Keratosis Pilaris is a harmless but uncomfortable condition that affects the hair follicles on the skin. Keratin builds up inside the follicles and gives the skin a bumpy and scaly appearance, it’s also given the not so endearing moniker of ‘chicken skin’. Keratosis Pilaris is something that I have experienced since I was a child and now I have kindly passed it on to my child. So let’s a take a look at this skin condition and the best ways in which we can treat or reduce its appearance.
Keratosis Pilaris tends to rear its bumpy head in childhood and usually presents itself on the tops of arms, thighs, cheeks and buttocks. Depending on your skin tone and it can appear red and bumpy or dark and scaly. Although not a painful condition the skin can become rather itchy and in attempt to scratch that itch it can often make it worse. A few months ago I had an interesting conversation with my daughters dermatologist, in this discussion he explained about a hereditary gene mutation of Filaggrin, he explained that Filaggrin is formed from the breakdown of Profilaggrin, a protein found in the granular layer of the epidermis. I was interested to know if I carried this gene why do I not have eczema and my child does and he asked me if I had “bumpy chicken skin on my arms”. I’m not going to lie I was a little disheartened at his choice of language, in my field I am not used to such layman’s terms but I will forgive him! However, I was shocked to learn this that this gene mutation can present itself in a variety of dry skin conditions.
For anyone that has experienced this condition they know that it can be irritating and affect your emotional state. I’ve had times that I would rather sweat to death in a long sleeve top than reveal the dreaded poultry-like bumps. So how do we treat this condition? The condition is relative to the host and what may work for one may not work for another. Personally I know when I am in the sun it seems to completely disappear whereas for some people it may make it worse I have noticed in the Winter months it can get uncontrollable.
The most important thing to remember is to not scrub until the cows the come home, which totally contradicts everything I thought true about rough skin and exfoliation but the harsh scrubbing actually irritates the follicles and can cause the bumps to become more prominent (not the end goal). The best thing to do is to avoid hot baths, wear lose clothing and try and get as much air to your skin as possible. Using light exfoliation with products that help breakdown rough skin and dead skin cells.
Although it may be tempting to reach for the coconut oil and try and smother the bumps to death it is important to stay away from heavy comedogenic oils that clog pores and try something such as Papaya oil or extracts. I’ve found this works particularly well as Papaya contains an enzyme called papain that helps to dissolve dead skin cells. Like most skin conditions its trial and error to find the triggers, once you have found your trigger then you can begin to treat the symptom.
© Jazmin Starr 2019
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