Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What is chicken skin?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat is chicken skin?


I googled this bumpy red stuff on my arms and found out it might be something called chicken skin or keratosis. I?m a girl in my mid twenties and have had this since I was a teenager. Is there something I should do about it? Is it contagious?


There are several different possible causes of red bumps on the skin. Without examining your arms, it is not possible to make a correct diagnosis. However, I can provide you some medical information about kerotosis pilaris. Keratosis pilaris, a condition commonly known as "chicken skin," is characterized by the appearance of small, acne-like bumps on the skin most often found on the back of the arms and thighs and sometimes also on the face which most people are mistaken for acne. Keratosis pilaris is believed to be a result of some hormonal effect where the skin releases an excess of keratin, a natural protein in the skin, that eventually clogs the hair follicles on the skin. This condition is chronic and often runs in the family. Although unsightly, keratosis pilaris is completely harmless and not contagious. The disorder cannot be cured and can become worse or mild as time goes by. It is very common for the skin condition to heal without any treatment so there is not much emphasis placed on its cure. However, there are many available treatments. Although the condition is usually very easy to diagnose, it may not be very easy to differentiate with other skin conditions such as acne, milia, atopic dermatitis and many other conditions. Therefore, I would recommend a consultation with a primary care doctor or dermatologist soon to confirm that you have keratosis pilaris and receive appropriate treatment to help improve your appearance.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.