What Those Bumps On Your Arms Really Mean

Do your arms feel bumpy, but the bumps don't hurt or itch? The most common cause of bumps on your arms is keratosis pilaris — also known as KP or chicken skin — but there are other possible causes. Check with your dermatologist to get a proper diagnosis of your skin condition. 

If it is keratosis pilaris, you'll have tiny red, brown, white, or skin-colored bumps on your upper arms or legs that feel rough, but they aren't painful. They most commonly appear on the upper arms or legs, but they can pop up anywhere. It's most common in kids and teens but can happen at any age. They often get worse with cold, dry weather — hello winter! 

So, what exactly are those bumps? They are a build-up of keratin, a protein in the skin (via the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic). You could be at risk of getting keratosis pilaris if you have seasonal allergies, eczema, dry skin, or are overweight. If you have a family history of keratosis pilaris or a personal history of skin cancer, you're also more likely to get it (via Healthline). 

How to treat keratosis pilaris

There are some keratosis pilaris treatments you can do at home. Gently exfoliate with a loofah to get rid of dead skin cells, and use a mild soap with no fragrance added. Use a moisturizer with lactic acid or urea as one of the ingredients, and apply after you shower and a minimum of twice a day (via the American Academy of Dermatology Association). If you take a shower in the morning, apply after you shower and reapply before bed. You can add a third application in the middle of the day (via Health).

The good news? Those bumps on your arms are harmless and will usually clear up on their own, with or without treatment. Exfoliation and moisturizing can help get rid of them sooner. If it's severe, you can see a dermatologist who can prescribe a medication to help get rid of the dead skin cells. They can also add laser treatments and microdermabrasion sessions.