For most people the discovery of tiny, often red bumps on the skin is cause for alarm; no one wants to walk around in summer clothing looking like they have a slew of tiny warts or body acne.
But before you panic and start to pick at every little raised area on your arms and legs, there may be a different explanation–and an easy solution.
SEE ALSO: A natural guide to clear skin
Rough patches and small, acne-like bumps, usually on the arms, thighs, cheeks and buttocks may be a condition known as keratosis pilarsis. The skin issue is harmless–but it ca cause distress because bumps are often white or red in contrast with the skin.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most people will outgrow their keratosis pilarsis issue by the time they are 30; however, there is no guarantee the condition will go away with age. Though painless and concerning only from an aesthetic point of view, keratosis pilarsis can be difficult to treat once the bumps have appeared.
What causes keratosis pilarsis?
Keratosis pilarsis is the result of a buildup of the hard protein keratin at the top of a hair follicle. The plug prevents the hair and oils from escaping, leading to the acne-like bumps people with the condition are accustomed to. While keratosis pilarsis can occur in any hair follicle, it usually happens to multiple follicles, resulting in scaly, bumpy patches of skin.
While no one knows what causes the buildup of keratin, experts do feel the condition is genetic.
“Keratosis pilaris is an inherited skin condition, running strongly in many families, sometimes with a dry skin condition (such as ichthyosis),” states the British Skin Foundation. “The way it is inherited varies from family to family, but it often fits into an autosomal dominant pattern; this means that there will be a 1 in 2 chance that each child of an affected parent will inherit the condition. Keratosis pilaris appears when extra keratin accumulates in the hair follicles.”
Can keratosis pilarsis be cured?
No, keratosis pilarsis cannot be cured. For most people the condition will go away on its own within a matter of days to weeks, but there is one very simple way for those prone to the skin condition to avoid it:
Moisturizing the skin is one of the easiest ways to help prevent keratosis pilarsis. When your skin is properly hydrated the body won’t feel the need to go into over-drive, producing extra oils and secretions in order to moisturize itself. Applying moisturizer also prevents the buildup of dry, dead skin which can increase the rate at which pores clog.
SEE ALSO: Dermatillomania: Skin picking disorder
Similarly, any activity that helps keep the skin moisturized is considered beneficial. This means drinking enough water throughout the day, exfoliating to remove dead skin cells, taking cooler showers to avoid stripping out essential oils, as well as using a humidifier to keep the air from stealing skin’s hydration.