Thursday, October 6, 2011

Keratosis Pilaris -Red Patchy Skin and Bumps On Arms

Wouldn't You Know It!

Every time I mull over what to write about, all I have to look to it seems, is things I have faced in my own life. The longer I am on this planet, the more things I have dealt with.

My doctor used to say to me, "Katie, you are certainly not a hypochondriac, but when you get something, you really get it." I have had a few health scares over the years, suffering a blood clot in the lung, bouts of vertigo for no apparent reason, and even contracted the Parvo virus, if you can believe it....what human gets a disease prevalent in canines? But then again, it is me.....sometimes I boggle the minds of the medical community.....but that is another story.

Ever wonder what a reddish, bumpy area on your arms has been all this time?

I have also for many years had this odd discoloration on my upper arms, which included reddish bumps with tiny whiteheads, and I thought it was a form of acne. I would also get a few of these on my back. They never seemed to itch and they never hurt like acne, but the red bumps would get crusty and were particularly worse in the winter time. Well, I decided to find out what I had.....

What is Keratosis Pilaris?

Well this is a chronic condition all right, but it is only a problem for people that dislike the patchy redness and little bumps. Their increasing in frequency, singled winter time for me. I rarely suffered from the discoloration or bumps during summer months. But as we transitioned into colder weather, the bumps became more prevalent.

Keratosis Pilaris which causes acne-like bumps (resembling goose bumps) is caused from a build up of keratin, a natural protein in the skin.

Although this painless condition may remain for years, it gradually improves before age 30 in most cases....but of course not for me. Treatment of keratosis pilaris is not medically necessary; but, individuals with this condition may want to seek treatment for cosmetic reasons. Personally, I just didn't care that much about something that was confined to my arms. However, it can also be found on the face, chest, back and buttocks, and for some this could be quite disconcerting.

The initial treatment of keratosis pilaris should be intensive moisturizing. An excellent skin cream can be applied after bathing, and then re-applied several times a day. Other treatments may include good Alpha-hydroxy acids, such as Glycolic or Salicylic and they could be applied twice daily if so inclined.

Efforts to unplug pores by taking long, hot soaking tub baths and then rubbing and exfoliating the areas with a coarse washcloth, microfiber towel, or loofah sponge will work wonders. For the hard to reach spots, like on the back, loofahs are also attached to handles for getting the back scrubbed in the shower.

The Good And The Bad News

The good news is, it isn't contagious....but the bad news is, it can be spread through to your offspring....yep, that's right, it is hereditary. My mother had it, I had it, and now my daughter also has it.

More good news than bad. It is easily controlled through a major skincare regimen and tends to only be a real problem in the basically, we are all covered up anyway, so no one is the wiser to the condition. When warmer weather prevails, short sleeves are back in, and higher humidity and sunshine are all great remedies for keratosis pilaris improving.

Now for even better seems as I travel through menopause, this condition is all but gone. I would normally have the bumps showing up by now as we change into the cooler weather and forced air is running full time. So chalk up another benefit of going through the far so good.

So if you have been wondering what those tiny pimple like bumps and patchy red skin are on the areas of the body described, don't worry about them. As long as they are not painful and don't itch, then you are more than likely dealing with keratosis pilaris, and not some other condition such as rosacea, psoriasis or eczema....all completely different and more invasive than a simple problem of over growth of keratin in the skin.

Get to scrubbin' and moisturizing and you can avoid the pimply bumps altogether, having smoother, softer skin. However, the red patchiness may remain until you are outside during warmer weather once again....regardless, it is a malady easily controlled with a bit of effort on your part.


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  1. Thank you for posting this Katherine! I have these bumps! I never knew what caused them. My mother-in-law would get concerned about seeing these bumps on my daughters, and I would tell her that I didn't know what they were, but that I've had them for as long as I can remember. And now I know. I've never been bothered by them much either, but now I know that intense moisturizing can help. Thanks!

  2. You're welcome Kayla. Also, don't forget to exfoliate in the shower, this can break loose the little crusty heads and then always moisturize right out of the shower. And like me, you too passed them on to your daughters. At least now you'll no longer worry about them and I am glad the article helped you figure it out. Cheers!

  3. I have these bumps and redness too, though I seem to have it pretty bad on my arms, my personal guess is because I'm still young (18). I'm SO glad it's nothing serious, deffinitly going to have to try moisturizing!
    Thank you so much! And i also had a feeling it was hereditary because my mum commented that she didn't have it as bad as me (haha thanks mum, you're so kind! ).

    1. KDB, Glad you found the article helpful. It will hopefully get better as you age. Mine actually didn't seem to begin to disappear until I began peri-menopause. Time will tell though. And yes really keep you skin moisturized well. Cheers.

  4. I have been searching for answers to this for years and years! I also had it really bad on my thighs from my knees to my hips, it's pretty much gone on my legs but not on my arms and I get the red patches on my lower jaw line but no bumps. Caused very high self confidence issues when I was a teenager (now almost 23) especially on my legs as I never wore shorts. No Dr would ever give me answers and I absolutely hated it. I don't notice my arms as much because I can't see it. Thank you for some answers that no one else would give me :)

  5. I don't think I have KP, but It could be. The spots I have are more likely to be in my skin. My skin doesn't feel bumpy at all, it's smooth, even without using any products for mosturizing my skin. Can somebody explain what else it could be? Cause it also seems to go away when I'm in the sun or taking a hot shower and then it would be gone for like 30 minutes. After about 30 minutes, it starts to come back, little by little. Winters are the worst, it'll show up even worse and the spots showing red more then ever.

    1. From your description it sounds like KP to me since my arms did the same thing until I got into my 40's and then it went away altogether. And with winter being at its worst, then this would be indicative of KP. To be sure of course you can ask your doctor.

  6. I have these! Thank you for this post. I find it VERY concerning that my dermatologist never could tell me what it was... I guess us red bump gals are stuck with it :/

    1. You're welcome Danielle. Glad you have it figured out. Perhaps finding a new dermatologist is in order. But at least now you can settle with it knowing that you're okay and just have a little bit of KP. Welcome to the club!