Deal with ‘chicken skin’

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Keratosis Pilaris is the medical term for tiny bumps on the skin – most commonly on the outer upper arms, but it can also appear anywhere else on the body, except for your palms and the soles of your feet. The bumps feel like sandpaper, look like goose bumps, and is sometimes accompanied by redness.

keratosis pilaris, chicken skin

Keratosis Pilaris

Image courtesy of    

Why do I have it?

KP occurs when Keratin hardens in the hair follicle, plugs it and results in a bump – this ‘plug’ is the reason many KP bumps contain a coiled ingrown hair as well, further adding to your woes.

KP affects more women than men and tends to run in families. It is also more common in people with dry skin and eczema. The good news is that KP often starts improving after age 30.

How to deal

Although KP is completely benign, it does not do wonders for self image. Most commonly, a combination of mechanical exfoliation, chemical exfoliation and moisturising products is advised. So you would use a mild scrub every second day (I prefer a salt scrub with a vegetable oil base – and scrub gently as to not aggravate the skin, which often leads to inflammation), and follow with daily application of a lotion that contains either urea, alpha hydroxy acids (like lactic and glycolic acid), beta hydroxy acid (salycilic acid) or tretinoin (the acid version of retinol).

I have found Environ’s Dermalac lotion, R195, which makes use of AHA’s, very effective. Just remember to wear an SPF with any products containing acid-ingredients active, since they temporarily increase sun sensitivity.


Environ Derma-lac lotion

Since it can take up to a month before you see a notable improvement, the key is perserverence. Also, once your condition abates, its likely to return as soon as you slack off again.

Written by

Chantelle loves the beauty industry and is a junkie for all things high-tech. A background in skincare therapy and a secret dream of becoming a copywriter steered her in the direction of beauty blogging. To read more of her writing, visit her blog

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  1. Pannack

    Amazing article thank you for the recommendation of Environ!

    7 years ago •

  1. Tasha

    This is great! My sister was just asking me about this. Going to pass it on.

    7 years ago •

  1. Sam

    Thanks for the info. I’ve always wondered what those bumps were. It helps when you know what you’re dealing with.

    7 years ago •

  1. Debsie

    My husband got this. Will get him a nice exfoliant and nice lotion

    7 years ago •


    Thanks for this info! Heading straight for the Environ!

    7 years ago •

  1. Botes

    I’ll pass on the information, Environ has great products

    7 years ago •

  1. Maria Meyer

    Already emailed Environ to find out where their closest stockist is to me!

    7 years ago •

  1. Maria Meyer

    Also thought it was some sort of exzema, I struggle with this on my entire body, even though I put a good quality body lotion on my entire body every night after bathing. Gonna go buy some right now!

    7 years ago •

  1. The Ferosh 1

    I have this thing,but it changes with summer I don’t have it cos I use exfolliating gloves and glycerine. And it works

    7 years ago •

  1. diamond

    I think that is what i may have..

    7 years ago •

  1. ricebunny

    never had these but a good read

    7 years ago •

  1. Rochelle Stewart

    I always thought this is exzema… I know of someone that has this on their upper arms and are not using anything for it. Will suggest this.

    7 years ago •

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