10 Facts About Keratosis Pilaris From Dr. Pimple Popper

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Do you have tiny, red, rough bumps on your skin? You're not alone: The condition, known as keratosis pilaris, affects 80 percent of adolescents and 40 percent of adults. "It's one of the most common requests I get from people on social media and my YouTube channel," Dr. Sandra Lee, a.k.a. Dr. Pimple Popper, tells Mental Floss via email.

Lee created her new Body Smoothing System—which includes a body scrub and a lotion—in response to that feedback. "KP is such a common condition but there are not many products available over-the-counter that treat it specifically. Many people may not even know that they have keratosis pilaris and think that the bumps are acne or something else—so I really want to spread the word and educate on what this condition is as well as provide products that will help to control it." Here's what you need to know about KP from Dr. Pimple Popper herself.

1. THE CONDITION HAS A NICKNAME THAT'S FOR THE BIRDS.

The hallmark of KP is patches of small, rough, pimple-like bumps on the skin, according to Lee. It's caused by excessive production of a protein called keratin, which builds up until it plugs hair follicles (a.k.a. the pores) and causes those bumps to form. It's often called chicken skin because the condition resembles the skin of a plucked chicken.

2. IT RUNS IN FAMILIES.

What causes KP is unknown, but some reports suggest it's an autosomal dominant disorder, which means you only need to inherit one copy of the gene to get it. According to Lee, KP starts early—sometimes before a child is even 2—and flares up during adolescence. Thankfully, most KP fades by adulthood.

3. KP IS COMMONLY FOUND ON THE UPPER ARMS.

But that's not the only place it appears: KP can also be found on the front of the thighs, back, butt, or face. It can range in severity from just a few bumps to the majority of a particular area of the body.

4. THE BUMPS AREN'T ALWAYS RED.

KP bumps tend to be lighter and redder on fair skin, according to Lee. But they can also be white, pink, light purple, brown, or black—it all depends on the person's skin tone.

5. THERE ARE A FEW TYPES.

The type of KP varies depending on where on the body it's found. Beyond regular KP—which can either be rough, flesh-colored bumps or red, itchy bumps—according to Lee, there's one other variant to be aware of: keratosis pilaris rubra. It mostly affects teenage boys. The bumps are the same, but the skin is a bright, bright red.

6. IT'S WORSE IN THE WINTER.

Things like low humidity and cooler temperatures mean the skin is drier, which irritates KP. But it's not just winter weather that can cause KP to flare up. "Many people with KP will notice their condition worsen after they’ve spent time in the sun," Lee says. "This can be due to dryness that can worsen the bumps. In addition, unprotected sun exposure can also darken pigmentation and make KP more apparent on the skin."

7. THOSE WITH KP MIGHT WANT TO AVOID SELF TANNING.

It's not because self tanner is dangerous, Lee says, but "because KP lesions are hyperkeratotic," meaning the skin sticks up and is dry. "Self tanner will probably get stuck and collect in these areas, causing those areas to darken/stain more and then the KP would look more noticeable," she says. "Also, self tanner tends to dry the skin up more in general, so would probably aggravate your KP more, since KP has a lot to do with dry skin already."

If you really need to get that just-off-the-beach glow, Lee advises dabbing your KP with moisturizer or lotion "so that self tanner doesn't get caught in it, stain the area more, and make it more obvious."

8. IF YOU HAVE ASTHMA, YOU'RE LIKELY TO HAVE KP.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, people with dry skin, eczema, hay fever, ichthyosis vulgaris (which causes dry skin), and asthma are more likely to develop KP. "I don't believe there is a direct correlation between asthma and KP," Lee says. "However, people who are atopic—[they] have dry skin and tendency for allergies and asthma—have a higher chance of having KP. People shouldn't worry that if they have KP that this means they will develop asthma."

9. IF YOU HAVE KP, YOU SHOULDN'T BE CONCERNED.

"It's a common and harmless skin condition," Lee says. "However, I know that these bumps can be uncomfortable and if they are more severe, [they'll] keep people from wanting to show their arms or wear short sleeves."

10. IT'S NOT CURABLE, BUT IT IS TREATABLE.

"If you have KP, you probably want to treat both the bumps and the dryness on your skin," Lee says. "You can treat the bumps by exfoliation—chemical and physical exfoliants/scrubs can help—and also [by] keeping skin hydrated! I would suggest finding products that contain an exfoliating ingredient such as glycolic acid and hydrating ingredients such as shea butter." The products in Lee's Body Smoothing System both contain 10 percent glycolic acid, making it good for treating KP (as well as skin that is generally dry or bumpy).

And, last but not least, Lee says you shouldn't forget your sunscreen: "It's important to remember to always use broad-spectrum sun protection, but especially on those areas you have KP."

The Best (and Worst) States to Have a Baby

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While having a baby is usually a joyous occasion, the logistics of the process can differ wildly based on where you’re raising your family. Healthcare costs, hospital rankings, mortality rates, availability of doctors and midwives, and many other factors vary from state to state and region to region.

WalletHub recently decided to crunch some numbers to figure out which states are the best for soon-to-be and brand-new parents, and which are the worst. The financial advisory site (which loves to rank states on characteristics like how happy, fun, and environmentally friendly they are) examined a number of different factors related to pregnancy, childbirth, and infancy in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.

The data encompassed 26 different factors related to childbirth and parenting, including how much hospitals typically charge for C-sections and conventional deliveries, the average cost of a babysitter, the state’s parental-leave policy, maternal and infant mortality rates, vaccination rates, and how many pediatricians, OB-GYNs, midwives, and childcare centers there are per capita.

Below are the top 10 best states for having a baby overall, according to WalletHub's analysis.

1. Vermont
2. Massachusetts
3. Minnesota
4. New Hampshire
5. North Dakota
6. Connecticut
7. Colorado
8. Nebraska
9. District of Columbia
10. California

And here are the top 10 worst:

1. Mississippi
2. Alabama
3. South Carolina
4. Louisiana
5. Oklahoma
6. West Virginia
7. Georgia
8. Arkansas
9. New Mexico
10. Nevada

Few states had consistent ratings across all categories, in part because in the U.S., good healthcare is incredibly expensive. Vermont, the overall winner, was number one in the healthcare category and number five in family friendliness, but it ranked all the way down at number 20 for cost. California cracked the overall top 10, but was more costly than any other state save Alaska. Louisiana, meanwhile, was the cheapest state to have a baby, but was 51st in the healthcare rankings.

The best states to give birth in aren’t necessarily the best states to raise a child in, either, according to the site's analysis. New Hampshire was second in health care, but number 40 for baby friendliness, meaning it has few child care centers and poor parental leave policies. Maine, too, was number seven in the healthcare rankings but only number 37 in baby friendliness.

Overall, it seems that when it comes to having kids, no state is perfect. See the full list at WalletHub.

[h/t a plus]

12 Facts About Kidney Stones

Illustration by Mental Floss. Images: iStock
Illustration by Mental Floss. Images: iStock

Kidney stones are more common than ever. According to Harvard Medical School, every year more than 3 million people see a doctor for relief from these hard mineral and salt deposits, which form in your kidney when urine becomes too concentrated. Here's what we know about the condition formally called nephrolithiasis.

1. KIDNEY STONES TYPICALLY CAUSE REALLY PAINFUL SYMPTOMS.

At first you may notice your urine is cloudy, bloody, and foul smelling. Your back may begin to ache, and nausea may come over you. Then, as the stone moves from your kidney into your urinary tract or bladder, sometimes becoming trapped, there’s often an intense, stabbing pain that many people say they wouldn’t wish on their worst enemy.

2. MOST PEOPLE DEVELOP ONE TYPE OF STONE …

What kind of kidney stone you get depends on your diet, fluid intake, genetics, hereditary disorders, and even whether you take certain medications, but the vast majority of people get calcium oxalate stones. They're formed from a mix of calcium in urine and the compound oxalate, which is found naturally in food like nuts, chocolate, and some vegetables, including beets and spinach; oxalate is also produced by your liver. There's some evidence that people who take the seizure medicine topiramate can develop these stones in the form of calcium phosphate.

3. … BUT THERE ARE THREE OTHER KINDS TOO.

Struvite stones are fast-growing mineral deposits that typically develop in response to a urinary tract infection, and can grow large enough to block the kidney, ureter, or bladder before you notice any symptoms; they affect women more than men. Uric acid stones turn up in people who eat a lot of red meat, shellfish, and organ meats, which contain hefty doses of an organic compound called purine that can lead to more uric acid than the kidneys can excrete. Cystine stones are caused by a rare hereditary disorder called cistinuria in which your kidneys excrete excessive amounts of the amino acid cystine.

4. THEY'RE EXTREMELY COMMON—ESPECIALLY IN MEN.

There's a solid chance you could end up with a kidney stone. The National Kidney Foundation notes that one in 10 people will develop one during the course of their life. And if you’re male, take note: Your gender alone is considered a kidney stone risk factor. Men are twice as likely as women to develop them. Another factor is age: Although stones are most common from ages 20 through 50, they tend to peak around age 30.

5. IF YOU’VE HAD A KIDNEY STONE, YOU’LL PROBABLY DEVELOP ANOTHER ONE …

Sorry to say, but simply having a kidney stone puts you at risk for a recurrence. If you’ve had one, the U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that there’s a 30 to 50 percent chance more stones will form within five years.

6. … BUT YOU CAN TAKE STEPS TO PREVENT THEM.

Cutting back on sodium (i.e. deli meats, packaged soups, and processed foods) can help, because a stone can form from excessive salt consumption. You should also avoid too much animal protein—it produces urine containing more acid, which is known to increase your risk for kidney stones—and increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. And be sure to drink plenty of fluids, especially water—at least 12 glasses a day. (That's good advice for everyone, not just those prone to kidney stones.)

Don't drink much apple or cranberry juice as both contain oxalates and are linked to an increased risk of developing calcium oxalate stones. High doses of Vitamin C may boost the concentration of oxalate in urine; the Cleveland Clinic recommends a daily maximum of 500 milligrams.

7. IT'S A MYTH THAT CALCIUM CREATES SOME KIDNEY STONES.

Despite the fact that the word calcium is part of the most common kind of kidney stone, you don’t need to treat calcium as the enemy. In fact, having too little calcium can actually increase the odds you’ll get these types of stones. According to the Cleveland Clinic, eating about two or three servings of calcium-rich foods daily reduces oxalate absorption, helping to keep calcium oxalate stones away. So get out the cheese.

8. IF YOU PASS A STONE, CONGRATULATIONS! NOW TAKE IT TO A DOCTOR.

Ninety percent of kidney stones are passed through urination. Getting one out this way may hurt a lot, but once the stone has finished causing you agony, it could provide clues that could help you avoid developing another one. If you’re able to retrieve the stone, bring it to your doctor, who can order an analysis. Identifying its components can reveal the kind of stone it is and potentially point to a treatment or prevention plan.

9. IF YOU CAN’T PASS A STONE, TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE …

In an attempt to exit the body, a stone travels from the kidney to the bladder through a narrow tube called the ureter. If the stone is larger than a quarter-inch, it's simply too big to pass through the ureter, and will get trapped there. (If it can make it through to your bladder, it's small enough to pass out out of your body through the urethra.) This causes intense pain, blocked urine flow, and possible bleeding from urinary tract walls. That's when it's time for treatment.

There are several methods for getting rid of a kidney stone, all of which aim to break the stone into smaller pieces so they can leave the body. In an extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (from the Greek for "crushed stone"), high-frequency sound waves are applied externally to break stones up, allowing them to pass when you pee. Laser lithotripsy takes a similar approach: Stones in the ureter are broken up with a laser and also leave the body naturally. More invasive is percutaneous ultrasonic lithotripsy, which involves passing narrow instruments (including a fiberoptic camera) through your back to your kidney; ultrasound breaks the stones up, and then fragments are removed by an instrument. Finally, a ureteroscopy is a treatment option in which a small scope is inserted in the ureter towards the bladder to determine the stone's location. Then it's broken up for natural passage or removed altogether. Luckily, you're unconscious under general anesthesia during the last procedure.

10. … AND THEY'RE FAR SUPERIOR TO THOSE USED IN THE PAST.

Kidney stones are nothing new—mentions of the painful formations go back more than 5000 years, to Mesopotamian medical texts—and medical interventions have occurred for just as long. Stones made it into the Hippocratic Oath, in which physicians swore they would "not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone," leaving the procedure to "such men as are engaged in this work" [PDF]. Surgeons in ancient Greece and India were attempting stone removal as far back as the 7th century BCE.

The 16th to 18th centuries were a heyday for stone surgeons, who were largely self-taught. The most notorious of them was Frere Jacques Beaulieu. He pioneered the lateral perineal lithotomy—which involved making an incision in the perineum, inserting a terrifying cutting instrument into the bladder, cutting up the stone, and then extracting the pieces with the instrument or his fingers—in the late 17th century. Unfortunately for his patients, he had no technical training, and his method was often deadly; in 1698, after 25 of his 60 patients died, he was banned from doing the procedure—but he didn't stop. He's thought to have performed more than 5000 lithotomies. (And no, the song doesn't seem to be about him.)

11. IF ALL ELSE FAILS, TRY RIDING A ROLLER COASTER.

If you’re a thrill seeker who happens to have kidney stones (and some vacation time), you may be in luck. After a "notable number" of patients reported that riding the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster at Walt Disney World in Orlando helped them to pass their kidney stones, Michigan State University urologist David Wartinger decided to investigate. He created a kidney replica—complete with kidney stones—put it in a backpack, and let it ride the roller coaster 60 times. It worked—but passing the stones depended on where the backpack was placed in the coaster. Rides in the last car were the most effective, with the stones passing 64 percent of the time, while the front few cars yielded only a 16 percent success rate.

Big Thunder Mountain was the only ride in the theme park that was effective. Neither Space Mountain nor Aerosmith's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster did the trick, likely because they were too fast, with a G-force that pinned the stones in place. Of course, while this is an interesting finding, if you suspect you have kidney stones, speak to your doctor before you high-tail it to Walt Disney World.

12. A KIDNEY STONE THE SIZE OF A MOUSE WAS REMOVED FROM A MAN IN 2004.

The stone measured 5.11 inches at its widest point—a world record. Five years later, a whopping 2.5-pound stone was surgically removed from a man in Hungary in 2009. Perhaps seeing a bunch of kidney stones in one place other than originating from your own body will put you at ease. If that’s the case, check out the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago, where a collection of stones is on display in glass jars.

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