Discovering small red bumps on your arms can be quite alarming. Do you have chicken pox? Could it be acne? Is it a rash? Luckily, dots that are typically found on the backs of your arms (often known as 'chicken skin') are generally completely harmless.
This skin condition, known as keratosis pilaris, is pretty common, and occurs frequently in women and young children, and they often appear during puberty or pregnancy. The visible bumps are caused by a keratin buildup, which is the tough protein that protects your skin from infections and harmful substances.
Thanks to this buildup, a scaly plug gets formed, which blocks the hair follicle's opening, causing patches of bumpy skin to develop. Keratosis pilaris may be genetically transferred, or it may actually be a side effect of a number of other skin disorders, and in some cases may also show up on a person's buttocks or legs.
So far, there doesn't seem to be an effective cure for this condition, but there are quite a few ways to manage it. First of all, never directly scrub or scratch the area, since you'll only end up making these bumps a lot worse.
Janellen Smith, a dermatologist at UC Irvine Health recommends that "when you come out of the shower, pat yourself dry—don’t rub or scrub.” Moisturizing is essential, but you should try to avoid fragrant soaps. Look out for specialty creams or lotions that contain lactic acid, hydroxy acid, salicylic acid or urea to help loosen and get rid of dead skin cells.
Creams that contain vitamin A (topical retinoids) are also helpful, as they will promote cell turnover and prevent hair follicles from getting clogged. If over-the-counter remedies don't clear up the problem, you might want to consider paying a visit to a dermatologist. If the condition is really getting you down, then laser treatment might be a viable option, however, most cases of keratosis pilaris are more of a cosmetic nuisance than an actual medical concern.
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