Keratosis pilaris treatment

Keratosis pilaris treatment


Research has shown that there’s a genetic component to KP; 50% of those who struggle with it have a family history of it. There are a few different forms of keratosis pilaris. It can range from pink to red bumps on the cheeks (often mistaken for acne) to small, hard red bumps that aren’t irritated to pimple-like bumps that feel rough and coarse but are inflamed and red. Most often, KP shows up on the upper arms and legs.
Regardless of the type, all forms are the result of the buildup of keratin, a hard protein (skin’s surface is made up of cells known as keratinocytes) that protects skin from infection and harmful external substances. The keratin forms a plug that blocks the opening of the hair follicle, resulting in patches of bumpy, often inflamed skin.

Regrettably, there’s no universally accepted treatment for chicken skin, though it’s generally well accepted that unclogging hair follicles and reducing inflammation can make a big difference.


One of the best ways to get to the root of the problem is to use a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) leave-on exfoliant (active ingredient salicylic acid) that has a pH low enough for exfoliation to occur. BHA is a wonderful multitasker because it penetrates beyond skin’s surface to exfoliate inside the pore lining. It also has antimicrobial properties to kill bacteria that might be making matters worse. Plus, because salicylic acid is related to aspirin (aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid), it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent to reduce the redness that’s often seen with KP.

What about alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)?

AHAs can help exfoliate skin cells, but only at the surface. However, they’re an option for those whose keratosis pilaris does not respond well to BHA treatment. AHAs can be effective when the KP plugs are not very deep, and so the penetrating ability of BHA isn’t quite as necessary. For best results, look for an AHA with glycolic or lactic acid (these may be combined in the same product) at a concentration of 5% or greater.

Because keratosis pilaris is an inflammatory disorder, reducing inflammation is vitally important. (Actually, reducing inflammation is important for skin, period!) You can do this by avoiding bar cleansers and bar soaps, as the ingredients that keep them in their bar form can clog pores and make matters worse. Also, avoid highly fragranced body creams and lotions, whose fragrance can cause irritation and worsen the itching that can accompany KP.

It’s also important not to scrub skin. These bumps can’t be scrubbed away because the problem is deeper than scrubs can reach. Plus, scrubbing only serves to further irritate and inflame skin, making matters worse. Ditch the body scrub and loofah and use gentle cleansers and moisturizers to keep skin smooth. If desired, use a damp cotton washcloth as a mild “scrub,” but be aware that KP itself cannot be scrubbed away, and it’s not the result of skin being dirty.

When it comes to treating KP, ongoing application of such products is required to keep the condition under control. If you stop using them, the condition will eventually return. Some people may find that applying a KP treatment a few times per week will keep the bumps at bay; for others, daily application (once or twice, morning and/or evening) may be needed. As with so many things for your skin, you’ll need to experiment to see which product and what frequency of application works best for you.

Keratosis pilaris treatment

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Keratosis pilaris treatment


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