Keratosis Pilaris Isn't As Bad As It Sounds, But That Doesn't Mean I Have To Tolerate It

Use these tips to clear it up, or don't, so you have a medical-sounding excuse for getting out of things you don't feel like doing.
Publish date:
February 28, 2013
exfoliation, body lotions, body scrubs, body creams, AmLactin, keratosis pilaris, kp, DERMAdoctor

Here’s a story you’ve probably never heard anybody tell: I was teased as a child for my appearance.

I’m not joking around. I was hard to look at. And not the kind of unattractive that most people claiming to be ugly ducklings are talking about. Most people were just cute if a little awkward children wearing dorky decade-specific gear, not gruesome goblin children like I was.

I was so acidic to eyeballs that you’re not even going to get a photo. In its stead, just imagine the smushy offspring of the busted Hanson and a sloth.

Plus, I had chronic bronchitis and was constantly coughing up yellowish-green mucus. So, yah, I was actually a monster.

I got semi-hot in sixth grade after my braces came off and, seriously, every boy wanted to be my pretend boyfriend. As in, we were “going out,” but didn’t actually interact ever because we were 11.

Thank god for Zach, Austin, Luke, and Tony, my neighborhood homies that remembered all too well what I looked like a few months earlier. They saw my newfound fame, my happiness, my new friends, my new boyfriends. They sneered from across the playground, “Oh, she thinks she’s better than us? We’ll cut her down a few notches.”

Back in class was when they pounced. Zach enthusiastically pointed out that "Annie has zits on the back of her arms! OH MY GOD, THAT’S SO GROSS.”

Elementary school children, as you know, are like packs of wild monkeys. No, not the adorable ones that jump on the bed and fall off and suffer horrifying concussions; I’m talking about the disgusting, worm-infested feral rhesus monkeys that steal your change and flaunt their b-holes while screaming in an alarmingly high-pitched shriek directly in your terrified face.

That’s the most accurate way to describe the scene that ensued after Zach made the initial observation. And then my friend Brooke, dear Saint Brooke, came to my defense, “They’re not zits. My brother has the same thing and it’s called… something. It’s not a big deal.”

Brooke’s older brother was a high school kid with long hair, and WAY cool. Her conclusion, along with her brother’s age and awesome hair, had snuffed the assault on my pride.

But alas, from thence on, I was at least aware that the skin on the backs of my arms was a little rough. (It wasn’t even that bad, you guys. Zach was just a jerk.)

So, it took me, like, nine years, but I finally asked my dermatologist about it while sitting in her office for something totally different. You know when they’re like, “Do you have any other questions?” Whenever this happens, I experience a blankess of mind second only to how I felt trying to come up with my next question for Dee Dee.

It’s a little terrifying, but also extremely freeing. Kind of like taking mushrooms and walking through three feet of snow in Roslyn, WA, wearing sheer tights and a silver fox coat in a druid graveyard at midnight. Or so I’d imagine.

In the vast expanse of black nothingness, a little idea rocket zoomed from the abyss and exploded me into consciousness again.

“OH! What about these little bumps on the backs of my arms?”

She picked up my bicep and adjusted her glasses.

“A lot of people have this. It’s called **WAMP WAAAMP WAMP** and there are prescription medicines for it, but you should just get Amlactin lotion from the drugstore.”

What she actually called it was keratosis pilaris, but my brain isn’t a Tupperware container for multi-syllabic medical terms. It occurs when keratin, that stuff that’s great for your hair, is produced in excess and essentially clogs up your hair follicles, forming little bumps. NOT ZITS, OK?

I always want a prescription, a laser, an inhaler, anything from the doctor. I feel like it makes my visit worthwhile. But my dermatologist happens to be one of my parents’ best friends and tells me how it’s going to be, not how I want it to be. You’d think I could waltz into her office and get blasted with fancy microdermabras-ers with a cherry on top once a month, but she just prescribes me some acne cream if I need it, and sends me to the drugstore for everything else.

Kind of like how her husband, who happens to be my dentist, sends me to the same drugstore for White Strips instead of zapping me with fancy teeth lasers. IT’S A CRUEL WORLD I LIVE IN, IT TIS.

I probably asked, “But... but... are you sure that an over-the-counter cure is strong enough?” eyes welling with first-world tears. She told me to come back if “my condition persisted,” squinting at the, like, five bumps on my left arm.

There was no Amlactin to be found amongst the bottles of shimmery Tahitian vanilla and pots of whipped lavender soufflés, because it was located in the section along with the other the weird, clinical misfit topicals that the pretty lotions don’t want to hang out with but are harder workers and end up being better for you in the long run.

Since that time, Amlactin has expanded their product line and packaging so it can hang with the cool kids in the lotion aisle, but it’s still that nerdy, smart formula that it always was. I’m now a huge fan of their Ultra Hydrating Body Cream. It works by dissolving rough patches with lactic acid, which just sounds cool.

Also, I recently found out about DERMAdoctor’s KP Duty Body Scrub, which rules! I’ve been using it for about a week before showers on my arms and these other weird rough patches on my legs that I’m pretty sure are a result of HAVING TO WEAR PANTS all the time in this godforsaken city. I’d be in a slutty nighty and a fur right now if I were still in Texas.

What weird skin conditions do you have? Show me on Instagram after you filter the hell out of it so it looks clear and beautiful.