This page will help you find out what Keratosis Pilaris is and how to smooth away those bumps.
What is KP?
Keratosis Pilaris, often abbreviated to 'KP', is a very common, harmless skin condition that affects about 40% of the population in the UK. It causes small, hard bumps that make your skin feel rough, sometimes with redness or swelling. They usually appear on your upper arms, thighs, buttocks and face. The skin produces a natural protein, Keratin, which is an important part of its outer layer. Bumps occur when excess Keratin is produced and together with dead skin cells, builds up inside the hair follicles. Sometimes, hairs can become trapped in the follicle and coil in on themselves causing ingrown hairs.
What does it look and feel like?
It has a number of forms, the most common being the appearance of rough bumps around hair follicles on the back of the arms. Some redness may be present around the bumps. This appearance gives rise to the common name given to KP of 'chicken skin'. It can also occur on other areas of the body such as the legs, buttocks and face, although it doesn't occur on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet. It varies in severity and there is no recognised cure although products that help manage the condition exist. Skin feels rough, dry, dehydrated and bumpy.
Causes of Keratosis Pilaris?
Causes of Keratosis Pilaris are not fully understood but it is genetic in more than half those affected. Hence it is usually found in more than one member of a family. It is more common in adolescence, gradually decreasing in severity over the years. It is closely related to other dry skin conditions and tends to get worse in cold weather when the humidity is lower.
How to care for KP skin?
- Keeping skin gently exfoliated and moisturised is key. - Use a moisturiser with three main ingredient types - Alpha Hydroxy Acids to enhance the skin’s cell turnover, ingredients to provide a barrier and stop water evaporating and those to draw water to the skin – humectants. - Hot water strips oils from the skin faster than warm or lukewarm water – long and hot showers can do more damage than quick, lukewarm ones. - Use a skin pH cleanser rather than soap. After cleansing, your skin should feel soft, smooth, and healthy. If your skin feels dry, tight, inflamed, or at all irritated, change product. - You cannot scrub the bumps away. Picking can cause inflammation and scarring – use a gentle exfoliant. Many natural and synthetic loofah type products are too abrasive, scratching the skin’s surface. Irregular shaped granules in many polishes can also cause damage, exacerbating the problem. - Lower central heating, reduce air conditioning, use a humidifier while indoors. - Protect your skin in cold or warm dry air by wrapping up in cotton layers. - You can never ‘cure’ KP only manage it; once you stop your routine the Keratin and dead skin cells will build up again in the hair follicle, and the bumps will return, so regular skin ‘maintenance’ is essential.