Keratosis Pilaris

What is Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris, informally called “chicken skin”, is a relatively harmless condition that results in rough, bumpy skin that looks as if it’s covered with permanent goosebumps (similar to the skin covering uncooked chicken). It is a fairly common condition, affecting 1 in 3 people in the UK.

Keratosis pilaris doesn’t usually require treatment, although people with the condition are at increased risk of dry skin and they may say their skin feels like sandpaper.

It is caused by blocked hair follicles and it usually affects the upper arms and thighs, although in rare cases it can affect the face or whole body.

Typically, keratosis pilaris starts in childhood and gets worse in adolescence. Statistics show that it also tends to more commonly affect women, people of Celtic origin and people with dry skin conditions such as eczema or ichthyosis – a condition that causes fish-like scales on the skin. Fortunately for a lot of people, symptoms of keratosis pilaris often improve in adulthood. For reasons that are yet unknown, the condition also seems to get better in the summer months. This may be due to increased sweating keeping the skin moist.

It is not contagious and usually runs in families. Keeping the skin well moisturised as well as using an exfoliator may help although other treatments may be offered.