There was a lively discussion going on recently in an online forum that I'm part of. Sharing began to happen around how to get rid of hair bumps also called "chicken skin". As many of us that have to deal with this harmless yet unsightly skin issue chimed in, others joined. Many had no idea it even had a name. They didn't know that there were things that could be done about it. It's official name is Keratosis Pilaris (KP). It is caused when the body creates an excess of Keratin. The excess keratin hardens and closes around hair follicles which stops them from leaving the pore. It occurs on the legs, thighs, butt and outer arms mainly. It sometimes can appear on the face and can be mistaken for acne.
The good news is, it's not harmful to health in any way! The bad news is that it causes people feel not so confident about the appearance of their skin. It affects 50 - 80% of teens and 40 - 50% of adults. Many adults who are affected by it will see it go away in their 30's. I had no idea that the numbers were so high. It typically is inhereted from parents. It's one of the things I got from my father. We are alike in more ways than have anyhting to do with this blog. Perhaps, that's one of the reasons that I never really felt inclined enough to try to get rid of them. It's just yet another a trait that me and my Daddy share :-)
Just last week, I decided that I actually want to try to get rid of them. I went off to the interwebs to do some research. I found many different ways that people used to work on reducing/ridding themselves of the appearance of these little bumps. I decided on a method for myself and began only a few days ago. I took before pictures, so I will share after about two weeks what kind of progress my skin has made. I decided to share the other information that I found with readers here too.
1) Laser Treatment One of the first ways of dealing with it I came across was laser treatments. I had read somewhere that someone dealing with KP had it go away after tanning. I would not recommend tanning for obvious cancer causing health reasons. However, I'm guessing that much in the same way as tanning, laser treatments probably burn the follicles away. No hair follicle, no hair to get encased by skin. This person said that it took about 10 - 12 laser treatments to see the skin smoothing results she wanted. She also did mention that this method was painful. This is also a the pricest way to go. Even though with Groupon and Living Social type deals the price of laser treatments can be reduced, I decided not go this route. I still thought that it was worth mentioning.
2) Organic Virgin Coconut Oil I saw this tip mentioned often. As a child, my mother used coconut oil on my skin, hair and scalp. I have used coconut oil to heal acid reflux caused my a torn esophogus once (I took a teaspoon 3x a day). I did not want to take the drugs the doctors suggested. It worked. Coconut oil naturally has many healing properties (reduces redness, sanitizes) and it's an excellent moisturizer. Keeping the skin moisturized is one of the best things a person with KP can do to stop the skin from hardeninge over the hair follicle. I imagine this is why it worked for these people. I decided not to try this personally because, well, if as a kid it didn't make it go away, I was not willing to put in the time as an adult. However, I have read about many people swearing by this as a solution. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It's organic and inexspensive so I would encourage anyone giving it a try.
3) Castille Soap Many people know of the popular Dr. Bonners brand. It is inexpensive and can be found easliy in many drug stores, health food stores or supermarkets. The soap is made using pure vegetable oils and not animal fat. So in conjunction with a loofah, it can help get rid of those pesky little bumps. I intend to make this method part of my maintenance program.
4) Exfoiliating Scrubs I found so many great recipes online for natural scrubs. A quick google search will yield you many options. The basic ingredients are to use sea salt or course sugar as the scrub factor. Then couple it with natural oils such as virgin olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil. Then add something like a little tea tree oil that is anti-bacterial. Use it in the shower. Then follow up with a non-drying cleanser like Dove soap. Of course, moisturize as soon as you leave the bath.
5) 2% Salicylic Acid Face Wash & Amlactin Lotion Although, I've read that for some people the use of agents such as salicylic acid can make the problem worse if it dries out the skin too much, I still decided to give it a go. My plan is to moisturize well before getting out of the shower to lock in as much moisture as possible. I got a generic brand acne wash from the drug store and then splurged on Amlactin (which I got on sale at Costco for less than what is costs at drug stores. Perhaps deals can be found online as well but I wanted it in hand as fast as possible. It contains 12% lactic acid, is PH balanced for the skin and gently exfoiliates with moisture retention. With a scrubbing cloth or glove, I'll use the face wash on the affected areas 2x a day. Then I will moisturize with Amlactin 2x a day as well.
Clearly this is NOT the most organic or natural method. From what I've read I should start to see results in about two weeks. The risk I am taking is that the face wash may prove to be too drying and worsen the issue. I don't have sensitive skin, so I'm taking that risk. Look back in about 2 weeks for the before and after pictures. I'll gladly accept prayers and well wishes lol...
As you can see, altough there is no "cure" for KP. The keys to reduction are anti-bactarial cleansing, exfoiliating and moisturizing. Let me know what you've tried and had success with in your own KP reduction quests.
ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston. She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education. Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque. She's been published in three anthologies: Pros(e), Prose and Lore & Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chicken Hawks. She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque. Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.