How My Keratosis Pilaris Messed Up My Love Life


woman hugging herself with bare arms

For a lot of girls, tender, clean pores and skin is excessive on our mile-long listing of fascinating bodily traits. I realized this in center college, after I first began shaving my legs. Physique lotion and shaving cream advertisements taught me that wholesome pores and skin was “touchable” pores and skin—the sort that folks would glide their fingers over, and say, “Wow, your pores and skin is so tender.” With a view to be horny, one’s pores and skin needed to be rose-petal clean, I believed. It was both “Skintimate or not.” (Keep in mind these commercials?) And on the age of 12, I shortly found that my explicit pores and skin was decidedly…not.

How I Found My Keratosis Pilaris

I’ve keratosis pilaris. It’s a scary-sounding pores and skin situation, nevertheless it isn’t uncommon. The truth is, KP plagues a staggering 40 p.c of the grownup inhabitants.1 The situation consists of little crimson bumps, that are most frequently discovered on individuals’s thighs and the backs of their arms. These bumps are product of useless pores and skin cells that construct up and thicken across the hair follicles (the identical factor that causes pimples). It’s tough and bumpy, and I’m cursed with having it not solely within the traditional locations however on my calves and forearms, too.

Let’s simply say nobody would ever forged my limbs in a shaving cream industrial. Le sigh.

I first observed my KP in sixth grade, when my greatest buddy’s large sister pointed it out. She thought it was razor burn (it does look very comparable) and supplied me a bottle of lotion to deal with it. I hadn’t shaved, so I knew it couldn’t be that. I didn’t know what it was, nevertheless it didn’t matter. I figured this was simply the best way my pores and skin regarded, and I shrugged it off.

I didn’t begin to really feel self-conscious about my KP till the next yr. Once I was 13, I began courting my first boyfriend, Matt. (Nicely, “courting,” as in he’d carry my books to biology class and occupy my evenings with lengthy chats over AOL On the spot Messenger.)

Someday, Matt determined to ditch his man mates to sit down with me at lunch. It was a romantic gesture, and his mates teased us for it. However Matt defended me, instructed them to shove off, and put his hand on my arm.

I in all probability wouldn’t even bear in mind at the present time, if not for the factor that occurred subsequent. The second Matt’s palm landed on my forearm, he felt the tough bumps, recoiled, and stated, “Whoa, your pores and skin appears like sandpaper!”

I immediately flushed with embarrassment. Matt was a jerk for saying it, however he was proper. My pores and skin did really feel like sandpaper. Whenever you’re 13, humiliation like that actually sticks with you. Even after Matt and I broke up (all of two weeks later), I wore long-sleeve shirts every single day till highschool.

A few years after the lunch incident, I found the magic of Google, and one of many first issues I ever regarded up was the phrase “crimson bumps throughout physique.” I perused a couple of web sites and decided that I had KP (my first, however actually not final, web self-diagnosis). After figuring out my situation, I virtually cried with aid. I wasn’t a medical anomaly—my sandpaper pores and skin had a reputation.

Dwelling With KP as a Teen

Naturally, I regarded up therapies and begged my mother to purchase me a bottle of dear KP lotion. When it arrived, I used to be ecstatic. However the system burned my delicate pores and skin, and when it didn’t make my KP immediately disappear, I used to be distraught.

As a result of right here’s the factor: There isn’t a treatment for KP. The situation is considered genetic, probably hormonal, and normally goes away by your 30s or 40s. Till then, one can deal with KP by chemically exfoliating with AHAs, lactic acid, salicylic acid, or urea, and moisturizing.2 Sadly, although, till it goes away by itself, there’s not a lot else you are able to do.

I continued to be so ashamed of my bumpy pores and skin all through highschool that I didn’t permit boys to the touch my arms or legs. (In hindsight, I understand this was in all probability for the perfect.) However what positively wasn’t for the perfect is that my pores and skin texture, and my lack of management over it, fully warped my self-worth. It satisfied me that I’d by no means be horny to a different individual.

Even after I turned an grownup and began courting my long-term boyfriend, KP remained considered one of my final unresolved physique picture points. The considered my accomplice operating his arms over my legs solely to be met with bumps and irritation made me cringe.

How I Deal Now

I want I had a neat, tidy ending to this story. I want I may say I found some sudden miracle that eradicated my KP for good. However right now, at 24, I’m nonetheless rocking a bod coated in KP. However the distinction is that now it doesn’t hassle me anymore.

I put on sleeveless shirts and shorts, and I don’t even blink when individuals contact my bumpy pores and skin (with my permission). I feel the primary distinction between my perspective now and my perspective 10 years in the past is that I do know I’m not alone. Once I was an adolescent with nothing however a little bit Google entry, “40 p.c” felt like a theoretical quantity. I used to be so wrapped up in my very own flaws that it didn’t happen to me that everybody has them.

If somebody makes an enormous deal out of my KP now, I do know that they clearly simply haven’t seen many feminine our bodies of their lifetime. And that’s on them.


At this time, I’m open about my pores and skin considerations; I discuss them with mates and consultants. We swap tales and remedy suggestions. And extra importantly, now I do know that completely tender, commercial-ready pores and skin is hardly the norm. Sure, my bumpy forearms shocked 13-year-old Matt—however that’s as a result of we have been children, not as a result of I used to be a freak. If somebody makes an enormous deal out of my KP now, I do know that they clearly simply haven’t seen many feminine our bodies of their lifetime. And that’s on them.

The irony of KP is that as you mature and turn out to be extra assured about your physique, the bumps concurrently disappear. It’s virtually like a magic trick: The older you get and the much less you care, the extra the bumps (and dangerous recollections) fade away.


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