As we become situated in the month of May and summer is slowly but surely inching closer, your thoughts may wander to the pesky little skin bumps on your arms that seem to be the ultimate summer time buzzkill. Dubbed “chicken skin” on account of a series of small, yet stubborn bumps, the benign skin condition is medically referred to as Keratosis Pilaris and affects nearly 50 percent of the world’s population.
The rough, bumpy texture of KP occurs when excess skin builds around the hair follicles to create the illusion of goosebumps, deceptively making it look like you have got a bout of chills in the scorching summer heat.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who do not have chicken skin, chances are that you know someone who does. The annoying spiky bumps are often times as rough as sandpaper, and give off the appearance of having perpetual goosebumps that permeate through all weather conditions. Because the cause is likely hereditary and genetically inherited, KP is tough to treat and requires a great deal of effort and research into methods that effectively combat the condition.
KP is an innocuous medical condition that causes no bodily harm; however, those affected by it experience growing insecurities and a lack of self-confidence, desperate to treat the aesthetically displeasing, grainy skin spots. While most are aware of the tiny little bumps, oftentimes they do not know what it is called in order to look for effective treatments. Once keratosis pilaris is identified, there are many cost effective ways to treat the frustrating bumps that often plague our bodies from the back-of-the arms and thighs to the buttocks and lower back.
Make the switch to fragrance-free products. Lotions, creams, and body sprays containing fragrance may exacerbate the tiny, grater-like bumps. By switching to fragrance-free products, you are less likely to irritate the skin. This includes unscented-laundry detergents, which alleviates bumps from areas where your clothes rub against you most.
Sunshine is your best friend. Studies have shown that warmer weather and increased sun exposure actually improve conditions of KP, while it worsens in the winter on account of the skin’s attempt to produce “hydrating” proteins (keratin) when exposed to colder, more dry weather which further clogs the pores. Be sure to get that Vitamin D, which helps you shed of the excess keratin.
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. Exfoliation unclogs the excess mounds of miniature keratin that build up around the hair follicles. Many exfoliating products target the excess amounts of keratin, such as the Baiden Mitten, which relieves the skin of bumps by breaking down keratin particles in 4-6 once a week sessions. The mitten is an excellent means of making sure your arms stay smooth and bump-free.
Another popular product that contains exfoliating agents glycolic acid, lactic acid, and azelaic acid is DERMAdoctor KP Duty Scrub. Glycolic acid creates separation in the skin by targeting the calcium ions which act as “glue” between the skin cells, while lactic acid gets into the deepest layers of the skin to dissolve the keratin clogging your pores. Due to its remarkable abilities to minimize the amount of debris in the pores, azelaic acid is often found in treatments for rosacea and acne.
Moisturizing for smoother, softer, and more hydrated skin. Once you have exfoliated, it is important to moisturize and keep your skin hydrated. Because KP makes you more susceptible to having dry skin, moisturizing is essential to the treatment process. This is best followed after taking a warm bath (under 7 minutes) and subsequent to exfoliating. The second step to exfoliating is finding the right hydrating lotion.
Apply a moisturizer that contains lanolin (Lansinoh, Medela), petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or glycerin (Glysolid), ingredients that soothe dry skin and help trap moisture. You should also try any product that contains urea including Nutraplus or Eucerin, as well as the ingredient of lactic acid, for instance AmLactin or Lac-hydrin, twice daily- both of which help remove extra keratin from the surface of the skin. Another popular moisturizer is CeraVe Renewing Lotion which contains mineral oil that actively works to unclog pores by filling in the spaces between them.
Oil up your skin regularly. Applying topical oils directly onto the skin, such as Coconut Oil, Seabuckthorn Seed Oil, or Seabuckthorn Flower Oil, is another great natural remedy to treating your bumpy skin (supplementing exfoliating and moisturizing). For starters, coconut oil is a simple and inexpensive way to treat KP. Rich in lauric acid which breaks down keratin, the sweet smelling oil also contains many anti-inflammatory properties to reduce redness and discoloration.
You can create an all natural scrub by mixing 2 tablespoons of coconut oil with a heaping spoon of brown sugar, or mix a tablespoon of coconut oil with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a few drops of honey to produce a thick paste. The malic and lactic acid in the vinegar balance the pH levels of the skin and naturally moisturize.