It’s summer and you want to wear short sleeves, but you’re embarrassed by the bumpy, red “chicken skin” on your upper arms. This condition is called keratosis pilaris, and it’s pretty common.
Both the site linked to above and the American Academy of Dermatology say there’s no real cure for it, only treatments. It sounds dire, until you understand that “treatment” more or less means putting lotion on your arms once a day.
I had really bad chicken skin arms, and I tried what seemed like the most obvious way to make them smooth: exfoliation. And if it didn’t work the first time, scrub harder. With 20 grit sandpaper.
Then I read that this is exactly the wrong way to go about clearing up this skin condition. What you need to do is moisturize, and maybe do some gentle chemical exfoliation once in a while.
I tried many different lotions, from the mundane to the pricey (yay for free samples!), and finally found one that worked exceptionally well: plain old ordinary Aveeno daily moisturizing lotion. A couple weeks with that and my arms cleared right up. As for “chemical exfoliation,” there’s no need to purchase expensive skin products. You can find generic AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) lotion in your drugstore for a few bucks.
There’s still plenty of short-sleeve weather time left in the summer, so go ahead and exercise your right to bare arms. (No way could I finish this post without making that joke!)