How to Treat Keratosis Pilaris

I went to the dermatologist so many times in middle school and high school because people always asked me, “What’s wrong with your arms?”

It turns out I am one of many people who struggle with “chicken skin”. It’s a rash commonly found on the back of the arms, cheeks, and legs also known in the dermatology world as Keratosis Pilaris (or KP). 

First things first. Keratosis Pilaris is a medical diagnosis. And before you get worried- yes, keratosis pilaris is treatable. 

So, what causes Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is caused by the buildup of keratin in your hair follicles. A quick biology lesson- keratin is a hard protein that protects our skin from harmful substances and infection. 

Given that we are mammals, we have A LOT of hair follicles all over our bodies. When keratin blocks the opening of hair follicles, it causes patches of rough, bumpy skin. Therefore many people make the “chicken skin” comparison. KP will usually get worse for people and become more apparent during the winter months when our skin is generally drier.

KP typically improves for most people after puberty. Nevertheless it is a chronic skin condition. This means, you must be consistent in your skin regimen in order to see a big difference in your skin’s texture. And we know we are all about seeing the results!

Is Keratosis Pilaris Treatable?

I’ve got great news for you… KP is treatable!

KP is a great example of where skincare and prescriptions meet. However, skincare is the secret to long term success. 

 It’s a chronic condition, so it can’t be cured, but it can improve drastically with some simple tips that are also great self care. 

Treating keratosis pilaris comes down to two things: exfoliation and moisturization. The goal is to exfoliate the affected area(s) regularly and moisturize often…sometimes even multiple times daily.

I’ve found the more you moisturize the better. You literally cannot do it enough. All day. Every day. 

Pro Tip: Have a thicker moisturizer for night and after showering and a thinner moisturizer you can comfortably use throughout the day.

Once you are in that freshly showered, post-exfoliation portion of your self care routine, you need to moisturize with a product that is extra thick while there’s still a little water left on your skin. It’s called the #SoakAndSmearMethod (borrowed from eczema treatment).

What products should I use for Keratosis pilaris?

So, you’ve got the steps. Now- what you’re really wondering. What products should I be using??

KP is common on the face, bottom, and legs. Important note: these different areas of the body all have different needs. Therefore you need different products

For KP on the body

Choose a physical exfoliator- either a textured toning pad which has chemical exfoliators as well or a scrub to use in the shower. Then, follow up with a rich moisturizer to use after the shower. 

For KP on the face:

A textured toning pad or face exfoliator in the shower followed by a sunscreen in the AM and a thick moisturizer at night is best. Great news if you have a complete skincare routine because a retinoid is also wonderful for KP!

For KP in kids: 

Epionce Lite Lytic Tx is the most gentle, yet effective treatment for keratosis pilaris on the face and body, which is typically the arms in this age group.

Follow with a rich moisturizer after exfoliation. Louana’s Coconut Oil, yes, in the cooking aisle is still one of my personal favorites to treat the KP on my arms. The thick texture of a moisturizer is most important!

You can’t go wrong with these ingredients to treat your KP and help with the overall health of your skin: Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid, Shea Butter

Should I see a dermatologist for my keratosis pilaris?

There are prescriptions available that can go further than over the counter treatment. Some dermatology providers may offer them and some might not, but there is absolutely no shame in asking for help! I want to see you have the glowing, healthy skin of your dreams. When you’ve put in the work, stayed consistent, and you just aren’t seeing the results don’t hesitate to schedule a dermatologist appointment.

While keratosis pilaris is a chronic skin condition you can manage it! With a little persistence and some informed product buying you'll be on the road to healthier skin in no time. Looking for a bit more guidance? Schedule a 1:1 consult with me to create a treatment plan for your KP!