Have you noticed small red bumps on your legs, back, or upper arms? Do they look a little like goosebumps but are there permanently? If so, you might have a condition known as keratosis pillars (KP). Colloquially, the condition is regarded as strawberry legs or chicken skin. Below are some of our tips on how to achieve smooth, bump-free skin you can be proud of.
Somewhere between 40-50% of people suffer from KP, so you’re certainly not alone! Even so, it is still a condition that is widely misdiagnosed. This makes it particularly difficult to eliminate, with people erroneously thinking that it’s hives, acne, or shaving irritation. We would go as far as to say that KP is one of the most challenging conditions a dermatologist can be faced with, as it’s so common and tough to treat. That being said, you can do something about it if it’s correctly diagnosed in the first place.
Keratosis pilaris explained
KP is a condition that occurs as a result of the build-up of retained keratin. Keratin, which is a common protein found in nails, hair, and skin, blocks your hair follicles, which causes your skin to feel bumpy and look pimply. Although the bumps that form on your skin aren’t itchy, lots of people with KP pick the bumps out of habit, which actually makes the condition significantly worse. KP shouldn’t be confused with acne, as it occurs on parts of the skin that are dry, not oily. As such, it is lacking in a sebum component and is dry to the touch, often feeling a little like sandpaper.
Who suffers from KP?
In most instances, KP develops around the age of puberty. In fact, around 80% of adolescents globally are affected by KP, but it can appear in people of all ages. There are some circumstances that contribute to KP and can cause it to flare up. For instance, the condition is usually worse in the winter, as there is less moisture in the air. People who have a history of other skin conditions like eczema, or suffer from seasonal allergies, may notice KP flare up when the weather is cold.
What causes KP?
In some cases, KP may be genetic and is related to a desmoglein 4 gene mutation. In approximately 50% of KP cases, a family link is found. Another possible cause of KP is diet, particularly processed foods, sugar, gluten, and dairy. While these food groups are thought to worsen the condition, there’s no hard evidence that this is the case as of yet. When trying to establish if any foods cause KP, dermatologists typically recommend an elimination diet, encouraging people to remove certain foods for a period of at least four weeks before seeing if their KP symptoms have improved.
How is KP treated?
Although there isn’t a cure for KP, there are various ways you can manage the condition. The first thing is to start a daily cleansing ritual, which includes body brushing before you step in the shower. You should use a product that contains glycolic or salicylic acid and apply it with a glycolic pad on the affected areas. After your shower, you should apply a lactic-acid based moisturiser (salicylic, glycolic, ceramics, hyaluronic acids all work as well) to the skin. To treat this dry-skin condition, you need to get into the habit of working on your skin every day. If the bumps on your skin are red or pink, you should schedule an appointment with a dermatologist, as they might prescribe a cortisone cream to reduce the inflammation.
Certain supplements, including Vitamin A, C, and E, might help to influence the normal skin cell turnover, which can reduce the symptoms associated with KP. The good news is that the condition doesn’t normally lead to scarring; Accutane is rarely used as a treatment. This is because the risks are outweighed by the benefits, so it’s not a good idea to turn to Accutane to treat KP.
What about the salon or clinical procedures?
In severe cases, laser treatment can be used. Still, it won’t cure the condition, and you will need to go for several treatments to see results. The most effective KP treatments are pulsed dye lasers, which are capable of targeting the red or pink parts of the bumps on your skin. Equally, hair removal lasers are used to remove the hair follicles from the bumps and can also be effective.
Sun exposure and KP
For most people, the arrival of summer brings about an improvement in their condition. Some research has found that this might be due to safe exposure to UV light, in addition to the ambient humidity that naturally contributes to softer and smoother skin.
If you’re hoping to banish strawberry legs once and for all, check out Legology’s Daily Care Maintenance Kit for Legs, as it will help you get into the routine of treating your legs each and every day.Please share and like: