Brent from the Netherlands asked me to help him out with a school project, and ended up sharing his own skin condition story too.
My name is Brent Decremer and I’m 17 years old. I’m in my last year of high school (fine arts). During the year we have an assignment called GIP. My subject for the GIP is skin structures and skin diseases. For art history we need to write a thesis about one of our inspiring artists and you are one of my inspiring artists. The reason that I emailed you is because I want to ask information about your art and your story about dealing with dermatographia. I also wanted to say that I really admire you. I think you are a noble and inspiring person. You don’t make your dermatographia your voice but the voice of so many people.
Thanks Brent! That is such a nice thing to say!
Turns out, Brent has Keratosis Pilaris, which is a pretty common condition, also known as chicken skin. I asked him to share some information about the condition and his experience with it.
Keratosis Pilaris is a condition where the hair (on your arm and legs etc.) can’t come easily through the stratum corneum (hoornlaag in Dutch) so they grow in and form little red bumps. A person with the condition, his body makes a lot of keratin. Because of the high dose of keratin, the hair is locked up in the follicle (= a bump). The condition isn’t harmful for the health, so it is also called a cosmetic condition. Mostly the condition is found on the upper arms and upper legs but it can also be on the back, butt, etc. Approximately 40 – 50% of the world-population has it. Urea, vitamin A, and glycol acid helps.
Well I first noticed it when I was 12-13 years old. I had it only on the back of my shoulders. And at first I actually didn’t care about it, I thought it would go away by itself. So my mother went with me to the dermatologist, she said it was keratosis pilaris and there was nothing I could do. A few years later it extended to the rest of my shoulders and arms, now we went to my doctor. The doctor gave me a salve. Last summer I was with my family on vacation in Granada and my mother noticed it extended again, now my whole back and shoulders and upper arms were affected. So we went to another dermatologist she gave me some special gel and salve. I also need to wear ‘clothes that breathe’ and when I sweat heavy (like in summer) I need to shower as soon as possible. It helped and it looks a lot better. My skin doesn’t feel really rough any more.
I still hate the way it looks and I actually really wish I didn’t have it. When I was younger I really liked to swim and go to the beach. Now since it got worse, I never go swimming anymore, and in school when we have swim class, I always try to find an excuse so I don’t need to participate with the class. It made me really insecure and I’m ashamed of it, however so many people have it. A positive thing about the condition is that it actually made me and my mother closer. She has it also but less than me. So sometimes we try to find remedies together or talk about it.
Thanks for sharing, Brent! I’m glad to hear something good came out of it, that it brought you and your mother closer, and you guys can share tips for taking care of your skin.
Anyone else have Keratosis Pilaris? I had never heard of it until Brent came along, so it’s great that we met!
Images courtesy of Brent Decremer