How To Deal With Bumpy Chicken Skin On Upper Arms And Thighs

  A lot of people have chicken skin: rough, dry, sometimes dark bumps on the butt or upper arms, sometimes also on the thighs or even on the whole body. This is called Keratosis Pilaris, harmless and considered a variant of normal skin. Apparently 40% people have it so it's really common and nothing to get self-conscious about. However often the bumps can get red and irritated and then inflamed, especially because a lot of people compulsively pick the bumps. On people of colour it can cause hyper-pigmentation if the bumps get inflamed.

   The key to minimising Keratosis Pilaris is simple: exfoliating, moisturising and preventing irritation. With regular care the area can look pretty smooth, although the the condition never completely goes away.


Gently exfoliate the area two to three times a week. You can use a gentle body scrub (no walnut or apricot shell grit), or use exfoliating gloves like the Kessa, Korean scrub mitts or a dry brush. Be gentle, and repeat every few days. If you have wounds or breakouts, then skip this step till they've healed.
Chemical exfoliation works really well against Keratosis Pilaris -- use a cleanser or moisturiser with AHA or BHA. Salicylic Acid pads work pretty well. Right now I use a very simple DIY AHA toner with 5% mandaleic acid.


Keep the area really moisturised. Use a rich product like a body butter or oil after each and every shower. Coconut oil works really well for lot of people, but be sure to get the cold-pressed kind and do a patch test first. Products with Urea are pretty effective against Keratosis Piliaris.

Preventing irritation:

Skin with Keratosis Pilaris gets irritated really easily, so you need to think about what comes in touch with the area. If possible clean the area only with water, or with a very gentle sulfate-free soap or body wash. Or a gentle cleanser meant for the face. And don`t use hot water. Switch to natural laundry products for your clothes as the synthetic perfume and harsh detergents can irritate the bumps.
Upper arms Keratosis Piliaris is sometimes worsened by rubbing shoulders in a crowded commute. Loner sleeves or a light cotton shawl will protect your skin.
What else comes into contact with the area? In summer I see women in shorts with what I call the "toilet seat skin", basically bumps on the area where the upper thighs come into contact with the toilet seat. At home you can switch from harsh cleaners to white vinegar or a gentle natural product, and as a last step wipe the product away with just water. At work you can wipe the seat with a wet tissue.
Finally, non-breathable fabrics can trap sweat and irritate the area, especially the buttocks. Thongs or skimpier briefs keep the butt area well-ventilated, and cotton is better than synthetics.

Those of you with KP, what do you use to manage it? Which products and routines work for you?

Image via Unsplash

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