Now that we’re shedding layers and ditching sleeves in favour of clothing that’s breezy and summer appropriate, the problem of chicken skin (which most commonly appears on the tops of arms and is aggravated by heat) is harder to ignore.
There’s nothing like bumpy skin to put the kibosh on smooth, silky limbs. And, if you’re efforts to feel like an absolute goddess have been thwarted by rough, red lumps, you’ll know the frustration of chicken skin.
So, we’ve rounded up a need-to-know guide of what chicken skin is, what causes it and (most importantly) how to treat it.
What is chicken skin?
Known by its medical name, keratosis pilaris, chicken skin appears as little red, brown or white bumps (which look like goosebumps or plucked chicken skin) and are most commonly found on upper arms, thighs, cheeks and bottoms.
They don’t tend to feel itchy, they’re not contagious and they don’t pose a threat to our health. But, they can feel rough and unpleasant.
What causes it?
Chicken skin is caused by too much keratin (a protein that supports hair growth) building up in our pores. “What happens is the hair follicle becomes blocked with a build-up of keratin,” says Eilidh Smith, founder and CEO of skincare specialists Skinwork. Therefore you’ll only find it in places where the skin has hair follicles (so never on the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet). The exact reason behind this is unknown, but it’s thought to be hereditary and “there are some theories that dairy and gluten can be the cause of keratosis pilaris,” says Eilidh.
Are there any triggers that make chicken skin worse?
Hormonal changes may be responsible, for instance, the condition tends to flare up during puberty and pregnancy. But, “heat and not using the correct products can make the issue worse,” explains Eilidh. For instance, perfumed soaps and bathing products, overly harsh body scrubs and very hot showers can all contribute.