It is common to form perceptions and comparisons in a time when influencers and followers rule. The same applies to skincare. The fixation with having flawless, spot-free skin has become more prevalent than ever, from ‘gram-ready legs to faultless, ultra-smooth arms. But we are all outclassed by biology. Keratosis Pilaris is a hereditary skin disorder that affects more than 40% of adults during their lifetime and is well-known for its synonyms ‘strawberry skin’ and ‘chicken skin.’
Itchy or dry skin, particularly on the backs of the upper arms, upper legs, and buttocks, and bumps that resemble goosebumps are the condition’s defining features.
KP cannot be cured, but by following a healthy skincare routine that incorporates exfoliation and hydration, one can manage their symptoms.
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Causes of Keratosis Pilaris/ Strawberry Skin/ Chicken Skin
As the name suggests, Keratosis Pilaris, a genetic dermal disorder, is often caused by a build-up of keratin. Keratin is a hard protein on hair follicles. The medical condition is characterized by tiny, rough bumps on the skin surface due to blockages of hair follicles by oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells.
In addition to skin, keratin is also present in hair and nails. Although the exact cause has not been identified yet, it runs in families and isn’t contagious. It is most commonly observed in people who have dry skin and the condition gets worse in winter when there is a lack of moisture in the air.
Moreover, Keratosis Pilaris is more prevalent in teenagers and individuals in their early 20s that eventually disappear by the age of 30 and above.
Though the condition is harmless, Strawberry skin or Chicken skin has taken a leap among beauty communities and skincare influencers.
While there is no cure for this skin disorder, here are some imperative tips that may help overcome Keratosis Pilaris.
Skincare routine to manage Keratosis Pilaris/ Strawberry Skin/ Chicken Skin
Smoothen rough bumps through exfoliation
Dermatologists suggest using hydrating solutions, avoiding tight or skin-fit clothes, and employing humidifiers in dry weather conditions along with hypoallergenic goods to overcome strawberry skin or chicken skin.
Additionally, it is also recommended to moisturise the bumpy areas frequently in order to prevent dryness, particularly just after a shower or bath as the skin is more absorbent at that time.
How to exfoliate the skin?
Exfoliating your skin gets rid of surface-level dead skin cells. With a loofah, buff puff, or rough washcloth, you can gently scrub out these dead cells. However, scrubbing the skin can aggravate Keratosis Pilaris and should be avoided.
While there are numerous tutorials on exfoliating gloves or scrubs, it is crucial to remember that physical exfoliation can weaken the skin barrier by causing micro-tears on the skin, making it dry and more uneven.
Solutions that are gentle but more effective than a scrub might be used for chemical exfoliation to save the day. Utilizing moisturisers containing lactic, salicylic, or uric acid, which gently unclogs hair follicles and smoothes skin texture, is a good option for those with strawberry skin.
Slather on moisturizer
Using chemical exfoliants dries the skin, so it is suggested by dermatologists to utilise a moisturizer, an oil-free cream or ointment to help prevent clogged skin pores.
Since Keratosis Pilaris-affected skin responds favourably to moisturisers as well as exfoliants, hydration is a crucial component.
Ceramide-containing, non-comedogenic moisturisers can improve the appearance of the skin without blocking pores. A hydrator that is emollient-rich also helps to smooth out rough skin over time.
Frequently, soapy or foamy solutions might leave our skin feeling clean but can also deprive it of much-needed moisture.
To maintain healthy, hydrated, and properly nourished skin, cleansers and face washes should be mild, moisturising, and pH-balanced.
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Tips to prevent skin flare-ups
Moisture the skin
Keratosis Pilaris often flares when the skin becomes dry and there is less moisture in the air. So, it is important to nourish the skin frequently, just after bathing or at least 2 or 3 times a day when the skin feels dry.
Think twice before hair removal
In people with Keratosis Pilaris, shaving or waxing might exacerbate the lumps. Without leading to an outbreak, laser hair removal can remove the hair.
Take short showers and baths
In order to prevent drying of the skin, it is advised to take short showers with lukewarm water and also restrict bathing to once a day.
Use gentle cleansers
Bar soaps can dry the skin so always use mild cleansers.
These tanners tend to make tiny or rough bumps more obvious rather than hide them. So avoid using them.
Use a humidifier when the air gets dry
Using humidifiers when the air feels dry helps prevent the skin from becoming dry.
Keratosis Pilaris is not a medical condition. Although it is not contagious and doesn’t hurt or itch, a number of people might feel embarrassed about it. It is also obvious you probably notice it more than other people do.
Don’t panic. The above-mentioned skincare routine might help you manage the symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris or Strawberry skin or Chicken skin.
Even though there are several components that can help control Keratosis Pilaris, it is crucial to take precautions such as applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen to shield the skin from harm.
Last but not least, accept and love your skin condition because self-confidence is the only advice that is ever right.
At times when you are not sure what product to choose and use, ask a dermatologist who will guide you through cleansers and moisturizers that might work for you.
If your skin doesn’t get better after following these simple steps or moisturizing regimen, book a complete body checkup including skin testing or Genetic Testing that can provide a detailed view of your current medical condition.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Certainly. The condition becomes worse in winter because of the excessively dry air and less humidity in the environment causing the skin to dry out. It can also worsen during pregnancy.
Consuming foods rich in vitamin A such as carrots, salmon and liver, and sweet potatoes reduce the levels of keratin in the body. Hence, eat them in moderation.
Exfoliate skin gently using a loofah or rough washcloth, take short showers, and use oil-free creams and ointments can help treat Keratosis Pilaris at home.
The main cause of the flareup of Keratosis Pilaris is winter months when the air is too dry causing the skin to dry out.
Keratosis Pilaris can’t be cured permanently which is why one should manage the rough bumps to keep them under control using moisturizers, medicated creams, and humidifiers, and avoid wearing tight clothes.
Written by: Anjali Dharra