What is keratosis pilaris and how can you get rid of bumpy ‘chicken skin’?

We don’t know about you but we’re keeping our limbs firmly snuggled under layers of knitwear until warmer weather arrives – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still be paying attention to the skin on our bodies.

And if you’ve noticed dry, bumpy skin on your arms and legs, it may be a completely harmless but annoying condition called “keratosis pilaris” (it’s also sometimes known as “KP”, or “chicken skin” because of its freshly-plucked appearance).

Luckily there are steps you can take to improve the look and feel of your skin. Here’s how…

What does keratosis pilaris look like?

Tiny, painless bumps, most commonly occurring on the upper arms and legs. The skin may also feel especially dry, rough or itchy.

What causes keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is caused when hair follicles become blocked with keratin, a substance produced naturally in the skin. Experts aren’t quite sure why this can happen in some people and not others, but it’s thought that it could be hereditary (KP isn’t infectious so you can’t catch it off others). It may appear worse in winter months.

How can I get rid of keratosis pilaris?

Keep skin moisturised and gently exfoliated. Here’s our pick of what products to add to your body care routine…

Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion, available in the Go Love Yourself OK! Beauty Box for just £4.95 here

An excellent product that both moisturises AND exfoliates, and a long-time favourite with celebrities, beauty editors and skincare experts. It contains lactic acid plus hydrating ingredients to gently soften and smooth especially dry or rough skin (it also works wonders on ingrown hairs).

Fancy trying it out for a fraction of its usual price? You’ll get a travel size tube inside the latest Go Your Yourself OK! Beauty Box, along with four other incredible skin and body treats. The box is worth over £120 in total, but new subscribers can get their hands on it for just £4.95 here (subscription cost is £15 a month thereafter).

SKINCITY Skincare Shower Power Peel, £20 here

A multi-tasking formula that uses both chemical and physical exfoliation (glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and cellulose grains) to help keep skin smooth. Use once a week to remove dead skin cells, keep pores clear and buff away rough texture.

No.1 Illume 100% Silk Exfoliating Glove, £15.99 here

Inspired by Turkish hammams, this silk mitten has gone viral on TikTok thanks to its oddly satisfying ability to remove dry skin without any product whatsoever – simply wet with water and rub over limbs.

Cetraben Natural Oatmeal Cream, £8.99 here

This simple, fragrance-free body cream gets top marks from us for its availability to moisturise and soothe even the most irritable of skins.

What else can help with keratosis pilaris?

  • Wash using warm water rather than very hot water to avoid drying out the skin.

  • Use a humidifier in the home to increase your skin’s moisture levels.

  • Don’t scratch your skin, and avoid wearing uncomfortably tight or itchy clothing.

Click here to also see our tried-and-tested pick of the best body creams and shower gels.

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*If your skin ever feels red, inflamed and sore, consult your doctor.

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