washes like the Amerliorate Skin Smoothing Shower Cream, £15 or the Eucerin Dry Skin Replenish Body Wash 5% Urea, £6. Chemical exfoliators are what you need because they gently exfoliate the skin without being abrasive so follow up with a moisturiser like Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Anti-Aging Smoothing Lotion, £4.29 which contains non-scary acids that removes dead skin cells without causing irritation. Or the Eucerin Dry Skin Intensive Lotion 10% w/w Cutaneous Emulsion Urea, £10.49 which will help smooth skin whilst giving you a strong shot of moisture. Try to avoid hot showers and pat yourself dry after showering as well, because these tend to make them more angry.
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