Why red dots appear on your arms – and how to get rid of them

By | May 11, 2019

The second a spot of sunlight appears, people across the UK immediately begin shedding jumpers and picking out nice T-shirts, dresses and strappy tops to maximise tanning opportunities.

But if you’ve got a patch of red dots on the top of your arms, you might not be so keen to ditch those long sleeves.

The rash, which takes the form of dozens of tiny red bumps close together, is commonly known as ‘chicken skin’ but its official name is Keratosis pilaris.

It can look like you’ve got embarrassing permanent goose pimples, but there’s nothing to worry about, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Some people are more prone to ‘chicken skin’ than others

Should I be worried about my skin?

If you’ve got the red bumps or dots on your arm, there’s no need to be alarmed.

The NHS explains that it’s a common and harmless condition and there’s no need to see your GP unless it’s causing you major concern.

Keratosis pilaris is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person.

Usually, skin improves in the summer and gets worse during winter months or dry conditions – so you might find yours starts to improve very soon, as things warm up.

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Where on the body can you get ‘chicken skin’?

Keratosis pilaris “most commonly affects the back of the upper arms, and sometimes the buttocks and the front of the thighs. Less often, the forearms and upper back may be affected.

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“There are also rare variants of keratosis pilaris that can affect the eyebrows, face and scalp, or the entire body.”

It doesn’t tend to be itchy but can be related to other dry skin conditions

What causes red bumps on the arms?

You can thank your mum and dad for your ‘chicken skin’.

The condition runs in families and is inherited from your parents, the NHS explains.

If one parent has the condition, there’s a one in two chance that any children they have will also inherit it.

The NHS website adds: “Keratosis pilaris occurs when too much keratin builds up in the skin’s hair follicles.

“Keratin is a protein found in the tough outer layer of skin, which causes the surface of the skin to thicken, hence the name “keratosis”.

“The excess keratin blocks the hair follicles with plugs of hard, rough skin. The tiny plugs widen the pores, giving the skin a spotty appearance.”

Woman applying body lotion

There are things you can do to help

How to treat it

The NHS recommends four ways to combat Keratosis pilaris.

Use non-soap cleansers rather than soap – ordinary soap may dry your skin out and make the condition worse

Moisturise your skin when it’s dry – your GP or pharmacist can recommend a suitable cream, although moisturisers and emollients only reduce the dryness of your skin and won’t cure the rash; creams containing salicylic acid, lactic acid or urea are thought to be the most effective

Gently rub the skin with an exfoliating foam pad or pumice stone to exfoliate the rough skin – be careful not to scrub too hard and rub off layers of skin

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Take lukewarm showers rather than hot baths

If you try all of the above and it does not help the condition, you can ask your GP for treatments which might help.

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Mirror – Health