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.
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.
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.