We’re talking about those tiny raised patches on your arms that kind of look like goose bumps. The good news: The skin condition known as keratosis pilaris, or KP, “is incredibly common, and benign,” says N.Y.C. dermatologist Rachel Nazarian. The skin creates a buildup of a protein, called keratin, which plugs the hair follicle, she explains. This block in the hair follicle can lead to inflammation and redness, creating that speckled “chicken skin” like appearance on your arms, thighs or butt. While there is no “cure” for KP, there are ways to improve the texture and appearance.
First of all, resist the urge to manually scrub off the bumps. “Rough exfoliation will further inflame the skin, ultimately causing more redness and making the condition worse," says Nazarian. Instead, look for lotions or body washes that contain exfoliating ingredients like glycolic acid or salicylic acid and use them daily. “They help to chemically exfoliate the rough patches,” says San Diego dermatologist Melanie Palm, shedding the dead surface cells. If your skin isn’t sensitive, try applying retinol in the affected areas a couple of times a week. “It can improve skin turnover,” says Palm. And make sure to keep skin moisturized as dryness can cause further irritation and inflammation. Now that you know the basics, check out our favorite products to help smooth the way to a summer of sleeveless tops.