The Skin Nerd: That dreaded common issue... chicken skin

The Skin Nerd: That dreaded common issue... chicken skin
Keratosis pilaris on the arm of a young caucasian man

THERE is a reason that us Irish folk are so fond of long-sleeved tops and I will go on the record to say it is a little something called keratosis pilaris, something more affectionately known as chicken skin.

Manifesting as small red, pink or flesh-coloured bumps most commonly found on the back of the arms, tops of the thighs and essentially anywhere across the body, it is much more common than you think and notoriously impossible to get rid of for good.

Are you crying out for the cause of this annoying yet harmless skin phenomenon? To simplify it as much as possible, it’s caused by a traffic jam within the pore caused by an abnormal motorway. If your body overproduces keratin, the protein that helps to make up your skin, hair and nails, it can become trapped in the pore rather than moving outwards when your skin naturally sheds off. Because your body is perhaps predisposed to making too much keratin and there’s essentially nothing we can do about that, it’s not a one-time traffic jam. It’s going to keep happening.

Good news: You don’t have to accept keratosis pilaris into your life. Although there isn’t a long-term, one-time-use solution for it, there are definitely modes of continuously reducing how it looks and feels. I can nearly guarantee that you’ve tried to scrub the bejaysus out of your bumpy skin, as if trying to sand it down. Although this may help to improve the texture right there and then, it does essentially nothing bar mildly damage the uppermost layers of the skin.

Glycolic acid is one of the smallest exfoliating acids in terms of molecular weight. Exfoliating acids work on the golf scale — the lower, the better. The low molecular weight of glycolic acid means that it can wiggle much further into the skin, prompting the skin to exfoliate off all by itself. Because of this, high levels of glycolic acid aren’t recommended for very sensitive skins — it’s recommended people with this type of skin opt for larger-moleculed and thus gentler lactic acid or polyhydroxy acid.

I personally like the IMAGE Skincare Body Spa Rejuvenating Body Lotion (€42, theskinnerd.com and selected salons) which contains glycolic acid, peptides and anti- oxidants. You can slather yourself in this beautifully smoothing, exfoliating lotion every evening — so long as you’re applying SPF on any exposed areas too, and avoiding use directly after shaving or waxing — and see the difference when it comes to your chicken skin.

Salicylic acid is also helpful when it comes to keratosis pilaris. Unlike alpha-hydroxy acids like glycolic acid and lactic acid, salicylic acid is oil-soluble. Big whoop, you say. It’s actually a very integral benefit as it means it can penetrate our oily old pores and break down debris and plugs inside them whilst prompting the skin to exfoliate itself at the same time. I’ve been using Skingredients Sally Cleanse (€25, skingredients. com, selected salons, department stores and pharmacies) on the backs of my arms since it launched in June and I find it quite handy as I can do it while showering so I never skip it.

Pairing regular acid exfoliation with keeping your skin hydrated will greatly reduce the appearance of keratosis pilaris, as will hydrating from the inside and having a balanced diet. Although there is no magic food for keratosis pilaris, eating nutrient-rich food ensures your skin is as healthy as it can be.

The Nerdie Pick

Environ A, C & E Body Oil (€50.00, available to Nerd Networkers on theskinnerd.com and from selected salons)

In our nerdie personalised routines, we will usually recommend a body exfoliator best suited for the individual’s skin and pair it with the Environ A, C & E Body Oil. Skin-loving antioxidants vitamins A, C & E work to improve general skin health while the lightweight, nourishing, quick-absorbing oil hydrates the skin. It’s not like all other body oils, the powerful ingredients notably improve the skin’s texture and appearance rather than only moisturising the skin. The results need to be seen to be believed.

The Nerdie Pick: Environ A, C & E Body Oil (€50.00, available to Nerd Networkers on theskinnerd.com and from selected salons) (€50.00, available to Nerd Networkers on theskinnerd.com and from selected salons)

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