Hola mi hombres and chiquitas, Olivia here.
You know, I was looking at myself in the mirror after a refreshing shower and just couldn’t stop admiring my gorgeous bod. I’m always telling my readers to take pride and obey rule number one of healthy living – Love Thyself.
But it wasn’t always this way, believe it or not guys, I didn’t always have smooth, bronzed and flawless skin head to toe. Au contraire mon ami – Just a few years ago, my skin was so bad I actually got a nasty nickname for it – Chicken Skin.
Take it from me, sticks and stones may break your bones – but some goddamn nasty nicknames can also cut deep too man. Yes, you guessed right!
As a teen, I had a condition known as Keratosis Pilaris. You get acne-like dots in the worst places and with my especially pale skin, it looked exactly like freshly de-feathered poultry skin.
Those who dared to get close to me keep on asking if it was contagious. Ugh! I swear, kids can be just as mean as adults with their creative name calling.
I tried for years to get rid of it with no success. In the summer seasons, I would paint makeup on my legs and arms in a bid to cover up my red bumpy skin. But it rarely worked – people still noticed it.
Heck, I even ate beef liver because some studies I read up on said that my skin condition was as a result of vitamin deficiency.
Long story short, I did finally get medical treatment for it. But it took a whole lot longer and was more painful that it really should have. Which got me thinking, essential oils have treated conditions similar to this, could they have treated my chicken skin?
In this piece, I take you through everything you need to know and how to get rid of your chicken skin.
Keratosis Pilaris – What Is It?
Image sourced from (wikimedia.org)
You might find some relief in knowing that this is a relatively common skin disorder. Probably it’s just me, but I do feel some sense of comfort and suffer less anxiety and fear when I realized I’m not the only person going through a particular problem. If you are honest enough, you’ll probably confess it too.
Anyway, Keratosis Pilaris (KP), affects both the young and old. It does, however, seem to love kids and teens. The condition is benign and is characterized by many small, red, rough and tan bumps on the skin.
They usually appear around the hair follicles on the legs, buttocks and upper arm. These bumps resemble goosebumps and cause one to have what people love to call chicken skin. If you’ve ever plucked the feathers of a chicken, you know why they call it so.
Medically, the condition is harmless. But who cares, it is unsightly and can cause a child/teen to lose his/her self-esteem. This is in itself; reason enough to want to get rid of it.
Luckily, the condition rarely affects the entire body. The red bumps mostly appear on the backside of upper arms, the thighs, buttocks, back and rarely on the face. It doesn’t affect the sole, palm, mouth or eyes.
Symptoms Of Keratosis Pilaris
The thing with this skin condition is that the symptoms tend to appear and disappear as they please. This means that the KP symptoms may appear with no warning and go away in the same way.
That said, below are some signs you should be on the lookout for.
- Small painless bumps: these bumps are by far the most common KP symptom. As a matter of fact, the two are almost synonymous. These bumps cause no pain and are very small (nearly the size of a sand grain). The bumps also appear in varying colors including pink, red, white and tan.
- Rough skin: most people suffering from keratosis pilaris also experience this. The rough texture is as a result of scaly plugs present in hair follicles. These are formed as a result of keratin buildup. A tiny hair trapped in the follicle may also result in the said roughness.
- Dry skin: this symptom is noticeable (to the individual and not the public) during winter. This is because, during this season, the air is less moist.
- Skin redness: this usually occurs when the condition causes capillaries under the skin to dilate. It also may be as a result of inflammation.
- Itchiness: this is as a result of dry skin. Itchiness usually goes hand in hand with inflammation.
These warning signs will appear in the body parts that I mentioned earlier. With age, the symptoms may show a sign of improvement even without treatment.
But for others, the condition and its symptoms may only get worse. If they do, get proactive in getting rid of it.
Lastly, it is important to note that keratosis pilaris isn’t the same as acne, psoriasis or eczema.
What Causes Keratosis Pilaris?
Image sourced from (wikimedia.org)
Despite the fact that keratosis pilaris is a common skin disorder, very little is known about its source. Health experts and researchers, however, have come to the conclusion that the production of defective keratin by the skin is the primary suspect behind the development of this condition.
This is because most of those afflicted have keratinous plugs in the follicle openings. This results in small and red bumps on the skin.
But while the health experts and researchers got a breakthrough in determining the immediate cause of the disease, very little progress have been made with regards to the cause of the production of defective keratin.
Further studies conducted reveal that some risk factors predispose individuals to develop this skin condition.
Risk Factors For The Development Of Keratosis Pilaris
- Genetics: A study conducted and published in the British Journal of Dermatology, reveals that out of 49 keratosis pilaris patients, 39% of them had family members who suffer from the same. About 55% of these patients didn’t have a family history with keratosis pilaris.
But despite the percentage of those who have the condition in their family being lower than of those who don’t, the numbers are still sufficient to support this theory – keratosis pilaris can be hereditary.
An individual who has a parent suffering from the condition has a high chance of developing it as well. Going with this research, I guess then I was unlucky. My parents (to the best of my knowledge) didn’t suffer from this condition.
- Pre-existing skin issues: Unfortunately, keratosis pilaris is linked to numerous skin conditions. These skin conditions include xerosis, eczema and ichthyosis vulgaris.
So if you have any of these, things may just get worse as you are at a higher risk of developing this keratosis pilaris. I agree this is not fair, especially for any child or adolescent but such is life. You’ll have to learn to make lemonade out of bitter lemons early in life.
- Overweight: If you have excessive body weight, researchers say that it may put you at a higher risk of developing keratosis pilaris.
In a study conducted with 109 patients who were mostly obese and overweight, about 42% were discovered to suffer from keratosis pilaris. Other studies also reveal a connection between having a high BMI and the development of this condition.
Additionally, statistics reveal that gender and age affect one’s susceptibility to the condition. Keratosis pilaris usually develops in the first decade of one’s life, and females are more susceptible to the condition than males.
Kids who develop it earlier in life may have the luck of having it disappear when they are around 16 years. But this is not a guarantee. In some cases, the condition persists even when one crosses over into adulthood.
How Is Keratosis Pilaris Diagnosed?
As your doctor is trying to diagnose your skin disorder, he/she may ask questions to determine if you’re suffering from other conditions like ichthyosis and eczema. As mentioned earlier, individuals with these skin conditions are predisposed to keratosis pilaris.
Additionally, your doctor may ask about your family and their medical history, especially that which pertains to skin disorders. This is because genetics plays a huge role in developing this condition.
If yours is a mild case of keratosis pilaris, a clinical exam may do the trick. If it is severe, a skin biopsy may be in order. The procedure often involves acquiring a skin tissue sample and examining it further under a powerful microscope. This help to determine the exact skin condition you have.
Keratosis Pilaris Prevention And Treatment
Since we now know that there isn’t a specific cause for this skin condition, it also means that there isn’t a surefire way of preventing the condition. What makes its prevention even harder is the fact that there are so many factors that put individuals at a higher risk of contracting keratosis pilaris.
All this talk of uncertainties is probably making you lose hope, huh? But do not yet. I started by saying that I found a solution to this. And I will provide you with some that worked for me.
However, it is not a walk in the park. To get back your fair skin, you’ll need to pay the price. By this, I don’t mean forking out thousands of dollars. Instead, you need to be committed to a treatment and maintenance plan including dietary and lifestyle changes.
And believe me, these are always the hardest to see through to the end. But with a goal in mind, you should have enough motivation to get to rid yourself of the embarrassment and name calling.
A) What to Avoid When Suffering From Keratosis Pilaris
Knowledge is power. Knowing the factors that cause your symptoms is probably the best way to gain control over the skin condition. Below are some habits that will help you improve your skin’s appearance.
- Scrubbing your skin using exfoliators: Rubbing rough exfoliators on normal skin will help to improve the texture and health of that skin. However, for skin with keratosis pilaris, rubbing rough exfoliators will not have the same effect – your skin condition won’t go away.
If anything, it will get worse as the roughness, and resulting friction will damage the skin. To exfoliate your skin without worsening your condition, it is best that you take a gentle and natural route. You can create an exfoliating scrub using natural ingredients including oatmeal and sugar and some organic oils or use this exfoliator.
- Using gentle cleansers and mild soaps: Some soaps and body cleansers have harsh chemicals. This may cause the skin to dry ultimately worsening the condition. You should always steer clear of harsh products and stick to those you know are mild. You can check out the cleanser and soap that I use.
- Taking a shower using hot water: Hot water baths are soothing. However, they are thieves. Yes, the hot water will rob your skin of natural oils. You might have noticed that after a hot shower the skin is dry right?
To help prevent this from happening, and if you cannot endure a cold shower, use warm water.
B) Things to Do To Get Achieve A Bump-Free Skin
And now I get into the lifestyle changes that I spoke about.
- Moisturize the skin: Dry skin will only worsen your condition. Dry skin will result in a scaly and rough skin appearance. You should moisturize your skin several times on a daily basis. Whenever you feel itchy, reach out for your moisturizer. Some natural moisturizers include calendula oil, coconut oil, aloe vera and olive oil.
- Invest in a humidifier: humidifiers are particularly useful during winter and in dry climates. During these times, the skin is bound to get dry fast. A humidifier will help to keep your skin moisturized by injecting moisture into the air.
Word of advice – when using a humidifier/diffuser, you shouldn’t get overzealous and set the humidity levels too high. High humidity levels might result in mold growth and eventually cause breathing problems.
Keep the humidity levels at the recommended setting. Also, it is essential that you clean the diffuser regularly and replace the water on a daily basis. You can also clean it once a fortnight with hydrogen peroxide. This chemical will help remove mineral deposits especially if you pour hard water into the humidifier.
- Be gentle: being gentle on your skin will help you alleviate some of the problems or at the very least, prevent the symptoms from getting worse. Avoid scratching the skin vigorously as this will irritate it. Also, don’t wear tight clothing as this will create some friction which will cause damage to your skin.
Do not take too long in the shower: this hit me hard. Believe it or not, it was the hardest thing to do. I do love taking long showers. However, I realized the numerous long showers I took stripped my skin of natural oils. Strive hard to reduce the shower time to 10 minutes or less.
- Mind your diet: Foods ingested have a significant effect on your skin’s condition. Change your diet and include foods rich in vitamin E, omega 3, vitamin D, vitamin A, and zinc. These minerals will help you improve your skin’s health.
With all that said, you should have it at the back of your mind that people have different skins. Some of the recommendations will work for you and others won’t. Identifying what works for you may take some bit of trial and error. Talk with your physician and see which methods will work for you.
Can Essential Oils Help With Keratosis Pilaris
And finally, we get to the heart of the article. As you try and understand which of the above recommendations work for you, I can assure you that these oils will ease your symptoms.
Essential oils can help your keratosis pilaris by:
- Softening the sin
- Relieving itchiness
- Reducing redness
- Reducing inflammation
- Killing germs and microbes that aggravate the skin
Here are some of the top essential oils you can try out
1. Tea Tree
This is by far one of the most popular and common essential oils available. It is used in the skincare and cosmetic industry to help with all kinds of skin disorders / problems.
It is known to be very effective against viruses and bacteria including Candida, Staphylococcus Aureus, and P. Acnes. It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties which help with the skin bumps.
This is yet another favorite essential oil that has been used in skincare products for decades. I love it as it is gentle on the skin. In addition to this, it has excellent analgesic and anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.
For keratosis pilaris, it can also help to rejuvenate the skin cells and form a protective barrier.
Frankincense is from the French word ‘Franc’ meaning ‘luxuriant’ or it could be ‘quality incense’. The oil has been around for eons. It is derived from a tree indigenous to Somalia.
Frankincense has numerous compounds that provide it with potent anti-inflammatory properties. It can be inhaled or once diluted rubbed directly on the skin.
I was ecstatic to learn that this was the oil Egyptians used to get their flawless skins. Yes, I have watched a lot of movies set in ancient Egypt and read books. The one thing they both depict without contradiction is the Egyptians’ radiant skin.
In addition to this, geranium is also a safe anti-inflammatory extract used to reduce inflammation, treat acne, keratosis pilaris, and balance hormones. It has a sweet smell and will without a doubt will uplift your spirits.
The one thing that makes this oil perfect for treating keratosis pilaris is its antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
A study conducted in 2017 proved that lemongrass can treat inflammatory skin conditions. It also does wonders in soothing the skin. Surprisingly, the oil also keeps the digestive system functioning correctly.
Essential Oil Blends For Keratosis Pilaris
1. KP Roll-On Blend
What you need:
- Tea Tree oil – 9 drops
- Frankincense oil – 5 drops
- Lavender oil – 7 drops
- Fractionated Coconut oil
- Roll-on bottle – 10 ml
This is an efficient method of ensuring the blend gets under the skin and works its magic. I love the fact that it makes use of a roll-on bottle. It is easy and convenient to use. With a roll-on bottle, you do not risk being too aggressive on the affected areas. And even if you try, the ball will only glide over causing no harm.
The recipe for this blend is simple and straightforward. Add all the essential oils into the roll-on bottle drop by drop (make sure you count). Top the mixture with the fractionated coconut oil. Roll the blend onto your skin once or twice on a daily basis after taking a shower.
2. Lavender Sugar Scrub
What You Need:
- Coconut oil – 1/2 cup
- Cane sugar – 1/2 cup
- Lavender oil – 25 drops
- Glass Jar – 8 oz
Think about this for a moment – the lavender translated to Latin is ‘Lavare’ which means ‘to wash.’ What more would one need to take care of this skin condition? Coupled with the disinfecting properties and a pleasant smell, this is one blend you will love using.
To make up this blend, add all the ingredients into a glass jar and mix. You will end up with a mixture with a consistent gritty texture, i.e. like a scrub. Use the scrub at least three time a week whilst in the shower. This will make your skin smooth and silky.
3. Skin Smoothing and Soothing Lotion
What you need:
- Lemongrass oil – 5 drops
- Lavender oil – 8 drops
- Roman chamomile oil – 6 drops
- Coconut oil – ½ cup
- Glass Jar – 4 oz
The worst thing you can do for your keratosis pilaris is using chemicals to try and ease the symptoms. I experimented with numerous artificial substances and regretted it. Well, probably there are good ones out there, I just didn’t come across them.
The fact that the causes of this skin condition are not well understood makes me lose faith in the widely promoted chemicals. I would rather natural products that naturally clean and disinfect. Some of my best are lavender and lemongrass essential oil.
To prepare the blend, mix the ingredients to create a lotion (it should be creamy). Store the lotion in a cool and dry place. During summer, you should store it in your refrigerator. When you need to use it, scoop a small amount and rub it on the skin gently. Do this after your shower.
4. Powerful Serum Blend
What you need:
- Tea tree oil – 10 drops
- Frankincense oil – 8 drops
- Lavender oil – 5 drops
- Lemon oil – 7 drops
- Lemongrass oil – 5 drops
- Argan oil – 2 oz
- Glass dropper bottle – 4 oz
If you have tried everything else and you have not achieved the results you wanted, this blend will do you justice. The mixture contains potent essential oils only. It is an understatement to say that it will perform wonders.
Mix the ingredients in the glass dropper bottle. Sparingly apply the blend on the KP every morning and night after your shower.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar Toner
What you need:
- Distilled water – 1 tablespoon
- Apple cider vinegar – 1 tablespoon
- Tea Tree oil – 2 drops
- Lavender oil – 2 drops
- Spray bottle – 2 oz
Cosmetic toners are designed to cleanse and wash the skin. They shrink the pores and improve the texture of the skin. Without a doubt, a toning blend will help you get a smooth appearance. What’s more, the distilled water will help carry out the cleansing perfectly.
Add the ingredients in the bottle and shake. Spray the blend onto the skin 2-3 times on a daily basis. Leave the mixture on your skin for 15 minutes before rinsing.
6. Moisturizing Lotion
What you need:
- Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
- Lavender oil – 8 drops
- Hemp oil – 2 tablespoons
Throughout this piece, I have been stressing the need to moisturize the skin. It is the best way to keep the symptoms from flaring up. When you get home from work and take a shower, the first thing you should do is apply this blend on your skin. In the morning, do the same as well.
The blend should be stored in a glass bottle. It is best if you use a roll-on bottle. Always shake the mixture well before using it.
The Bottom Line
There is nothing better to nourish your damaged skin than with natural products. They hydrate, protect and repair damage over time without side effects. Essential oils will work wonders and introduce healthy elements that your skin badly need to rejuvenate.
But please note, you should exercise caution when using essential oils. Be sure to add just the right amounts. The oils are potent and abusing them may result in irritating your skin further. Especially if you’re using them on kids and teens. The last thing you want is for them to be called both chicken skin and leopard spots…