Im getting acne(?) on my arms, whats wrong!
August 8, 2008 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Im getting acne(?) on my arms, whats wrong!

Im 17 years old, and zits on the face aren't a big deal for me. But over the last year or so theyve started spreading out just under my neck, on my shoulders and upper arms (i included a pic to be helpful and more precise :p)

My main question is, what caused this? Im probably looking for a cause like wearing sweaty t shirts or the sort. Could something like that have caused it? Or not enough oxygen to the arms?
I THINK it gets worse in summer but im really not sure.
posted by freddymetz to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Looks like keratosis pelaris.

No cure, only varying degrees of management. Sorry. On the positive side, nearly half the population has it.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:42 AM on August 8, 2008

I get that, too, if I'm not careful about keeping my skin clean. Staying in sweaty shirts would definitely contribute. A few days of astringent and a zit cream (the kind you use on your face is fine to put on your arms) should clear that right up.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:42 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Are you changing your bedding regularly (every week)? If not, that might be a cause.
posted by boomchicka at 11:51 AM on August 8, 2008

Seconding keratosis pilaris. Typically starts during the teen years and never goes away :( Mine gets far worse in the summer too.

Astringents are the wrong way to go - moisturize instead.
posted by chez shoes at 11:54 AM on August 8, 2008

Yes, probably keratosis pilaris. I have it on both of my upper arms and the outer-facing area of my left leg. Nothing has ever really made mine better or worse and I've had it for as long as I can remember (well, at least since I started caring about my appearance). I have a friend who swears by exfoliation and moisturizer, but nothing has really worked for me.

IANAD(ermatologist). I have a friend in med school who has it though, so I'm pretty sure we're not all going to die.
posted by giraffe at 12:02 PM on August 8, 2008

Yep, I get that too. Like giraffe's friend, exfoliation and moisturiser works really well for me. Scrub your arms with a loofah or one of those bath/shower poof things and then when you get out, slather on the curel.
posted by gaspode at 12:16 PM on August 8, 2008

I have keratosis pilaris on the back of my upper arms (including the outside of my shoulders; it's never been diagnosed, but I am pretty sure that's what it is) and the best thing I've found is a pair of those bath gloves you can get at the drug store. They do a much better job at exfoliating than the poofs-on-a-string and even after only 1-2 days of using it to wash my arms in the shower, I notice my skin feels much smoother. I also use a very moisturizing body wash.
posted by inatizzy at 12:33 PM on August 8, 2008

agree with the kp suggestion. try gentle exfoliant in the shower too.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:14 PM on August 8, 2008

(IANAD) If it is keratosis pilaris, you may be helped by lotions containing lactic acid; my 5-year-old son was diagnosed with keratosis and that's what the pediatrician recommended. (I think the lotion I found is called AmLactin -- available OTC, though you may have to ask the pharmacist for it.)
posted by Janta at 1:19 PM on August 8, 2008

I have that, it gets considerably better when I bump up my fish oil consumption. It makes a really huge difference.
posted by 8dot3 at 1:29 PM on August 8, 2008

By the way, you can make a good moisturizing (and cheap!) exfoliant out of olive oil (doesn't have to be extra virgin) and sugar. Just mix to the desired graininess. You could use salt, but beware any tiny cuts or abrasions, because it'll sting like hell.
posted by giraffe at 1:32 PM on August 8, 2008

I was diagnosed with KP, and I have to say mine doesn't resemble your picture much at all. But maybe it's a different presentation, who knows. What's worked for my KP: always wearing clean clothing, changing bedding/pillowcases regularly, using a benzoyl peroxide scrub in the shower, and (although I'm not totally sure why) losing weight. I still have bumps in some areas, but they're no longer reddish, or even really visible at all.
posted by booksandlibretti at 2:06 PM on August 8, 2008

I've also observed an association between weight loss and the resolution of the bumps. Conversely, they return with significant weight gain and remain until I get closer to my normal weight.
posted by pammo at 2:41 PM on August 8, 2008

I also have this (on and off).

Mine gets significantly worse during periods where I take hot showers, baths, or use hot tubs.
posted by bradly at 3:11 PM on August 8, 2008

Yes, it's KP. I have it quite mildly and keep it under control by using exfoliating gloves in the shower (you can buy them cheaply from any drug store, they'll be where you'd find bath products), an anti-bacterial shower gel, and a good body moisturiser, such as the Body Shop Body Butter, or Neutrogena Body Oil.
posted by essexjan at 3:28 PM on August 8, 2008

Response by poster: by the way, is it good or bad to sleep in pyjamas?
posted by freddymetz at 3:34 PM on August 8, 2008

I used to have this. Then I lost some weight and starting eating vegetarian. It completely went away.

I think it was related to a typically over-protein American diet. Once I cut out the excess protein and grease from my diet, my skin stopped producing these.
posted by krisak at 7:14 PM on August 8, 2008

For the record, while I was losing weight -- and, incidentally, KP -- my diet was purposefully unusually high in protein (not Atkins, but about 40% of my calories came from protein). I'm not arguing with krisak, just sharing my own anecdotal evidence.

I would say sleeping in pajamas would be good if you changed them more frequently than sheets, which is almost certain, but bad if they made you sweat. I don't use pajamas, but I don't know if it really makes a difference.
posted by booksandlibretti at 9:51 PM on August 8, 2008

Response by poster: im really not sure if its really KP, because theyre mostly like small whiteheads?
posted by freddymetz at 3:40 AM on August 9, 2008

Yes, freddymetz, that's KP.
posted by essexjan at 5:56 AM on August 9, 2008

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