First off, I’m not a medical professional of any sort. I just have some common sense, some experimentation and a eureka moment or two. This one has to do with the upper arms and usually the backs of arms. You might be a person who gets this skin condition, which doesn’t itch usually and is mostly unsightly or makes the skin bumpy.
The skin will sometimes be pinkish or red, or even just normal color but there will be tiny bumps over the back of the arms. It’s called Keratosis Pilaris and seems to be a genetic thing, with about 40% of adults having this skin condition. Commonly called chicken skin, it can affects the back, legs or buttocks as well. I believe these are pores that have become blocked with sebum, oils or other bits of detritus. A quick google search confirms this. They’re somewhat pimple like and might not swell at all. For other people they may become inflamed as with other pimples but there’s not much you can do about them, so “they” say.
I have had this chicken skin in the past. I don’t like the feel or look of it but I find I can control it. What I do is different that what’s recommended. Overall, medical sites and doctors recommend soaps that are non-drying . And actually soap is rarely needed unless you’re on a job that gets you dirty all over.Years ago a dermatologist told me that soap was really only needed on the torso, and say, the face, feet and hands, but our legs and arms don’t get that dirty and tend to secrete less oil than other areas. So if soap is used it should be used sparingly and anyone who is sensitive should forego it. A good rinse with water will work in most instances.
There is a theory that there could be an underlying bacteria that causes the bumps as well and scrubbing the surface will only inflame, not remove the bumps. Some doctors recommend salicylic acid which comes from willow and is a common exfoliant. This can help open up the clogged pores. Although they don’t recommend scrubbing I have taken a soft nail brush and used it with a bit of soap on my arms and this tends to work for me. But I think I must have a mild condition that has never been severe. Then again, my exfoliating might have worked. I don’t scrub daily but maybe once a week or every two weeks. This seems to keep it in check. But since people do have different severities of skin disorders, it would be best to test one patch of skin and see if it improves or worsens against the other areas.
Some lotions may work while others might contribute to the clogging and this would take more research. I don’t use scented lotions but ones geared to add extra moisture (due to having eczema and rosacea) and with all these tricks, I can keep most of it under control.
Keratosis Pilaris doesn’t inhibit my day to day living and if it was around permanently I would live with it but not suffer much. Still, I find that my skin on my arms is relatively smooth, except for when the eczema hits, which is always worse in winter. And since both rosacea and eczema can be passed on genetically, having a touch of Keratosis Pilaris seems to be just another in the realm of skin conditions. The skin is, after all, the largest organ of the body.