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A 2-Step Process to Treat Keratosis Pilaris (Chicken Skin)

While some young adults are troubled by acne, others may be troubled by another kind of skin condition—keratosis pilaris, commonly called “chicken skin.” Although not a serious skin condition, the red bumpy patches can be embarrassing, leaving those with the condition in search for effective treatment. And, if you’ve already got a good skincare routine, you may have the products you need in your medicine cabinet.

What Is Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a skin condition in which small red bumps—sometimes they itch, sometimes they don’t—appear on the upper arms, thighs, buttocks and/or cheeks. Unlike cysts caused by acne, the red bumps characteristic of keratosis pilaris are not painful and are not infected with bacteria. So, what are they?

“Chicken skin” is so named because keratosis pilaris gives the appearance of de-feathered chicken skin. It is caused by a buildup of keratin, a protein found in the skin cells of the uppermost layer of the stratum corneum, that plugs up hair follicles.

Easy At-Home Treatment for Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis pilaris does not require treatment—it is not contagious or dangerous. For most people, the condition naturally subsides by the age of 30.

However, red, bumpy skin may be effectively treated at home in two steps:

  1. Exfoliation

Because chicken skin is caused by dead skin cells clogging up hair follicles, removing dead skin cells before they can build up can significantly reduce the appearance of the red bumps. However, you must be careful not to irritate or inflame skin while exfoliating, so gentle chemical methods—i.e., alpha hydroxy acids like salicylic and glycolic acid, are preferable.

Read all products carefully to ensure you do not over-exfoliate. And, because many exfoliation-encouraging acids can increase sun sensitivity, you need to be especially diligent with sunscreen application.

  1. Moisturizing with Vitamin A-infused lotion

Moisturizing can help reduce the appearance of keratosis pilaris by:

  • Sustaining cellular hydration to slow down the rate at which skin cells die off and buildup around hair follicles
  • Delivering vitamin A (retinoids) to encourage skin cell turnover

Moisturizing will also keep surrounding skin healthy, hydrated and comfortable, which reduces the itchiness sometimes experienced with the red bumps.

Hale Cosmeceuticals has products that can be used to treat keratosis pilaris at home. Although formulated as a facial cleanser, our Dermist GSL-624 Clarifying Cleanser can be used on other parts of the body to encourage exfoliation. Our Re-Fine Milk Lotion contains a potent dose of vitamin A to maintain healthy cellular turnover.

For severe cases of keratosis pilaris, you may consult a dermatologist. The same treatment strategies may be used but with prescription-strength products.

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