Some people overproduce the protein keratin which can clog hair follicles and produce small red bumps on the backsides of the upper arms. This is most likely a common skin condition called keratosis pilaris and can resemble “chicken skin”. The severity can range from a few dry bumps to large, rough patches of skin. The most commonly affected areas are the tops of forearms and thighs and the back of the upper arms. Occasionally the sides of the hip and even the cheeks can be affected.
Winter, when the air is drier, usually makes the condition worse. While we do not know why k.p. occurs – it does tend to run in families, particularly those with histories of eczema, asthma and other seasonal allergies. The following tips can help minimize the appearance of keratosis pilaris:
- Dry skin aggravates so keep skin well-moisturized. Look for a lotion that contains lactic acid to exfoliate and soften rough bumps. Apply immediately after shower for best results. I recommend Theraderm Body Restoration Creme with lactic acid for exfoliation and lanolin for moisturizing.
- Don’t scrub off the bumps – as tempting as it is – this will worsen the appearance. Instead opt for a washcloth once, maybe twice per week. For even better results, I recommend Theraderm Nupeel Natural Enzyme Peel. This gentle gel will loosen the plugs and remove dead skin which allows the Body Restoration to penetrate more readily and more evenly.
- Resist the urge to pick, squeeze or over scrub your skin. You could end up with scarring or dark marks.
Hope this helps. Although not life-threatening or damaging – this condition is very annoying and can be unsightly.
James Beckman, MD