Wondering Why You've Got "Strawberry Legs"? Here's What's Actually Going On

From Cosmopolitan
I'm not sure when we decided to use cute names like "chicken skin" and "strawberry legs" to refer to actual skin conditions, but here we are. And by the time you're here, you've probably been looking for a cure for those dark spots and / or red spots that cover your legs (you know, kiiiinda like the seeds that cover a strawberry?). To help you out - and to help you learn the real, non-cute facts about your skin condition as quickly as possible - I reached out to certified dermatologist Sophia Reid, MD to explain what WTF strawberry legs actually are and how to treat them are you.
Why do I get "strawberry legs"?
First, let's get something clear: "Strawberry legs" is not a scientific or technical term. Shocking I know As Dr. As Reid puts it, "strawberry legs" is a term commonly used to describe the appearance of legs that have red spots on the hair follicles that can be caused by a few different things:
Keratosis pilaris
If your red or brown spots are also accompanied by small red bumps, then you are most likely dealing with keratosis pilaris, or KP (i.e. the same rough bumps you are likely to have on the back of your arms). Keratosis pilaris is most common in people with dry skin or eczema, says Dr. Reid, and is caused by excessive keratin building up in your hair follicles. Normally, most people with lifelong "strawberry legs" have nothing to do with anything but keratosis pilaris - which is annoyingly genetic.
Folliculitis
If you have sudden, acne-like bumps around your thighs or buttocks, you may have folliculitis - i. H. Inflammation of the hair follicle due to friction. These tiny red spots have a white-tipped bump (like a classic pimple), although they don't usually affect all hair follicles equally. So if you're dealing with all-over dots - how every single hair follicle on your shin and thigh looks dark or red - you're probably dealing with KP, not folliculitis.
Something completely different
If it's not keratosis pilaris or folliculitis, Dr. Reid that you may experience tiny capillaries leaking just under your skin. Or maybe red moles. Or maybe razors burn. Or maybe a dozen other things. Sorry, but the only way to be sure of what you have without Google Image looking into a black hole itself is to ask a dermatologist. "It can be difficult to tell the cause of your red spots on your own, and since all treatments are different you need to see a board-certified dermatologist to be sure," says Dr. Reid.
How do you get rid of "strawberry legs"?
Again, treatment depends on the cause. The first step in getting rid of your "strawberry legs" is to see a board certified dermatologist to determine the cause. If you're dealing with keratosis pilaris or folliculits, you can try breaking down the bumps and using a chemical exfoliant such as salicylic acid lotion or a glycolic acid-based body wash to smooth the skin. Just note that keratosis pilaris is in your DNA so there is no cure for it - just management.
Another proven standby? Lactic acid lotions that gently exfoliate rough skin while moisturizing it. Dr. Reid recommends two drugstore options: AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion or Eucerin Roughness Relief Cream. Remember: all chemical peels can make your skin extra sensitive to sunburn (yes, even after you've rinsed it off), so sunscreen is a must.
If the drugstore options don't give you enough relief, your dermatologist can prescribe prescription retinoids and cortisone creams to help you. However, if you are into KP, you need to keep in mind that all of these options are only there for temporary improvement in appearance, says Dr. Reid.
Should you use a "strawberry leg" scrub?
When you have bumps there is a natural tendency to pluck, scratch, rub, and wipe them, but that only harms your current situation. Regardless of what you're dealing with, Dr. Reid from excessive exfoliation with harsh scrubs and drying treatments that almost always make a skin condition worse. It can also be a good idea to avoid dry brushing areas with thinner skin, such as your inner thighs, and aggressive dry brushing in general.
Are "strawberry legs" permanent?
I don't want to repeat myself, but it all depends on the cause of your "strawberry legs". While folliculitis and keratosis pilaris can be treated, the latter usually runs in the family and is a hereditary condition (yay! Thank you mom and dad!), Meaning it cannot be prevented, only treated. And you have to be diligent because if you ever stop treatment, it will just come back.
Take that away
Google isn't a doctor (I'm sorry! I know! I wish it was!). That said, the best idea is to schedule an appointment with someone who actually is. Once your dermatologist has had the opportunity to identify the underlying cause of your "strawberry legs", they can recommend the best treatment options for you. Cool? Cool.
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