Keratosis Pilaris – Those annoying tiny bumps that can be found on the back of arms.

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Keratosis Pilaris is a common skin condition that causes patches of small rough raised bumps to appear on the skin. These tiny bumps (that look like pimples) are caused by a buildup of a protein called ‘Keratin’ (and also dead skin cells) at the opening of hair follicles. The condition sometimes gets referred to as ‘chicken skin’.

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The bumps usually appear on the upper arms (most common), thighs, and buttocks. Although less common, they can also show up the face. They are often accompanied with associated redness.

Those with dry skin, are more likely to have Keratosis Pilaris (KP). It may also occur in association with other skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis / eczema.  KP is usually worse in the winter months, when there’s less moisture in the air. It can often reduce slightly in the summer months.

Although Keratosis Pilaris can occur at any age, it is more common in children and teenagers. It usually reaches its peak prevalence in adolescence and for some, may disappear after the age of 30.

Keratosis Pilaris results from the buildup of keratin which forms a scaly plug that blocks the opening of the hair follicle. Usually many plugs form, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin.

Flare-ups can increase when there is a vitamin A deficiency.

Treatment?

There is generally no 100% cure for this harmless skin condition, however there are ways to greatly reduce the severity and to prevent it from getting worse.

What can help:-

  • Use a gentle soap free body wash (soap can exacerbate dryness). Avoid lathering agents such as sodium lauryl sulphate which dehydrate the skin and strips beneficial lipid layers.
  • Use a ‘gentle’ exfoliator once or twice per week to remove dead skin (without irritating the skin and adding to the problem). A great example is R+F ‘Microdermabrasion Paste’.
  • Topical Retinoids (Vitamin A) help prevent hair follicles from becoming plugged. It also helps with skin cell turnover. However be careful as some Retinol creams are drying. See here for a recommendation.
  • LED or Intense Pulsed Light (ILP).
  • Creams containing salicylic acid, lactic acid, glycolic or urea which help support regular skin-cell proliferation. A good moisturiser will help prevent water loss from the skin (ie dehydration).
  • Laser hair removal
  • Eat anti-inflammatory food such as Omega-3’s found in Salmon, Walnuts, Sea Buckthorn etc
  • Avoid inflammatory foods (non fermented dairy, gluten and sugar).
  • See Gut Health
  • Humidifiers – add moisture to the air, which can maintain the moisture in your skin and prevent itchy flare-ups.
  • Soothe 2 sensitive skin treatment
  • See Skin Supplements
  • Avoid long hot showers which dry the skin out.

More on Vitamin A

Low levels of this vitamin have been associated with inflammation and acne.

Carrots are a source of Vitamin A.  HOWEVER the Beta Carotene (in carrots) needs to be converted into vitamin A in your intestines by gut flora. If you do not have the right gut flora it just won’t happen. See Gut Article. The better absorbed source of vitamin A is from cod liver oil and organ meat, particularly liver.

 

Note:- Women who are pregnant, or breast feeding, or may become pregnant should speak to their treating Doctor or Midwife Before taking Vitamin A supplements or using topical retinoids.

Victoria Isherwood

Registered Nurse

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