what are those little red bumps on the back of my arms

Ask The Esthetician: Keratosis Pilaris

Have you ever wondered what those tiny red bumps on your upper arms, legs, and back are?  Those tiny bumps are called Keratosis Pilaris (or KP) and they affect over 50% of the US Population across a wide span of ages from babies all the way up to people in their 90’s. It is extremely common and a lot of times mistaken for various other skin disorders but hopefully after informing yourself you will know what those rough patches are and how to treat them properly.

What is Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis Pilaris is very common skin disorder that happens when there is a buildup of keratin that will clog a hair follicle that blocks the opening with a scaly, rough plug which is what causes the bumpy skin.  The keratin is a tough, hard type of protein that helps with protecting your skin from infection but it’s unknown what causes the blockage.


what is keratois pilaris



What causes the skin disorder?

Besides the medical cause of scaly plugs that block the Pilaris.  This skin disorder is seen more in areas that have low to no humidity and especially in colder weather.  Keratosis Pilaris becomes worse in the winter when your skin is dry and lacking the moisture it needs.  Dry skin worsens the condition causing much more rough looking skin.  Those that have eczema are more likely to suffer from the skin disorder as their skin is usually rough, dry and flaky opening of the hair follicle, there are other reasons why people will find themselves with Keratosis.  

what does KP look like?

What does Keratosis Pilaris look like?

It has been described as looking like the texture of ‘chicken skin’ or ‘chicken bumps’.  These small bumps are dry, rough and itchy and are seen in different colors depending on your skin tone.  Those with lighter skin usually have white or red bumps while those with darker skin will have brown bumps. You typically will find Keratosis Pilaris on the back, upper arms, upper legs, buttocks and even on faces on men and women.  Some may have the bumps in several areas of their body, while others who have it very mild may have a specific area they have noticed buildup.  

Treatment options for the skin disorder

Depending on how severe your Keratosis Pilaris is, regular exfoliation and keeping your skin moisturized will definitely help in minimizing the rough, flaky appearance.  

Look for products that have Alpha Hydroxy Acids AHAs,  Glycolic and Lactic Acids to help in eliminating the bumps. Products that include Vitamin A are also effective in the treatment but must be used according to the directions otherwise your skin will end up irritated, sore and possibly even painful.

There is no actual cure for the skin disorder but there are treatment options.  Dermatologists can prescribe topical creams to help treat the appearance but keeping skin healthy and moisturized will help in trying to avoid more future bumps from appearing.

Overall, Keratosis Pilaris isn’t something that should really worry you, as it’s not a big deal or anything to be highly concerned about.  It is so common that if you really start looking at people (without entering personal space, please) you will begin to notice so many people that suffer from this skin disorder.  

With the proper skin care regimen and proper, continuous treatment plan you can create softer, clearer skin.  Just like anything else, you won’t see results ‘instantly’ or after one or two applications but if you keep with the routine you will definitely notice a huge difference. Start looking at great exfoliators and rotating cleansing body brushes and give yourself the gift of healthier skin without having to settle for unattractive chicken skin.



askderm's guest esthetician

Blog Written by askderm’s Guest Esthetician 

Stephanie Ivonne is a New Jersey licensed Esthetician.  Her fun-loving, outgoing personality will shine through her product selections & reviews to help you discover the hottest skincare and beauty products.

When Stephanie is not scouring the internet for the next hot skincare product, she is a mother to two wonderful biological children, a dedicated foster mom and is devoted to her husband of 13 years.