What You Need To Know About Getting Rid Of Those Annoying Bumps On Your Arms

by Rosey Baker
Susana Ramírez

I've been dealing with annoying AF bumps on my arms for as long as I can remember.

I've even fielded questions like "What is that?" and "Are you cold, or is that just white girl skin?"

I'm seriously done with these permanent goosebumps, and so I decided to tackle these suckers full-force.

These bumps, or keratosis pilaris, are caused by a buildup the protein keratin, which can clog your hair follicles.

And they get worse during the winter because the combination of cold, dry weather and hot showers strip away more moisture from the skin than usual.

So, with spring on the horizon, here are a few steps to minimize your bumps and get smoother skin:

1. Open your pores before scrubbing.

Before you can start treating your keratosis pilaris, you'll need to get some warm water to open up your pores before unplugging them.

This is a gross comparison, but when your drain is backed up, you pour in some Draino to loosen everything up down there before you go in to snake out all the dirt.

Warm water will do the same thing to your pores before you get in there and treat the bumps. This gives your skin an opportunity to relax, open wide and say, "ahh" for a minute.

Make sure the water isn't too scalding, though, since hot water can inflame and clog the skin and pores, which is what got you into this mess in the first place.

Even though it may not be totally comfortable, start your shower lukewarm. Trust me, you'll get used to it.

2. Use a body wash with salicylic acid in it.


Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash, $6, Amazon

According to dermatologist Doris Day, keratosis pilaris is "a genetic condition where, for some reason, the follicles on the outer arms and thighs get clogged and don't naturally exfoliate."

So, this leaves breaking down and removing the bumps up to you.

However, it's critical to treat the condition both physically and chemically. You can't just scrub your skin.

Using a body wash with salicylic acid will help, as it's a chemical exfoliant and won't be as harsh or irritating to the skin as a physical one, like a scrub or loofah.

Try out Neutrogena's Body Clear Body Wash, and if you're looking for a moisturizing treatment, there's CeraVe's Renewing SA Lotion, which also contains salicylic acid.

CeraVe Renewing SA Lotion, $9, Amazon 

3. Use a lighter exfoliant.

Another thing that makes those arm bumps so annoying is that the more we try to get rid of them and exfoliate them away, the more persistent they seem to become.

In fact, that's actually what's happening.

The harder you scrub those suckers, the more inflammation you cause to your skin. So again, less is more.

It's better to use a gentle exfoliator like a Clarisonic to do the work for you. Or if you want to keep it simple, just use a basic washcloth with a soft touch.

4. Use a lotion with ammonium lactate in it.


AmLactin Moisturizing Body Lotion, $18, Amazon 

When I went to see my dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, she prescribed me an alpha hydroxy lotion with ammonium lactate in it to loosen up the plugs.

Alpha hydroxy products work to both exfoliate the dead outer layer of the skin and moisturize the layers underneath the epidermis by trapping water inside.

But, you don't have to jump to visiting your derm to get your hands on a fancy prescription.

AmLactin is an over-the-counter option with 12 percent lactic acid that will both moisturize and exfoliate the skin.

5. If all else fails, go see your dermatologist.

If none of the above treatments have worked, you may want to see a dermatologist who can either prescribe you prescription-strength mediation and lotion or give you more options.

These cheap, at-home hacks can only get you so far, and seeing a professional is always the best option.

Citations: How To (Finally) Treat Those Annoying Bumps On Your Arms (Allure)