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Chicken skin refers to patches of small hard bumps that resemble the skin of a plucked chicken.
These bumps are noncancerous but can make your skin feel rough and dry like sandpaper. Plus, they look rather unappealing, especially if they appear on the face.
This article will discuss the details of this condition and how it is treated.
Chicken skin can affect people of all ages and genders but is more common in kids. Nearly half of the pediatric population suffers from this condition at some point during childhood. (1)
Causes of Chicken Skin Under the Eyes
Chicken skin is caused by the buildup of excess keratin inside the skin pores. Keratin is a type of structural filament-forming protein that is produced by specialized cells called keratinocytes in the outermost layer of the skin.
Unlike other skin cells, keratin does not break down easily and is less prone to tearing or damage. It is used by the body to make hair and nails and strengthen the skin barrier.
However, overproduction of keratin can lead to its accumulation and hardening inside the hair follicles, forming bumps on the surface of the skin. This also happens if your skin is unable to regenerate itself properly.
The skin keeps shedding the dead cells settled on the outermost layers to make room for new skin cells. This is a gradual process wherein the entire topmost layer of the skin is replaced by fresh skin over time. But any delay or impediment in this natural skin renewal can lead to the buildup of dead skin cells on the surface and inside the pores. (2)
Signs and Symptoms of Chicken Skin
Chicken skin is a skin condition characterized by patches of tiny bumps that can occur on any part of the body that has hair follicles.
This condition affects mostly the upper arms, front of the thighs, and hips, but they can appear on the face too, albeit less commonly. Children often get it under their eyes or on their cheeks.
The bumpy patches can be described as follows:
- Have a rough and dry texture
- Can be skin colored, white, red, pink, or purplish (on lighter complexion), and brownish-black (on deeper skin tones)
- Look like goosebumps, small warts, or pimples
- Become more prominent during dry weather, especially in winter
- May itch
- Are painless
Home Remedies for Chicken Skin Under the Eyes
Try these home remedies to get rid of chicken skin under the eyes:
1. Take warm baths
Warm water helps soften the skin and open your pores. A gentle massage of the under-eye skin then helps expel the dead cells clogging your pores.
However, avoid long hot showers as exposing your skin to too much water and heat can strip away its natural lipids and render it drier than before.
2. Apply moisturizing lotions
Chicken skin is very dry and rough, so it is recommended that you apply a moisturizer to make the bumps less discomforting and noticeable. Plus, moisturized skin heals better.
3. Use a humidifier
Install a humidifier in your room if you live in an arid environment. This will help restore some hydration to your dry irritated skin.
Treatments for Chicken Skin
Chicken skin is a harmless condition that resolves without treatment in its own time, but it can make your skin quite dry, rough, and patchy.
Fortunately, several treatment options are available. Emollients, exfoliants, anti-inflammatory medications, phototherapy, and various laser therapies can treat chicken skin. (2)
The medical treatments, such as chemical peels and laser treatment, can be a bit harsh for the fragile skin under your eyes and are therefore best used under the guidance of a dermatologist.
1. Chemical peels
A chemical peel involves applying a chemical solution to the bumpy skin to dissolve the bond between the dead keratinized cells so that they can shed easily. The damaged skin peels away gradually to reveal new skin with clean, tight, unclogged pores.
Superficial chemical peels can be done under the observation of dermatologists in clinics.
2. Topical retinoids
Your dermatologist may recommend a low-strength topical retinoid, such as 0.01% tazarotene, to clear the chicken skin under your eyes. Retinoid is a derivative compound of vitamin A that stimulates skin cell turnover for faster skin regeneration.
According to reports, applying this ointment every night is quite effective in reducing chicken skin. The patches tend to fade after 2 weeks of application and disappear completely after 4–8 weeks of application. (2)
Dos and Don’ts to Deal With Chicken Skin Under the Eyes
Here are a few skin care tips to heal chicken skin faster and better:
- If you are using a retinoid to promote cell turnover, make sure to use it together with vitamin E and moisturizer for best results. Retinoids can further dry out your skin, so it’s important that you use them in combination with a hydrating moisturizer. Plus, vitamin E can help enhance the cell turnover activity and overall skin healing process.
- Don’t scratch, squeeze, or pick at the bumps as this could tear your delicate under-eye skin and result in scarring or infection.
When to See a Dermatologist?
Chicken skin is mostly a cosmetic concern rather than a health threat, and it usually heals on its own over time. But you should consult a dermatologist and seek treatment in the following cases:
- The bumps are making you very self-conscious about your appearance.
- The bumps become painful, itchy, or discharge fluid.
Is Chicken Skin Contagious?
No, chicken skin is not contagious and typically occurs due to the genetic makeup of a person. (2)
Chicken skin is a nonthreatening condition that generally does not require treatment, but you can seek medical help if it is bothering you too much. A few home remedies and skin care measures can help speed up the healing process.
But bear in mind that you must exercise special care when handling the delicate skin under your eyes.