What Causes Rough and Bumpy Skin?

Have you ever wondered what causes rough and bumpy skin? You're not alone! Explore the different causes of rough and bumpy skin and tips on how to manage this skin concern.

Rough and Bumpy Skin on Arms

5 Reasons for Rough and Bumpy Skin

You may be asking yourself, why is my skin so rough and bumpy? There are a few different reasons for rough and bumpy skin:

You probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about exfoliation. But the truth is, exfoliating your skin can be one of the best things you can do for your appearance. Dead skin cells are a natural part of the skin's renewal process and, by removing them, you promote cell regeneration, which results in healthier, more radiant-looking skin.

Exfoliating can help to unclog pores and certain exfoliants can help to prevent mild to moderate breakouts.

What happens if you forget to exfoliate?

You shed 30,000 skin cells every minute. This build-up can leave your complexion dull and dry. These dead skin cells can clog pores and trap bacteria, leading to pimple outbreaks or bumpy skin.     

So if you're not regularly exfoliating, consider adding Cetaphil’s Health Radiance Gentle PHA Exfoliating Cleanser* or Extra Gentle Daily Scrub to your skincare routine. Both products have been specially designed for sensitive skin and are gentle enough to use on your skin every day.

How often should you exfoliate?

You can use gentle exfoliators every day, but once or twice a week is the maximum recommended, depending on your skin type. Always follow up with a moisturizing cream to soothe and protect your skin from dryness.

If you’ve ever had a bad reaction to a new skincare product, you’ll know it's important to be careful about what you put on your skin. Understanding your skin type is vital, and choosing products with ingredients that support your skin’s individual needs will help prevent or alleviate reactions such as rough and bumpy skin.

For example, Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are a group of organic acids that are often used in skincare products. These acids can be used to exfoliate the skin, helping to reduce the appearance of skin concerns such as rough skin. However, AHAs can sometimes also cause swelling, burning, and irritation. Therefore you may want to consider products like Cetaphil’s Daily Smoothing Moisturizer for Rough and Bumpy Skin* as part of your skincare routine, as it is AHA-free.  

The Cetaphil range of products includes cleansers, moisturizers, and sun protection for all skin types. Use our skincare product finder to help find a skincare solution crafted just for you.  

Rough, bumpy skin can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Consult your doctor if you want to discuss any of these conditions and how to treat them.

There are three skin conditions that often get confused with one another: psoriasis, keratosis pilaris, and eczema. Here's how to tell them apart:


Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the body to produce too many new skin cells. This can lead to the formation of thick, scaly patches on the skin.

Keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a common condition caused by an overproduction of keratin, a protein that helps to keep the skin moisturized and protected. If too much keratin builds up, it blocks the pores and traps dead skin cells, creating small red or white bumps on the arms, back, and face.


This is a general term for a group of inflammatory skin conditions that cause the skin to become dry, itchy, and red. There are many different types of eczema, but the most common form is atopic dermatitis.

Our skin is the largest and most exposed organ of your body. Because of this, your skin can experience a lifetime of damage and physical changes caused by environmental factors, such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

UV exposure is responsible for up to 80% of visible signs of aging. And with rays breaking down collagen and elastin, two proteins that keep our skin looking youthful, this can cause wrinkles and rough, dry skin.

If you're concerned about keeping your skin looking its best, be sure to limit your exposure to direct sunlight and use sunscreen when you go outside. View the range of Cetaphil sunscreen products to help keep you protected.

Dry skin is a common problem that can occur when the skin doesn't have enough water or natural oils to keep it soft and supple. In severe cases, dry skin can even crack.

Thankfully, there are a number of ways to manage dry skin including a wide range of Cetaphil moisturizers that help replenish dry skin and retain lost moisture.

How Can You Tell If You Have Rough, Bumpy Skin?

There are a few ways you can tell if your skin is rough and bumpy. Do areas of your skin feel rough and uneven to the touch? Perhaps your skin seems prone to breakouts? Maybe applying makeup evenly is challenging? If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these, it's time for action.

rough and bumpy skincare treatment

What are the Best Ways to Manage and Prevent Rough, Bumpy Skin?

One of the best ways to manage and prevent rough, bumpy skin is to identify and address the cause, but you can also be kind to your skin by:

  • Making sure your shower is warm rather than very hot and moisturizing immediately afterward
  • Not using harsh soaps and skincare products
  • Taking care not to over-exfoliate
  • Avoiding tight clothing made from scratchy fabrics
  • Using non-irritating laundry detergents

How Hydrating Products Can Help

When your skin loses hydration, it can cause dryness, wrinkling and sagging. Topping up with hydrating products such as Cetaphil’s Deep Hydration Healthy Glow Daily Cream can help.

Need Help With Rough and Bumpy Skin?

Ingredients to Look out for:

If you want to improve the feel of your skin, there are a number of important ingredients that can help to make a difference:

Glycerin is a moisturizing agent that is used in skincare products to trap moisture in the skin. It also pulls water from the deeper layers of the skin to the outer layer and increases the hydration of the skin, which relieves dryness. Glycerin is an emollient, meaning it softens the skin too. 

Made from the shea tree in East and West Africa, shea butter contains a high concentration of fatty acids (including linolenic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic acid) as well as vitamins. It acts as an emollient that softens and hydrates the skin. Fatty acids also help to strengthen the skin’s natural barrier against the environment and pollutants. 

Tocopherol, also known as alpha-tocopherol or vitamin E, contains a wealth of antioxidants. Tocopherol helps to retain water in the skin and to keep the skin looking supple, hydrated, and healthy.  

Urea cream is naturally produced by the body and plays an important role in keeping skin looking healthy while also helping to hydrate and soften.

Cetaphil is proud of its range of skincare products and selects only the finest ingredients. Our products are a result of extensive research into what ingredients will benefit sensitive skin of all types.

rough and bumpy skin on face

The Bottom Line

Be sure to correctly exfoliate your skin with a product that is right for you, as well as keeping your skin hydrated. Using the right skincare products and making a few lifestyle changes (such as using non-irritating laundry products) can also help you to manage and prevent rough and bumpy skin.