For much of my life I had a weird and unsightly rash on the backs of both my arms. It wasn’t itchy and it never hurt, but it looked awful. This strange rash ran from roughly my elbow to my armpits and had the appearance of small raised bumps. Running your hand along the underside of my arms you could feel them and you definitely could see them. People would often ask what it was and whether it was catchy.
Being questioned about a rash is embarrassing. But when you’re a child and tactless adults are doing the asking, it’s humiliating. Although the rash never bothered me physically, the comments and questions made me feel terrible. Add to this self esteem sandwich a side of being super pale and it was an annual SUMMER SPECIAL. I’d get grilled about my weird rash and called an albino, lobster, or both. YUM.
In the great genetic lotto I pulled a skin deuce. I couldn’t do anything about being fair, but the rash..? On several occasions I tried scrubbing the hell out of it only to make it worse. Exfoliants made the bumps angry and red; an even bigger target for onlookers. I visited doctors and dermatologists but they didn’t help. I was told it could be a pregnancy rash, though it started at age 7. Or the bumps were from taking too-hot showers. I was prescribed skin creams and lotions, some of which contained known carcinogens. I was told to be patient. To take cold showers. That the rash would go away. But it didn’t.
When I moved to Maine 8 years ago, I still had the rash. The long months of cold kept things concealed but once spring arrived I wanted to rip off all my clothes and run around. So I decided to figure out what the hell this rash was and how / if I could get rid of it for good. Instead of returning to another doctor, I took to the internet and HOLLAAA!! I hit the jackpot. The wonderful peeps of the web had my BACK! Or in this case, the BACKS OF MY ARMS. Because lots of other folks suffer from this same weird rash!
Keratosis Pilaris, also known as Chicken Skin, affects about 40% of the US population. The condition occurs when excess keratin blocks hair follicles. The plugged-up hair follicles then appear as tiny hard bumps on certain parts of the body, mostly the backs of arms, upper thighs and buns, sometimes even the face. I read through the treatment options, many from companies advertising their own miracle cures. But the most intriguing tale came from a woman who claimed she’d cured her own case of Keratosis Pilaris not by buying extra stuff, but by eliminating something completely. Namely, paraben.
Paraben is a preservative used in many cosmetics and toiletries. It lengthens shelf life but has been linked to everything from clogged pores to breast cancer. I was using paraben-free cosmetics, but YEP. my shampoo and conditioner had it. I replaced both with paraben-free products and within 2 weeks my weird bumps had vanished almost completely. All these years later, they’re GONE. I’d spent most of my conscious life being interrogated about this stupid rash, wishing it away, and then all of a sudden, POOF! Smooth and supple.
To say I was elated would be putting it mildly. It felt like a freaking miracle. The weirdest thing is how easy it was to fix. I didn’t have to buy anything special or expensive, I just had to avoid paraben. And clearly labeled paraben-free products are sold everywhere nowadays – from Dollar Tree to Whole Foods. So regardless of income, we can ALL get rid of this rash!
If I hadn’t read that woman’s testimonial I’d never have known. This post is my way of saying thank you and spreading the word. Much like controlling my Meniere’s symptoms by limiting salt, ditching paraben made all the difference to my skin. Try it for yourself and see. Wishing you all the best! And soft supple skin too. XO Dishy.