If you’ve been wondering what those tiny, hard, light-colored bumps are on your upper arms, buttocks, or thighs, then you’re not alone. Even as a skin condition that affects millions of people, few have heard of keratosis pilaris.
Also known as “chicken skin,” it tends to cause rough, sandpaper-like texture that seems impossible to treat. Now, however, people who’ve received laser hair removal treatments in areas where they’ve also experienced this skin condition are claiming the lasers have helped significantly, and those who’ve been bothered by these tiny bumps finally have a solution!
What is “Chicken Skin”?
As one of the most common skin conditions, keratosis pilaris is essentially harmless. Some people can experience irritation or itching, but most people who suffer from this skin condition are only bothered by its appearance and rough texture. These small hard bumps will especially stand out on those with dark or tanned skin, as they tend to be lighter in color, making it an insecurity issue for many. It most commonly appears on the upper arms, thighs, and buttocks and has been known to appear on the face as well. Many kids and teenagers have this skin condition and will grow out of it as adults, however, not everyone is so lucky.
What Causes It?
The cause of keratosis pilaris is a buildup of keratin, which is the protein in our skin that protects us from infections and other harmful bacteria. When the keratin builds up, it can block the opening of your hair follicles, which causes the tiny bumps to form. While doctors don’t know what causes the keratin to build up, they have noticed that the condition is more common in those who have naturally dry skin. Because of this, it can worsen in the colder months.
While there isn’t a cure for keratosis pilaris, there are certainly things you can do to help prevent skin irritation and your skin follicles from becoming clogged. If your skin is irritated and itchy, the best thing you can do is not scratch it. Doctors will recommend that you stop taking extremely hot showers and limit your time spent in the water all together. Additionally, humidifiers can be used to release moisture in the air which can help reduce the itching.
As far as topical treatments go, moisturizers are an obvious necessity. Thick lotions are best and should be applied several times daily. Occasionally prescription strength lotions may be required, but it’s best to try the strongest over-the-counter options you have available first as prescription lotion isn’t a cure. Most drug stores sell lotions and moisturizers made for those suffering from eczema over-the-counter, which might work the best.
Aside from laser treatments, there are only two other treatments that have proven to reduce the appearance of the bumps. The first one is a topical exfoliant, or cream, that contains alpha-hydroxy acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, or urea. While these acids may cause redness, they will remove any dead cells from the skin’s surface, making it harder for your hair follicles to become blocked. This treatment requires several weeks of dedication and daily application before results will be seen.
The second option is to use topical retinoids, as these too will help to keep hair follicles from becoming impacted by unclogging the pores. These products are typically used for acne and will include the ingredients tretinoin and tazarotene, which can be found over-the-counter. A bonus for using this treatment method is that if you’re experiencing acne, you’ll only have to buy one product for two skin conditions. Like using an exfoliant, this treatment method will also require daily application and several weeks for results, but neither of these treatment options have proven to completely eliminate the keratosis pilaris.
How Laser Hair Removal Can Help
Laser hair removal works by using a laser to emit wavelengths of light, targeting the pigment of your hair. The pigment is held in the hair follicle, so when the pigment absorbs these wavelengths, the hair follicle is ultimately destroyed. It’s for this reason that lasers can be used to stop hair growth.
Since the laser hair removal process destroys hair follicles, it also prevents any keratin from blocking up the follicle and causing those tiny bumps. Those suffering from “chicken skin” have noticed a large improvement in the texture of their skin after having laser hair removal treatments in the same area. Several treatments were required before they noticed the change, but laser hair removal will take several treatments as well. So if you suffer from this skin condition on your legs or thighs, leg laser hair removal treatments will not only allow you to ditch your razor but your legs will be smoother and softer without the keratin buildup.
While any procedure involving a laser should always be done by a licensed medical professional, for those seeking laser treatments to reduce the appearance of their keratosis pilaris, this is particularly important. Even though keratosis pilaris isn’t a serious skin condition, it’s best that your treatments are performed by someone with a medical degree. Having someone who is educated on the skin and skin conditions like this one will only work to your advantage. It’s best to work with someone who has treated keratosis pilaris with a laser before so they’re able to adjust the laser and personalize your treatment as they see fit. Even if hair removal is your goal, be sure to mention to your laser technician that you have this skin condition as well and that you’d like to have it treated.
While lasers are certainly not a cure for keratosis pilaris, it has been the most successful treatment for reducing the rough texture and uneven appearance this skin condition presents. Most often, a combination of treatments is the only way to truly get keratosis pilaris under control. Those who’ve only exfoliated and moisturized have had some success. With proven results from lasers, perhaps the combination of the three can truly cure those suffering with this, permanently eliminating their skin insecurities.