Keratosis Pilaris (colloquially known as chicken skin), is a common skin condition that manifests itself in large patches of rough red bumps all over the upper arms, cheeks, and thighs and occasionally the buttocks.  Keratosis Pilaris is caused by a genetic inclination to produce too much keratin, causing hair follicles on the body to be clogged causing tiny bumps and pimples that are actually dead skins plugging the hair follicles.

Useful Facts

  • Keratosis Pilaris affects an estimated 40% of adults and 50-80% of adolescents, and is thought to be hereditary.
  • Keratosis Pilaris isn’t contagious and these bumps don’t usually cause any discomfort or itching.
  • This condition is known to worsen in the winter months when the skin tends to dry out, and may also worsen during pregnancy.
  • Sometimes, the bumps can become infected especially due to excessive scratching, which makes them look like tiny acne.
  • There’s no cure for this harmless, genetic skin condition, however, there are some ways to treat it, or prevent it from getting worse

What causes Keratosis Pilaris?  

This common skin condition is the result of a buildup of keratin — a hair protein — in the pores. If you have chicken skin, the keratin of your body hair gets clogged in the pores, blocking the opening of growing hair follicles. As a result, a small bump forms over where a hair should be. If you were to pick at the bump, you may notice a small body hair emerge.

The exact cause of keratin buildup is unknown, but doctors think it may be associated with other skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and genetic diseases.

What are the symptoms of Keratosis Pilaris?

The most notable symptom of keratosis pilaris is its appearance. The visible bumps appearing on the skin resemble that of goosebumps or the skin of a plucked chicken. For this reason, it’s commonly known as “chicken skin.”

The bumps can appear anywhere on the skin where hair follicles exist, and therefore will never appear on the soles of your feet or palms of your hands. Keratosis pilaris is commonly found on the upper arms and thighs. In excess, it can extend to the forearms and lower legs.

Other symptoms associated with it include:

  • slight pinkness or redness around bumps
  • itchy, irritable skin
  • dry skin
  • a sandpaper-like feeling of bumps
  • bumps that can appear in different colours depending on skin tone (flesh-coloured, white, red, pink, brown, or black)

 What are the types of Keratosis Pilaris? 

There are actually several variations of Keratosis Pilaris, the main three being:

1.    Keratosis Pilaris Rubra – red, inflamed bumps.
2.    Keratosis Pilaris Alba – dry, rough, bumpy skin with no irritation
3.    Keratosis Pilaris Rubra Faceii – red rash on the cheeks.

The bumps themselves are caused by an excess of keratin, a naturally occurring protein, in the body which builds up in the hair follicles. The visible bumps appearing on the skin resemble that of goosebumps or the skin of a plucked chicken. For this reason, it’s commonly known as “chicken skin.”  When combined with dead skin cells, this keratin clogs the follicles and creates tiny raised bumps on the skin.

Can Keratosis Pilaris be cured?  

Unfortunately, like a lot of skin conditions there is no known cure for Keratosis Pilaris, however, there are things that can be done to improve its appearance to help to minimise bumps, itching, and irritation.

What can I do –  now and in the future?

The most important thing to do is exfoliate, which will get rid of the keratin-filled bumps and even out the skin’s surface and moisturise to help soothe the dry skin and improve the skin’s appearance of the bumps.

Five Tips to Soothe Keratosis Pilaris

Though the condition cannot be cured, self-care treatments can help to minimise bumps, itching, and irritation.

  • Exfoliation.  Regular daily exfoliation with a loofah or pumice stone can help to improve the appearance of the skin and can help to soothe the skin and buff away any bumps – don’t try to scratch them off.  However, this step alone will not address the inflammation at the base of the hair follicle, which is why we recommend our antibacterial Body Wash which is infused with Manuka Oil will help to keep the skin free of bacteria and help the skin repair.   You can also add a few drops ( 2-3) of pure Manuka Oil to some sugar to make an antibacterial scrub which will help exfoliate and soothe, itchy, dry skin.
  • Moisturise.   Twice daily moisturising of the skin using Manuka Oil infused Body Lotion. Manuka oil infused skincare is known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  • Warm baths. Taking short, warm baths can help to unclog and loosen pores. Rub your skin with a stiff brush to potentially remove bumps. It’s important to limit your time in the bath, however, because longer wash times can remove the body’s natural oils.
  • No Toxins.  Try to avoid toxic synthetic ingredients commonly found in mainstream scrubs and lotions as these can make the skin dry and cause irritation.
  • Loose Clothing. Avoid wearing tight clothes, or those made with synthetic fabrics that can cause friction that can irritate the skin.


Our Manuka Biotic Recommendations

Thick in texture and rich in emollients, the Manuka Biotic Body Lotion moisturises even the driest of skin, creates an effective barrier, reduces inflammation, and fights bacteria. Organic New Zealand Manuka Oil, known for its amazing healing powers, is combined with organic, tree, nut-free oils to create this gentle, nourishing manuka oil product that will not irritate the skin. Our Manuka Biotic Body Lotion is a surprisingly soft and creamy balm,  that’s excellent for healing open wounds and soothing irritated Keratosis Pilaris skin.

Manuka Biotic® BodyWashContaining Manuka Oil our Body Wash is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and can help reduce the bacteria on the skin and help soothe any inflammation of the skin or infected or clogged follicles.

Why Manuka Biotic®?

  1. We use the worlds only certified organic Manuka oil.
  2. All our products contain potent antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory properties to help soothe and repair the skin.
  3. Our products are 100% New Zealand made.
  4. Our products are made using natural ingredients and are FREE from:
    • Parabens
    • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & SLES
    • PEGs, PABA, EDTA
    • Added fragrances & colouring
    • Petrochemicals
    • Mineral Oils
    • Phenoxyethanol
    • Propylene Glycol
    • Phthalates
    • Animal testing or animal derivatives

Manuka Biotic® is natural skincare for the whole family, giving you access to the potent power of Manuka Oil.

Please read the full ingredient list for any known irritants or allergies. We advise trying new products on a small patch of skin and waiting 24 hours to make sure there is no reaction. Any natural product on the market could contain an ingredient that won’t agree with your skin.


For further information talk to your doctor.

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