We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Does "Chicken Skin" Mean?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Chicken skin is a common and harmless skin condition that causes raised lumps to appear in the skin, especially on the upper arms. The formal name for this condition is keratosis pilaris, but it is commonly known as “chicken skin” because of the distinctive bumpy appearance, which looks like the skin of a plucked chicken. There are treatments patients can use to manage it, and the bumps often resolve with age.

There appears to be a genetic link to this condition, and it tends to emerge during puberty. The patient may initially think that the lumps are acne, but they are actually formed by plugs of keratin inside the hair follicles. Instead of exfoliating, the keratin builds up and creates a lump. Depending on the patient, the lumps may be reddish or roughly flesh-toned. They can be found on the face and legs as well as the arms and may cause distress because of their unsightly appearance.

Low humidity can exacerbate the condition, as the skin dries out and becomes even harder to exfoliate. In the winter months, when indoor air can be very dry, the patient may notice that the chicken skin is much worse. Conditions like eczema can occur at the same time and may cause redness and itching in addition to the lumps.

Moisturizers will help minimize the bumps, especially if they contain alpha and beta hydroxy acids. Many patients can find an effective moisturizer on the shelf, and a doctor can also prescribe a more aggressive moisturizing cream with added exfoliants if it appears necessary. Regular exfoliation can also help; pumice stones can lift the upper layers of dead skin and remove the keratin plugs, as can a variety of other exfoliants. It is advisable to do a small patch test on the inside of the elbow before applying an exfoliating product to determine if it causes a skin reaction.

This condition is not contagious and does not pose any health risks. Patients with chicken skin who feel uncomfortable in public because of the appearance of their skin may find it helpful to adopt a rigorous skin care regimen to reduce the size of the bumps. It is not advisable to cover chicken skin with makeup, as it can make the condition worse by plugging the follicles and drying out the skin. The genetic nature of this condition makes it likely that a patient's case will be similar to that of family members, and patients with concerns can ask older family members if they experienced the condition in their youth, and how long it took for the bumps to resolve.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.