(Un)affectionately known as 'chicken skin', the technical term of this completely harmless skin condition is keratosis pilaris.
Approx. 40% of adults and 80% of adolescents have these bumps somewhere on their bodies.
What is keratosis pilaris and what causes it?
Keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition that presents itself as dry, rough patches of bumps on skin. While harmless and painless, it can be hard to keep under control, and can cause some people to feel insecure about their skin. It's not contagious and typically won't cause discomfort or itching.
The small bumps can appear on your:
• Upper thighs
• Back of arms
While keratosis pilaris can appear at any age, you can usually see signs of it in young children. You can have it all year round but it's particularly prone to flare-ups in cold climates.
These bumps are actually dead skin cells blocking the opening of the hair follicle. A build-up of keratin (a protein naturally produced in the body) usually forms the plug, and this creates the rough, bumpy patches of skin, which can also be flaky and dry.2
If you struggle with chicken skin on your arms, legs, or face, you're definitely not alone.
How do you get rid of keratosis pilaris?
While there aren't any cures for keratosis pilaris, there's several different remedies and treatments that help you keep it under control. Here are easy, day-to-day steps as recommended by our in-house Nourished Life Naturopath.
Regular exfoliation can help smooth the skin and buff away any bumps – don't try to pop or scratch them off! While gentle exfoliation can help smooth your chicken skin and bumps, avoid harsh scrubbing that can irritate and worsen your keratosis pilaris!
We find body scrubs, exfoliators and dry body brushes are great at buffing away dead skin, unclogging pores, and encouraging skin cell turnover. But you'll want to avoid synthetic ingredients commonly found in mainstream scrubs and lotions as they can make the skin dry!2
Ethique Lime & Ginger Body Polish
• Packed with deeply exfoliating pumice and coffee beans
• Active ingredients to scrub you clean
• Includes coconut oil and cacao butter to hydrate your skin
• Naturally scented with zesty lime and ginger oils
KORA Organics Body Exfoliator
• Gel-based exfoliator
• Buffs away dead skin cells and helps to refine the skin's texture
• Contains aloe vera leaf juice to calm and hydrate
• Energising lemongrass and citrus scent
Hydrea Dry Body Brush
• Made from natural cactus plant bristles
• Removes dead skin cells without scratching
• Improves lymphatic system and circulation
• Can also be used in preparation for self-tanning application
A good, hard-working moisturiser does wonders. As keratosis pilaris tends to thrive in a dry environment, regularly moisturising your skin softens the dryness, can promote cell turnover, and helps with preventing blocked pores.
Elektra Magnesium Cream
• Helps soothe and hydrate dry, flaky skin
• Rich in replenishing magnesium chloride
• Contains shea butter, coconut oil, mango butter and hemp oil
• Can be used daily all over the body – including the face!
Weleda Skin Food Body Butter
• Quickly absorbed rich whipped texture
• Formulated to provide instant relief & long-lasting hydration
• Unique combination of botanical oils, butters and waxes
• Doesn't leave behind any greasy or oily residue
Skin Juice Super Fruit Body Cream
• Intensely moisturising cream
• Thick but absorbs easily
• Contains sunflower seed oil and shea butter to protect from skin irritations
• Fresh and summery scent
Treatment for keratosis pilaris is all about consistency. Once you find a routine that works, stick to it!
What about the keratosis pilaris diet?
Many people with keratosis pilaris find that a specific diet can help ease their symptoms. Some simple dietary changes, combined with regular topical treatments can help improve the appearance of these bumps.
You can try cutting out dairy or gluten products for two weeks and see if you notice an improvement. Some naturopaths claim keratosis pilaris is caused by your body's inability to process casein or dairy protein. If signs improve, try swapping dairy products like milk to soy/nut milk, and avoid gluten if you think this might also be an issue. In this case, it's recommended to visit a naturopath or your healthcare professional to make sure your body is getting all the vitamins it needs!
Keratosis pilaris may also be a sign of vitamin, zinc, magnesium, or vitamin B deficiency, and your naturopath or healthcare professional can address these issues.
Can you treat keratosis pilaris with coconut oil?
Yes! Coconut oil contains lauric acid which can help break keratin and avoid build-up – aka reduces the appearance of bumps on the back of the arms and body. It's also rich in antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce redness.
Coconut Magic Organic Coconut Oil
• Premium quality, raw, certified organic coconut oil
• Antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties
• Use it for your skin, and in your cooking!
Melrose Premium Liquid Coconut Oil
• Made from coconuts grown in sustainable plantations
• Stays in liquid state, even in cold weather
• Use it for your skin, and in your cooking!
Skinfood Organic Coco+Nut Oil
• Lightweight, nourishing and quickly absorbed
• Also contains sweet almond, coconut, macadamia, and apricot kernel oils
• Gentle enough for sensitive skin
Explore the full range of products for keratosis pilaris.
This advice is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always read the label and use only as directed.
Sources: 1 Body and Soul, 2 Health Direct.