Keratosis Pilaris (also known as Keratosis Follicularis, Lichen Pilaris and Follicular Keratosis) is a non-contagious skin disorder.
An overproduction of keratin blocks the hair follicles and small bumps form. This causes skin to thicken, especially on the upper arms and thighs but also on the buttocks and on the face. Small pimples develop and skin feels rough and uneven − hence why Keratosis Pilaris is often referred to as ‘chicken skin’.
A genetic condition, young people are particularly effected: the first symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris usually appear during childhood and are very common in adolescents. Chicken skin can clear up as we age, or it can keep coming back.
Sadly there are no known ways to get rid of it, but symptoms can be alleviated by regular skincare using appropriate oils, peels and skin creams.
The symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris are small pimples which tend to be skin coloured or red on light skin and brown on dark skin. They appear on the arms, thighs, buttocks or the face and are sometimes compared to ‘goose bumps’. If these symptoms occur on other parts of the body you should consult a doctor or dermatologist.
The pin-head sized bumps (keratoses) are harmless and do not normally cause any pain but they can be itchy, and regular, aggressive itching may lead to inflammation. When the symptoms appear on parts of the body that are clearly visible, Keratosis Pilaris can cause issues around self-esteem and what starts as a cosmetic problem can become a psychological one.
Dry skin is particularly susceptible to ‘chicken skin’. The symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris worsen in conditions of low humidity (e.g. the winter) and tend to improve when humidity is higher (e.g. the summer). Keratosis Pilaris also accompanies certain allergies and Atopic Dermatitis
The exact causes are not known but, as a large percentage of those effected by chicken skin have family members who also have the condition (it often occurs in twins), it is highly likely that it is genetic and inherited.
What we do know is that the bumps form as a result of the overproduction of keratin. Keratin is the protein that gives body tissue its stability and is the building block of our hair and nails. In cases of Keratosis Pilaris, the excess of keratin produced collects in (and blocks) the hair follicles. Skin thickens as a result and bumps turn into hard plugs.
Even though there is no cure for chicken skin, symptoms can be alleviated with a suitable skincare routine and other measures (such as diet).
The first step to managing keratinized skin is thorough personal hygiene. When symptoms are mild they can be considerably improved by regularly applying moisturiser
Skin lotions with Urea (one of skin’s own Natural Moisturizing Factors) are particularly suitable for daily skin care. Urea binds moisture into the skin and has a keratolitic effect so is ideal for dry and flaky skin. For best results use lotions or creams that are fragrance- and colourant-free and apply the product several times a day to the affected area of the body.
Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS 10% Urea Lotion has been specially formulated for the intensive care of dry or extremely dry skin and is often used as a treatment for Keratosis Pilaris. The formula, which combines Urea with other Natural Moisturizing Factors and Ceramide (a valuable skin lipid), instantly soothes skin. It helps to exfoliate dead skin cells and makes skin smooth and supple.
Extensive clinical and dermatological studies on dry skin have proven the effectiveness of the product in treating both dry skin and Keratosis Pilaris.