What Causes Strawberry Skin? 6 Causes

Medically Reviewed on 11/10/2021
what causes strawberry skin
Strawberry skin is not a condition, but a symptom caused by pores that have been clogged by dirt, oil, or bacteria. Learn about 6 causes of strawberry skin

Strawberry skin refers to dark, dotted skin that resembles a strawberry. These black dots are skin pores or hair follicles clogged with dirt, oil, or bacteria.

Strawberry skin is not a condition, but a symptom caused by skin issues. When clogged skin pores or hair follicles (comedones) lead to blackheads, they create an appearance of strawberry skin with black spots in it.

6 causes of strawberry skin

1. Improper shaving

Shaving with a dull razor can cause razor burn, which may appear as strawberry skin, and it can also cause hair follicles to become infected.

2. Folliculitis

Folliculitis is a common skin condition that typically affects the legs. It occurs when the hair follicles become inflamed and infected. Folliculitis may be of two types, superficial or deep. It starts as tiny, red bumps that may gradually darken, resembling strawberry skin. Some other causes of folliculitis may include:

  • Shaving
  • Waxing
  • Wearing tight clothes
  • Rubbing the skin
  • Spending time in a hot tub

Types of folliculitis include:

  • Staphylococcus aureus folliculitis (caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria trapped in the hair follicles)
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa folliculitis (caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria found in shared hot tubs and whirlpools)
  • Malassezia folliculitis (caused by an infection with Malassezia yeast)
  • Pseudofolliculitis barbae (razor bumps that occur from irritation during shaving)
  • Gram-negative folliculitis (may result from the long-term use of anti-acne antibiotics)

3. Keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is another common skin condition that appears as tiny bumps on the upper arms and thighs. These small bumps may resemble goosebumps, small pimples, or chicken skin and are rough to touch. When these pimples cover the thigh, they may look like strawberry skin. Keratosis pilaris is a tiny accumulation of dead skin cells. Some of the common causes of keratosis pilaris include:

  • Dry climate
  • Swimming pool chemicals
  • Winter season

4. Extremely dry skin

Overly dry skin is another risk factor for strawberry skin. Dry skin doesn’t directly cause strawberry skin; however, you may develop razor burns or irritation with dry skin. As a result, you may develop folliculitis or the appearance of darkened pores.

5. Ingrown hairs

Ingrown hairs occur when your hair grows back incorrectly after shaving or waxing your legs. It can be a painful condition if the hair gets trapped under the skin. Signs of ingrown hairs after shaving leg include:

  • Small, dark bumps
  • Bumps filled with pus
  • Darker patches of skin
  • Itching or pain

6. Acne

Acne may be the major reason your pores are clogged. Increased sebum production causes dead skin cells or oil to get trapped in the skin. Acne may appear as whiteheads or blackheads, resembling strawberry skin. Common causes of acne include:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Comedogenic skin products
  • High humidity
  • Sweating
  • Some medications
  • Tight clothes

How can you treat strawberry skin?

Strawberry skin is typically a harmless condition that can be treated with modifications in your shower regimen and shaving routine:

  • Avoid shaving with a dull razor
  • Shave your legs with a moisturizing shave lotion or cream
  • Shave in the direction of hair growth
  • Do not pull your skin when shaving
  • Apply lotion or aftershave to soothe your skin
  • Use an epilator to shave your skin
  • Exfoliate and moisturize your skin daily
  • Treat folliculitis with appropriate cleansers and prescribed medications
  • Treat acne with over-the-counter products, chemical peels, or light therapy


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Medically Reviewed on 11/10/2021
Image Source: iStock Images