Chicken Skin (Keratosis Pilaris): Why You Just Can't Get Rid of It

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An estimated 40- 50 percent of women have Keratosis Pilaris (KP), affectionately known as Chicken Skin. I was unfamiliar with the term until yesterday when I read an article that mentioned the ailment. It makes perfect sense when I think about it, or when I look at my arms—rough, bumpy patches of skin that do, in fact, resemble that of a chicken.

I have always noticed people with KP on their arms and noticed it on my own, but I never knew what it was called, what caused it, or how common it really is. KP occurs when excess keratin (a protein that makes up hair, skin, and nails) accumulates in hair follicles on the body. It can be found most commonly on the arms and thighs but can also occur on the back, torso, buttocks, and in some cases, the face.

KP is an inherited skin condition (sorry, if you have it, you're probably stuck with it). If a parent is affected there is a 1 in 2 chance that the offspring will also be affected. It is more prevalent in childhood and dissipates with age but it is not uncommon for adults to show symptoms. KP causes the skin to become dry and sometimes itchy and is usually worse in the winter because skin becomes much drier in the winter months. KP cannot be transmitted from one person to another by touch; it is not contagious or infectious. The bumps associated with KP are spiky, rough, and can look like goose bumps that do not go away.

Although there is no cure for KP, many dermatologists believe that keeping skin moisturized will help. Of course, there are a lot of products on the market that claim to help reduce the appearance of Chicken Skin. Skin creams or ointments containing lactic acid or salicylic acid, which are readily available at drugstores, have been shown to have better results than those containing no acids.

The bottom line: if you are looking to improve the appearance of your KP, there is no need to buy expensive moisturizing creams from department or specialty stores. Find a cheaper moisturizer at a drugstore (Wal Mart, Target, CVS, etc…) that contains salicylic or lactic acid and use it to keep the skin affected by KP moisturized.

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EmpowHER Guest

I have experienced this since I was a child. I've searched things about this as deep as I could to find the effective method. Well I have found some ways on the internet but some worked, and some don't. Until I have found some natural ways to effectively stop KP. Natural ways = Less cost! And you dont have to spend a fortune to pay for the dermatologist which is only temporary. I have carefully handpicked some methods that works for me and I hope it will work for you too!

July 12, 2015 - 8:25pm
EmpowHER Guest

I had keratosis pilaris for about 20 years and it finally improved when I started taking a cod liver supplement. I think it's the combination of Vit. D (which is why sun works for some people) and Vit. A (which can also be useful externally, either in the form of a retinol-based cream or by using something like shea butter where it is naturally occurring)*. I tried a number of moisturizers and creams and have found that the only thing that has really worked is the Vit.A/D combo in cod liver oil.

* Do note that both vitamins are oil soluble and you can take too much; follow suggested dosage. If you use Vit. A/ retinol on the skin, it breaks down with sunlight and might be better taken at night.

March 4, 2015 - 2:39pm
EmpowHER Guest

I had this when I was younger but for the most part, I don't anymore. I have some on my legs (back of calves) but the rest is gone. What works for me is exfoliating (like, daily) with an exfoliation mitt, shaving regularly (sloughs off dead skin), and moisturizing. Another thing that makes a big difference for me is using a cream-based shower gel, not a clear one. Clear shower gels make my chicken skin worse and more dry, the creamy ones seem to moisturize it and keep it happy. If it's really bad, you can buy 12% AHA cream at the drug store (for your face) and just apply it on the chicken skin areas every few nights. It helped mine a lot. I finally got it to the point where it's basically gone. Tanning or using a self tanner also helps to hide it, if you can't get it to go away entirely.

February 28, 2015 - 2:17pm
EmpowHER Guest

I am a life-long keratosis pilaris sufferer, and have constantly been trying to find something that works. I've been to the dermatologist many times for help and have been prescribed a variety of medicines without success. Needless to say I've been more than frustrated and had just about given up looking for help.
Then I stumbled upon this natural remedy ( ) and thought I'd give it one last try. only a few days later I was seeing results! My skin is finally clear! This is the only treatment I've ever used that has helped.

February 13, 2015 - 6:38am
EmpowHER Guest

I'm a male and I believe I have this. Is it possible for males to get this? I've only seen females on these article. Mine looks exactly like some of these pictures. It's located On my triceps(back of my arms). It doesn't itch at all but it feels rougher than the rest of my skin. I'm 18 and I've had it for about 3 or 4 years I think. Maybe longer. I heard cocoa butter helps it to clear.

January 19, 2015 - 11:44am
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon!

Yes, males get it too. It's genetic and you were probably born with it. It doesn't appear on some people for years. I think I was in my 20s when my showed and it has gotten worse with age when supposedly it's supposed to clear with age!

Try lactic acid - a product called LacLotion, I think it's over the counter and it's not too expensive - about $18 and lasts a few months. It won't cure KP but it will help ease the symptoms. 


January 19, 2015 - 4:03pm
EmpowHER Guest

I've tried so many ways to treat my keratosis pilaris. I have them on my arms and all over my legs. I hate it so much. I wear jeans in the summer because I want to cover them. The sight disgusts me. I wish I could wear dresses and shorts like all the other girls in my school and not have to worry about a thing. I just stare at girls legd and wish I had normal skin like theirs.

July 8, 2014 - 3:11pm
EmpowHER Guest

Keratosis pilaris is not a dangerous or malignant medical condition, therefore, treatment is not necessary, but many seek it due to cosmetic reasons. Creams and lotions are the most common treatments, although many prefer to take pills that promote healthy skin as well, such as biotin. The creams and lotions can have a variety of ingredients, including general acne prevention ingredients such as salicylic acid as well as moisturizers such as Vitamin D and E. Steroid creams can be used to reduce redness. Remedies such as using coconut oils to treat keratosis pilaris is one of the options available for ones that looks for a cheaper way to get rid the skin condition.

July 5, 2014 - 7:31am
EmpowHER Guest

I started noticing my KP around 15 (I'm 20 now) and since then have always been self conscious about them. My mom said that she used to have them, and now her upper arms are completely smooth and dot-less. If hers faded with age, will mine get better also as I get older?

September 4, 2013 - 11:07am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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