On Your Arms And Legs
If youre struggling with rough, bumpy skin that resembles goose flesh or chicken skin on the backs of your legs and arms, you may have a common skin condition called keratosis pilaris .
Keratosis pilaris results when your skin accumulates a protein called keratin. As it builds up, the keratin particles block your hair follicles, creating small bumps. The small, painless bumps most often appear on the back of your arms, legs, and buttocks though its possible to get KP in other locations.
If you suspect you have KP, its best to see one of our skin experts at Manhattan Dermatology to get an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment recommendations. KP may resolve on its own, but there are steps you can take to improve your skins feel and appearance, including:
What Causes Keratosis Pilaris
Keratosis pilaris occurs when dead skin cells clog the hair follicles in your skin. Its not caused by a fungus, bacteria, or a virus. Its not contagious. It occurs more often during the winter months when the air is dry. It tends to improve in warmer months when humidity is higher.
Keratosis pilaris can occur at any age and affect anyone. It usually appears before age 2 or during the teenage years. It can worsen during pregnancy and after childbirth. It generally affects women more often than men. Keratosis pilaris may disappear or improve with age.
You are more likely to develop keratosis pilaris if you have:
- A family history of it.
- Eczema .
- Excess body weight.
- Hay fever.
How To Get Rid Of Skin Tags
Some skin tags may fall off on their own, but most of the time, they must be removed. This can be done by an esthetician or a dermatologist. The most common methods of removal for small skin tags are cryotherapy and electric cauterization. If the skin tag is larger, your dermatologist may use a local anesthetic followed by manual removal with scissors or a scalpel.
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Why Is My Skin Rough
Skin that feels rough to the touch, especially on the hands and feet is often caused by dryness and a build-up of dead skin cells. The skin naturally renews itself however, this process can slow down with age.5 Certain skin conditions can also accelerate the accumulation of dead cells and lead to rough bumpy skin. In most cases, using a specially-formulated rough and bumpy skin lotion daily can help restore smooth, soft skin.
What Are Symptoms Of Keratosis Pilaris
Symptoms of keratosis pilaris include:
- Tiny, rough-feeling bumps on the skin.
- May look like goosebumps or a plucked chicken
- May resemble small pimples
- May be grouped or scattered
- Ichthyosis vulgaris
- Having melanoma and taking vemurafenib , a targeted therapy used to treat melanoma that has spread
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Practice Better Bathing Habits
It is best to use warm, not hot, water when bathing or washing the face because hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils.
Spending too much time in water can remove sebum from the skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends limiting showers and baths to 510 minutes or less to help heal dry skin.
After bathing or washing the face, people should immediately apply a moisturizer to help lock in moisture.
What Is Rough Skin That Suddenly Appears On The Face
Rough Skin that suddenly appears on the face or on the body is as opposed to rough skin that has always been there.
Typically, you will wake up to a rough skin patch, or you will notice it as you wash your face or when you emerge from the shower. It can be bumpy, red, or even scaly, or all three.
Sometimes you will get a small rough patch around your nose or mouth. I have even gotten dry red skin that will become bump if left treated at the corners of my eyes.
There is also rough skin that suddenly covers your entire face or body, as in the case of my three-year-old.
The comforting thing about the sudden appearance of rough skin is that it is usually a reaction to something.
Once you figure out what that is, or if it is a different condition you must treat, you can begin to treat it. Then, moving forward, you can work to prevent it.
Rest assured you are not alone.
1 in 3 people deal with rough skin at some point in their lives, and more than 50% of people have some level of sensitive skin.
Now the question is, what is your specific condition?
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What Are Closed Comedones
Closed comedones are non-infected, clogged pores. They appear as white bumps on the skin and are often what clients are talking about when they complain about their skin texture. Closed comedones are not as round or firm as milia, but when left untreated, they tend to hang around for long periods of time. In fact, they tend to require manual removal .
Closed comedones can eventually turn into pustules or papules . This happens when oxygen cant get into the pore, which is blocked. This creates the perfect environment for breakout-causing bacteria to thrive.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Actinic Keratosis
An actinic keratosis develops when skin has been badly damaged by ultraviolet light from the sun or indoor tanning.
Signs of actinic keratosis
The brown spots on this mans face may look like age spots, but theyre actually actinic keratoses.
Left untreated, some actinic keratoses turn into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Thats why its important to know if you have any of these precancerous growths on your skin.
The following pictures show some diverse ways that it can appear.
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Fordyce Spots On The Face
Fordyce spots appear as white bumps around the edges of the lips and are completely harmless.
Many people have Fordyce spots and they dont cause any other symptoms. The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology says that usually these tiny white bumps are seen on the border of the lips. However, you may also notice them in your lip or inside the lining of the cheeks.12
How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of Keratosis Pilaris
Even with treatment, it may take time for keratosis pilaris bumps to go away. If you follow your treatment plan, you should start seeing improvement within four to six weeks.
Even without treatment, most cases of keratosis pilaris start to clear around your mid-20s, and usually completely disappears by age 30.
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Milia Causes White Bumps On Face
Tiny white bumps on your face around your eyes that give your skin a bumpy appearance could be milia.
Milia is described as small, pearly-white bumps that are just under your skins surface. Specialist in dermatology, Dr. Monisha Gupta says that these bumps are formed by keratin, a skin protein. Milia often affect newborn babies. In adults, Dr. Gupta says that tiny white bumps are usually found around the cheeks, forehead, and eyelids.8
These hard, white bumps may look like whiteheads but they cant be popped and are not itchy or painful. According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, milia will usually go away on their own and medical treatment isnt recommended.9
Some Of The Remedies To Get Rid Of The Rough Skin:
Generally, moisturizers lock the moisture on the skin and prevent the water from escaping. Moisturizer should be applied several times a day and also after bathing, an ultra hydrating moisturizerfor dry skin and oil-free mattifying moisturizerfor oily skin works best. A person having extremely dry skin can apply an oil, such as baby oil or coconut oil. As oil has more staying capability and stops the evaporation of water from the skin’s surface.
Always clean your face with a gentle cleanser before applying the moisturizer. Petroleum jelly can also be used as it is very gentle on the skin.
Limit bath time and use warm water
Bath or shower time should be limited from 5-10 minutes only and one should use warm water instead of hot water. Hot water and long baths or showers remove the oils from the surface of the skin leaving it dry and feels rough. This is one of the main causes of rough and dull skin.
Avoid harsh soaps
Gentle skin cleansers, shower and bath gels with added moisturizers, and cleansing creams are the best option to use while bathing. Try to choose mild soaps that have added fats and oils especially for the dry skin. Fragrances, alcohol, deodorants and antibacterial detergents should be avoided.
Use a humidifier
Choosing the right fabric for the skin
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Common Causes Of Keratosis Pilaris
Rough and bumpy skin texture is often caused by a build-up of dead skin cells that eventually clog up your pores . In the case of keratosis pilaris, dry patches and pimple-like bumps are caused by a build-up of the skin protein known as keratin. When this happens, the opening of the hair follicle becomes blocked, and these plugs can lead to areas of uneven skin texture.
Its not yet clear why certain people are more predisposed to this keratin build-up than others, but many dermatologists believe that these bumps may be genetic. For teenagers, its also possible for hormones to spark keratosis pilaris flare-ups around the time of puberty. Most cases of keratosis pilaris will clear up on their own with age.
Tip #: Target Blemishes And Breakouts
Sometimes, rough, bumpy skin is a side effect of clogged pores. Often, clogged pores result from a buildup of dead skin, which regular exfoliation can help address. However, an overproduction of sebumyour skins natural oilcan have the same effect. In either case, the end result is the same: the formation of breakouts, such as blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. Following a skincare routine for acne-prone skin is key to manage these breakouts and clogged pores. Its also essential to ensure your skin is adequately hydrated, as excessive dryness can trigger your body to produce more oil, ultimately resulting in more congestion.
If you have blemish-prone skin, look for gentle skincare products that wont strip your skins natural moisture barrier, like Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner. This mild, alcohol-free toner for normal and oily skin is formulated with soothing calendula extract and allantoin. Our cult-classic formula helps cleanse skin without over-drying for a soothed, refreshed feel.
*We consider ingredients to be naturally-derived if they retain more than 50% of their molecular structure after processing from a natural source.
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Use Salicylic Acid If You’re Acne
“If you tend to have enlarged pores and are prone to blemishes, that can also lead to clogged pores and skin texture issues,” Dr. Ingleton notes. Mild exfoliation, even during summer months, is key for uneven skin texture, and if you’re acne-prone, Dr. Ciraldo recommends exfoliating with salicylic acid to help unblock the clogged pores and blackheads that could be making your pores look bigger and more textured.
How To Use Exfoliators
People can use mechanical and chemical exfoliators alone or in combination.
A recent small-scale study examined the effects of combining an AHA-containing chemical peel with mechanical exfoliation. The authors observed that the combination treatment led to more significant improvements in hydration and skin elasticity than the chemical peel alone.
However, it is important to note that overusing these products can make dry skin worse. People using an exfoliator for the first time should test it on a small area of their face and wait a few days to see how their skin reacts before using it more extensively.
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What Is The Treatment For Keratosis Pilaris
Keratosis pilaris may improve on its own without treatment. It is also considered a harmless condition that does not require treatment.
However, many patients have cosmetic concerns and request treatment to reduce skin roughness and redness.
Treatments for keratosis pilaris that may help relieve skin roughness, redness, and dryness on the face and body include:
- Using mild soaps or soap-free cleansers and avoiding hot baths or showers
- Gentle removal of dead skin with a loofah or at-home microdermabrasion kit
- Moisturizing creams that contain urea or lactic acid to relieve itch or dryness
- Medications to remove dead skin cells and diminish the appearance of the bumps
- Alpha hydroxyl acid
How Does This Condition Affect My Body
Keratosis pilaris causes small, discolored bumps to develop around your hair follicles. The palms of your hands and soles of your feet dont have hair follicles, so keratosis pilaris wont appear in these areas of your body.
Keratosis pilaris doesnt hurt, but it may make you feel self-conscious or insecure about your appearance.
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Add A Retinoid Into Your Routine
Dr. Ingleton also suggests adding a retinoid to your routine to help speed up your cellular turnover and smooth the texture of your skin. Not only can retinoids give you smoother, brighter skin, but they can also boost collagen production and strengthen the walls of your pores. If you’re new to retinoids , gradually incorporate one into your routine by massaging a pea-size squeeze over your clean, moisturized skin one night a week for one week, then two nights for two weeks, and then three nights for three, until you’re applying it every other night without dryness or irritation.
What Causes Skin Growths
Because skin growths encompass such a wide range of conditions, there are a number of potential causes, including:
- UV Damage: Consistent sun exposure can cause skin growths to form.
- Age: As we get older, our skin naturally thickens. This can lead to more bumps.
- Genetics: If you have an oily skin type, you might experience more skin growths as you get older.
- Hormones: Skin growths can appear as we go through hormonal changes.
Why Is My Skin Rough And Bumpy
- FACT CHECKED
Does sleeveless clothing make you anxious? Are you constantly rubbing the strange bumps on the backs of your arms? Are you convinced that you’ll never be fully able to shave your bumpy thighs?
Our skin does a lot of strange things. Many are the result of allergies, maltreatment, or even health problems. Keratosis pilaris is one of the most common skin conditions. It’s not caused by anything you’re doing, and its not harmful to your health. Instead, it produces small bumps on the skin’s surface. The bumps may be clear or white, and are sometimes surrounded by red, patchy skin.
For many people, KP clears up in their thirties, but for others, it’s a lifelong condition. Keratosis pilaris wont develop into anything worse, and it doesnt mean you have any serious health issues, and there are options available to treat some of the symptoms associated with the condition.
A Pharmacist Can Help With Keratosis Pilaris
Speak to a pharmacist if:
- things you try yourself are not helping your keratosis pilaris and the condition is bothering you
- your skin becomes itchy or inflamed
- you’re not sure if you need to see a GP
They can recommend creams or lotion to help your skin. They can also tell you whether you need to see a GP.
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Face Mask To Get Rid Of Bumps On Face Naturally
There are a number of natural face masks that you can use to get rid of unsightly bumps on your face that show signs of inflammation.
Please read my article on how to make your own face masks for acne at home. There you will find how to use ingredients like oatmeal, clay, green tea, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, and honey to keep your facial skin looking and feeling great and of course, bump-free!
What Treatment Options Exist For Keratosis Pilaris
Since dry skin can aggravate symptoms of keratosis pilaris, moisturizing is key to improving the look of small bumps on the arms, legs, and buttocks. Your dermatologist can recommend skincare products that gently moisturize and provide mild exfoliation to help smooth and soften rough, bumpy skin. Additionally, be cautious when it comes to which exfoliants you use. Chemical exfoliants are generally considered an ideal choice over physical exfoliants, such as scrubs, which may aggravate symptoms.
If you think you may have keratosis pilaris, a qualified dermatologist can recommend the most effective treatments and skincare routine for improving your skins overall appearance. To help you learn more about rough and bumpy skin concerns, weve put together this helpful guide on rough skin patches and how to get rid of them.
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Does An Actinic Keratosis Hurt
While most people see only a change to their skin, an AK can:
Feel tender or painful when touched
Stick to your clothing, causing discomfort
If you find a change on your skin that could be an actinic keratosis, protect your health by seeing a board-certified dermatologist. Should that change be an AK, you have a greater risk of developing skin cancer. Being under the care of a board-certified dermatologist helps to find skin cancer early when its highly treatable.
While having skin thats been badly damaged by the sun or indoor tanning greatly increases your risk of developing AKs, other things can increase your risk. Youll find out what else may increase your risk of developing AKs at, Actinic keratosis: Causes.
Related AAD resources
ImagesImages 1,2, and 9: Used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
Images 3,4,5,6,7,8,10: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology:
Image 3: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017 76:349-50.
Image 4: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 56:125-43.
Image 5: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2013 69:e5-e6.
Image 6: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 62:85-95.
Images 7, 8: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 66:173-84.
Image 10: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2000 42 part 2:S8-S10.
Rigel DS, Cockerell CJ, et al. Actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. . Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008:1645-58.