Keratosis pilaris causes

This benign skin condition is the result of a buildup of keratin — a hair protein — in the pores. If you have chicken skin, the keratin of your body hair gets clogged in the pores, blocking the opening of growing hair follicles. As a result, a small bump forms over where a hair should be. If you were to pick at the bump, you may notice a small body hair emerge.

The exact cause of keratin buildup is unknown, but doctors think it may be associated with other skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and genetic diseases.

Who can develop keratosis pilaris?

Chicken skin is common in people with:

  • dry skin
  • eczema
  • ichthyosis
  • hay fever
  • melanoma
  • obesity
  • women
  • children or teenagers
  • Celtic ancestry

Anyone can be susceptible to this skin condition, however it’s most common in children and teenagers. Keratosis pilaris often begins in the late infancy years or during adolescence. It typically clears up in one’s mid-twenties, with most cases completely gone by the age of 30.

Hormonal changes can cause flare-ups during pregnancy for women and during puberty for teenagers. Keratosis pilaris is most common in people with fair skin.

How to get rid of keratosis pilaris

There’s no known cure for keratosis pilaris. It usually clears up on its own with age. There are some treatments you can try to alleviate the look of it, however, keratosis pilaris is typically treatment-resistant. Improvement may take months, if the condition improves at all.

Dermatological treatments

Dermatologist, may recommend a moisturizing treatment to soothe itchy, dry skin and to improve the skin’s appearance from the keratosis rash. Prescribed topical creams can also remove dead skin cells or prevent hair follicles from being blocked. Two common ingredients within moisturizing treatments are urea and lactic acid. Together these ingredients help to loosen and remove dead skin cells and soften dry skin. Other treatment methods your dermatologist may prescribe include:

  • microdermabrasion, an intense exfoliating treatment
  • chemical peels
  • retinol creams

Be wary of the ingredients in these creams though, and talk with your doctor before using them. Some prescription topical creams include acids that may cause negative side effects including:

  • redness
  • stinging
  • irritation
  • dryness

There are also some experimental treatment options available, such as photopneumatic therapy and vascular laser treatment.

Keratosis pilaris home remedies

If you don’t like the look of your keratosis pilaris, there are some techniques you can try to treat it at home. Though the condition cannot be cured, self-care treatments can help to minimize bumps, itching, and irritation.

  1. Warm baths. Taking short, warm baths can help to unclog and loosen pores. Rub your skin with a stiff brush to potentially remove bumps. It’s important to limit your time in the bath, however, because longer wash times can remove the body’s natural oils.
  2. Exfoliation. Daily exfoliation can help to improve the appearance of the skin. Dermatologists recommend gently removing dead skin with a loofah or pumice stone.
  3. Coconut oil. Coconut oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used as a base to a sugar scrub to help exfoliate and soothe itchy, dry skin.
  4. Avoid tight clothes. Wearing tight clothes can cause friction that can irritate the skin.
  5. Humidifiers. Humidifiers add moisture to the air in a room, which can maintain the moisture in your skin and prevent itchy flare-ups.