Human Skin Problems With Animal Names: Get to Know Them Enough to Get Rid of Them

By Arlyn May Bongay | Last Updated April 26, 2013

Bumps like chicken skin, striped skin patterns like a zebra’s and reptilian-like scaly skin in nether areas and on visible body parts – these are real human skin conditions. Let’s put the clinical spotlight on these skin problems and find out if there is any way we can switch off these “animal” tendencies.

Arlyn May Bongay

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A composite photo of Keratosis Pilaris or Chicken Skin, Stretch marks on a lower back skin and a Dry skin patch of the hand

Shhh, we all get them at some point in our lives  – and on some parts of our bodies. These irregularities on our bodies are diseases of their own kind. Being the biggest organ, the skin is exposed to external factors and internal anatomical changes. 1 This means, no one is excused.

Chicken Skin: Keratosis pilaris

THE ALARMING TRUTH. KP, aka follicular keratosis, aka lichen pilaris, aka Chicken skin 2 is a non-curable, common, benign skin disorder which occurs to 50% of adolescents and 40% of adults. 3It is known to run in the family but where it comes from exactly and what causes it, has not yet been decided medically. 4

Keratosis Pilaris on an arm

Keratosis Pilaris on an arm

WHY THE NAME? Rough bumps on a dry skin? Slightly red to really red to brown discoloration? Minute, rough bumps with grater-like texture? 5 If you buy a chicken from the grocery (or boil a dead one to pluck its feathers out, like we do where I come from) and put your skin right next to it – well, your body part has just met its dead relative. Joking aside, the sticky cells responsible for exfoliating the follicular skin form horny plugs in the pores instead, thus making the pores larger and wider than usual. 6 It occurs frequently along the arms, thighs, buttocks,  and back. For some people, it appears on the face, often mistaken for acne. It can practically appear anywhere where keratin is present but for the glabrous skin; the palms and soles. 7 I mean, thankfully they don’t invade “everywhere”. In some cases however, where bacteria is involved with the follicular bumps, KP can get really irritated and develop puss inside the papules. 8

CAN YOU GET RID OF IT? Not entirely. While you can make it disappear from the surface, remember that it is genetic and like your family blood, it is with you forever. But the good news is, you can control the occurrence and eliminate the bumps and dryness.

Zebra Stripes: Striae

THE ALARMING TRUTH. Recently, according to Fox News, doctors are saying that 50% of stretch marks problems are genetic in origin. 9 But considering the race and age, the occurrence of stretch marks can go further up 90% in a number of population. 10 The concern on whether it is harmful or not can be answered by no and yes. Physically, like KP, it is benign. But psychologically, it can be harmful to people who are wary of their self-image. While largely prevalent to women who give birth, growing adolescents and body-building men are likely as prone. 11 These marks are a type of scarring caused by rapid over-stretching beyond the skin’s elastic ability thus disrupting collagen production. 12

Reddish stretch marks on the lower back of an adolescent Caucasian

Reddish stretch marks on the lower back of an adolescent Caucasian

WHY THE NAME? For people with fair complexion, stretch marks vary from pinkish, to reddish brown even purplish and dark brown discolorations. 13 But the case with African skin is very different. On a chocolate brown to dark brown skin type, the striped markings appear lighter. They appear on parts of the skin likely to stretch rapidly, like the arms, thighs, breasts, hips and buttocks. 14, 15 They can appear on large areas of the skin and for people who are self-conscious, no one wants to be a human zebra.

CAN YOU GET RID OF IT? The bad news is, like KP, it cannot be removed entirely. Since stretch marks are dermal scars, its imprint on our body is skin deep. The good news however, like KP, the appearance can be improved in time with a viable regimen. 16

Snake Skin: Xerosis cutis

THE ALARMING TRUTH. If not treated properly and immediately, it can lead to cracking, severe itching and eventually bleeding. Annually, there is at least 1 in 32 who suffer dry to extremely dry skin. 17 But if age is considered, 75% of those 64 years old and above are prone to dry skin problems. Having dry skin means poor retention of water in the body. No water, no moisture, you do the math.

Dry skin on knuckles with a scaly texture

Dry skin on knuckles with a scaly texture

WHY THE NAME? On the outset, there is  characteristic redness to the skin. This develops into cracks that widen and deepen. These geometric formation on the skin can easily be likened to reptilian skin, what with its varying cuts, impressions and texture.

CAN YOU GET RID OF IT? This depends on the primary causes of dry skin. Dehydration is merely one among many. For causes like lack of water, deficiency in vitamins and nutrients, a religious intake of what is necessary can help stop and even avoid anymore dry skin. Another cause that can easily be solved is taking one too many hot showers. As it is, hot water strips the body of its necessary oils in as much as long baths regardless of water temperature. 18 Contact dermatitis, another cause for dry skin can be managed by avoiding substances which cause irritation or allergic reaction. 19 For genetic and more permanent causes like psoriasis, even more with diabetes and liver disease, which all cause dry skin, it is best to consult a physician.

If you ask me…

As far as I know, no one wants to become a human mutation of chicken-zebra-snake, unless you plan to be a mythical creature. As we age, it is a little less easier to dabble on the mysteries of our body. So while we are younger, we might as well do something about it.  Don’t just buff, scrub and peel. Moisturize afterwards. Glycolic, lactic , alphahydroxy and salicylic are either found as separate over-the-counter treatments or found to enrich moisturizers.  Urea, additionally, helps soften even the hard-core crusty skin. Above all, drink lots of water and start a healthy lifestyle!

If all else fails, ask a dermatologist. 20




Reactions

  1. I knew someone who have striae, and that makes her so conscious of her body image. I have read some articles also that striae is caused by strong scratching of the skin specially on upper thighs. Others said that, if your fat and you always do scratch leaves a mark after you become thin.

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