Do you suffer from tiny, sandpaper type bumps on the back of your upper arms? Perhaps you have even noticed some across your cheeks, especially in the colder months, or on your inner thighs or buttocks… These goose flesh looking spots could be what’s known as Keratosis Pilaris. With summer and tank top season in Canada now and the still warm temperatures here in Australia, our upper arms are exposed for all to see, let me tell you more about KP and some treatment solutions.
Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is a genetic disorder caused by a keratinization of the skin’s hair follicles. Our body produces keratin, a hard protein found in our skin, hair and nails. In our skin, keratin protects the surface from harmful substances and infection but in people that suffer from KP, to much keratin builds up and forms a plug that blocks the opening of the hair follicle, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin.
It’s actually a very common condition seen in 50%-80% of adolescents who, in most cases, grow out of the symptoms but unfortunately, about 40% will continue to suffer from KP long term and into adulthood.
Although the look of KP is displeasing, it’s actually harmless and most people who have it don’t realise it’s a condition which can be controlled with creams containing Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA), Lactic Acid or Salicylic Acid. These active ingredients help to loosen and remove the dead skin cells that cover and opening of the hair follicle as well as helping to dissolve the keratin plug. In a cream form, it will also moisturise and soften dry skin which helps to keep the KP at bay.
If this doesn’t help then visit your doctor, who may prescribe some medicated creams such as topical retinoids (Vitamin A or) to help promote cell turnover and prevent the hair follicles from becoming plugged.