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What is keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris, colloquially known as chicken skin, is a common skin condition characterised by rough, slightly raised patches on the surface of the skin. These patches of skin can be red or flesh-coloured and often have a sandpaper-like texture. Most people with chafed skin have it on their upper arms, thighs or buttocks, but it can also occur on other parts of the body.

What is keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a form of follicular keratosis in which dead skin cells accumulate around the hair follicles and cause a blockage. This leads to a thickening of the skin and an uneven texture. Friction skin is a harmless condition and does not usually cause pain or discomfort. However, it can be perceived as a cosmetic problem as the skin looks uneven and rough.

Medical significance

Keratosis pilaris is a benign skin condition that does not usually cause medical complications. It often occurs in people with dry skin or a predisposition to sensitive skin. Although the exact cause of chafed skin is not known, it is thought that a combination of genetic factors, dry skin and an overproduction of keratin, a protein found in hair follicles, may contribute.

What can you do about it?

Although there is no cure for keratosis pilaris, there are several measures that can help improve its appearance:

  1. Moisturising skin care: Regular application of moisturising skin care can help to hydrate the skin and improve the appearance of chafed skin.
  2. Gentle exfoliation: Gentle exfoliation can help remove dead skin cells and make the skin smoother. Use mild exfoliants or exfoliating gloves and avoid harsh or abrasive products that can irritate the skin.
  3. Avoid irritants: Avoid contact with strong chemicals or irritants as they can further irritate the skin. Choose mild, hypoallergenic products for your skin care.
  4. Moisturising baths: Soaking in lukewarm water can help to moisturise the skin and improve texture. Add a few drops of a moisturising oil to the bath water for extra nourishment.
  5. Consult a dermatologist: If the chafed skin does not improve despite regular care or you feel uncomfortable about the appearance of your skin, you should consult a dermatologist. He or she can recommend other treatment options, such as topical creams or lotions that can help improve skin smoothness.


Keratosis pilaris is a common and usually harmless skin condition characterised by rough, slightly raised patches of skin. Although there is no cure, regular skin care, moisturising treatments and gentle exfoliation can help improve the appearance of the skin. If you are concerned about your skin conditions or have further questions, it is advisable to see a dermatologist who can give you individualised recommendations.

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