Keratosis Pilaris is the medical term for the genetic condition that appears as rough, red bumps on the skin – this resembles red goosebumps and chicken skin. It is most commonly found on the back of the tops of arms, but can also affect tops of thighs and buttocks. This condition can be irritating and scratching seems to make it worse, this can cause scabs that result in scarring in extreme cases.
This affects 40% of the population – 50 – 80% will affect adolescents and often appears in individuals when they are children, it is more common in women than men.
Keratosis Pilaris occurs when the body produces excess Keratin – a natural protein in the skin, the excess keratin surrounds and traps the hair follicles/pores, this causes hard plugs to form and cause the red dots that you see – this is known as Hyper-keritinization. Ingrown hairs can also result from the keratinized skin trapping the hair follicles and preventing the hair from growing out.
Many doctors will just dimiss this as a genetic cosmetic problem and regard it as untreatable but there are a few things that have shown to give results.
Retinoid (Vitamin A) creams have proved very effective as they have a normalising effect on the skin and speed up the rate at which skin cells shed, also has a clearing effect on pores and discourages the blockage of dead skin cells. It may take a few weeks for changes to be seen and monitor for any irritation.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids like Lactic Acid and Glycolic Acid have proved effective at reducing the build up of dead skin cells that block the follicles/pores (they can exfoliate inside the pore and the lining) – look for treatment serums or body lotions that contain these ingredients. Beta Hydroxy Acids are also effective – Salicylic Acid also gets into the follicle/pore to exfoliate the lining and discourage blockages.
Microdermabrasion is very effective and I have used this on clients with Keratosis Pilaris with very good results! It is a mechanical form of exfoliation with a suction action, it can actually remove some of the more stubborn keritinized plugs! and leave skin very smooth and even in tone.
The avoidance of Pore Clogging ingredients is also key to prevent further problems – so steer clear of mineral oil in body lotions, also known as Paraffinum Liquidum and Petrolatum, these will only sit on the surface and possibly cause more congestion and build up of dead skin.