Chicken skin, white or red dots, on the upper arms is not very beautiful, but unfortunately a widespread cornification disorder. We explain what kind of problem you are with and what you can do against it.
What is chicken skin (keratosis pilaris)?
Most of us will certainly know the genetically caused skin change, chicken skin, also known as keratosis pilarsis: these small, white, or red pimples on the upper arms, legs, buttocks, or even on the face. They look like goosebumps and feel rough like a grater, hence the name. In the affected areas, the skin appears almost hairless. The pimples do not itch, do not hurt and in most cases simply disappear again. So what is it about pimples?
In principle, everything is quite harmless: The so-called chicken skin, also known as keratosis pilaris, develops when the hair follicles become clogged with keratin deposits. Instead of growing inconspicuously, sebum accumulates around even the smallest hairs. The reason: the sebaceous glands on the hair follicles become clogged. However, the hairs also often grow in, so that not only a hardening of the skin cells takes place, but also the skin cells become inflamed. Factors such as stress and dry air can also make the chicken skin rougher.
Often, chicken skin appears for the first time in childhood and adolescence from the age of 10 years. Affected by keratosis pilaris are mainly girls and young women in puberty. As a rule, the skin disorder recedes of its own accord with increasing age. While some affected persons notice the chicken skin immediately and find it disturbing, others hardly notice it at all.
What are the causes?
The exact cause of the cornification disorder is not yet conclusively clarified. However, it often occurs in connection with dry skin or with people who suffer from skin diseases such as neurodermatitis.
It has been researched, however, that rubbing iron skin is due to an overproduction of keratin. Keratin is a protein that gives the body tissue stability and is also a component of the outer skin layer (horny layer) and is also found in nails and hair. If the chicken skin appears, the keratin clumps together to form small nodules. The result: the hair follicles can become clogged.
The chance that other family members occasionally suffer from chicken skin is 30 to 50 percent.
How to treat chicken skin?
Fortunately, chicken skin is not contagious, but it is most likely hereditary and not curable because there is no generally effective treatment. That is why there is no patent remedy against the unsightly pimples. In most cases, however, the cornification disorder recedes over the years.
If there are signs of inflammation such as a reddened and warm skin as well as itching and scratching, treatment against the chicken skin is necessary. Several times daily and thorough care is essential. Special moisturizing creams, refatting ointments, peelings, and oils containing salicylic acid, lactate, urea, or vitamins can flush the excess keratin out of the skin and thus alleviate the symptoms if necessary. Urea binds the moisture in the skin, effectively counteracts certification, and soothes the skin. In any case, do not use lotions, creams, etc. containing fragrances or colorants.
Mild soap and moisture-binding lotions can also have a positive effect on chicken skin. However, the summer months can also contribute to the improvement of rough skin through higher humidity and sunlight. However, cornification disorder will not disappear completely. If there are no noticeable symptoms of chicken skin, no treatment is necessary.
If in adulthood, additional symptoms appear in addition to the chicken skin, or if there is no cure in sight, you should go to a dermatologist and have yourself examined to make sure that there is no further disease.
The following tips can also help against chicken skin
Try several treatments against chicken skin, because everybody is and reacts differently.
- Peeling with sea salt: Peelings gently remove dead skin cells and care for the skin at the same time. Especially for chicken skin, however, it should not be used too often and only sparingly so that the skin is not unnecessarily irritated.
- Sauna: Affected people report that regular sauna sessions help against chicken skin. Through sweating and detoxification of the body, the skin’s appearance improves. In some saunas, it is also common to do a peeling with, for example, salt, as the skin is well softened.
- Solarium: In summer, the chicken skin is usually improved by sunlight, which is something that those affected naturally lack, especially in the cold months. Solarium visits can help. However, this can only be enjoyed with caution, after all, the artificial sun promotes premature skin aging and the risk of developing cancer is increased.
- Nutrition: A balanced diet rich in vitamins and nutrients and sufficient to drink (at least two liters a day and preferably water) is essential for radiantly beautiful skin and thus also for chicken skin.