I was first told by Mr. Rusker that I would have to make my final project both professional and personal, and that it should also be about something that I really care about. Until recently, I didn't know what keratosis pilaris was, as I'm sure many of you are wondering what it is as well.
One of my best friends, Kara, has always had little red bumps on her skin, which I've noticed over the years to be worse in the Summer when we 're outdoors and in the heat a lot. For the first few years of our friendship I didn't want to ask her about them, as I knew that it would be rude. I have an Uncle with Psoriasis, so I've always known what that skin condition looks like.
Both of my little sisters have the occasional acne breakout, but I could always tell that Kara's skin was different then that. I thought that it might be eczema or some other skin condition that I had heard of, but didn't really know much about.
A few months ago, Kara casually brought up something by complaining about her skin, and it seemed to me like she was kind of hinting that I could ask about it, so I finally did. She told me what keratosis pilaris is, and that it's been bothering her off and on since she was about thirteen or so. She said that she gets red, itchy small bumps on her skin (that people in the South often call "chicken skin"), and that she can never really tell when they're going to come on again or go away.
As I said above, I knew that they were always worse in Summer, and she agreed and said that both the heat and the increased amount of sweat on her skin caused the breakouts of bumps to happen more often, and be more itchy and uncomfortable.
Then it hit me, if my project should be something that I really care about, it's this skin condition. More specifically, how I had known someone for years, but not known what the skin problem that she had was even called. This brings me to my main point, to raise awareness for people with keratosis pilaris (KP). It's a bit shocking to me that not only do most people not even know what KP is, but that it's estimated that one in four people actually have some form of keratosis pilaris!
The most common places that it's found are on the upper legs and arms, the face, neck and back. In most cases it's quite mild, just little pink or red bumps that sometimes become itchy or irritated. In the average cases of KP, the skin can be much more red and itchy or painful in some cases.
The little bumps are caused by hormones that make to much of a mild substance that clogs up the hair follicles. Because of the overproduction of these body chemicals, the redness on the skin and the pain, irritation and itchiness occur.
The symptoms of keratosis pilaris can worsen due to lots of different things: heat, rises in the body's hormone levels, dry skin, and many others. As Kara taught me, there are ways to keep your skin healthy when you have KP, to at least try avoid future outbreaks of red skin bumps.
Some of the more simple methods of caring for your skin are exfoliation and using a good moisturizer (that's approved for people with KP). Further skin care regimens may include oil pulling, topical medications (either prescribed or over the counter) and changes to your diet, among others.
People who have keratosis pilaris can expect to have more outbreaks, with their KP bumps becoming more red and irritated during periods where the body's hormone levels change dramatically, like puberty and pregnancy. There are also some tests that show a possible link between increased keratosis pilaris outbreaks and high stress levels. Although tghe results of these tests are not yet conclusive (this testing is still in the early stages), trying to limit your stress may be beneficial not only to your KP, but your overall health as well.
It's important to understand exactly what KP is, so that you may help people in your life who have KP, many of whom may not even know it. Keratosis pilaris is quite commonly misdiagnosed as eczema, acne and psoriasis. Being educated on KP may end up helping someone that you care about realize that they need to go to a qualified dermatologist that could properly diagnose their condition.
If you would like to know more about keratosis pilaris, see the following resources for a lot more in depth information. Spreading the word and educating the public about KP could help many people to learn about their skin condition, feel more understood and have many more options for treating their symptoms to improve their overall skin health for life.
http://www.epinions.com/content_970694788?sb=1 - Some useful info on skin disorders, KP in particular.
http://voices.yahoo.com/keratosis-pilaris-overwhelming-skin-condition-555415.html?cat=68 - A personal web page written by someone who's gone through a lot with keratosis pilaris.