Do you struggle with “chicken skin”? Do you have small, rough bumps on your thighs, arms, cheeks or butt that you just can’t seem to get rid of? You’re not alone! Many people who have these types of bumps don’t realize that KP is an actual skin condition… and that it’s treatable! Keratosis pilaris is a real, chronic skin condition that affects 30% to 50% of people in the U.S. And while it definitely doesn’t look pretty, the good news is that keratosis pilaris is relatively harmless.
When you realize you’ve got a skin condition, it’s definitely important to see a dermatologist if you can. But it’s good to know there are also ways to soothe those dry, red bumps without resorting to a doctor. Here are five easy ways to help keep your KP in check!
1. Wash your skin the right way.
When you’re washing your KP-affected skin, make sure you’re doing it right. For starters, stay away from hot water. Instead, use warm, or tepid water, which will unclog your pores without stripping your skin of all those hydrating oils it naturally produces. Use mild, fragrance-free soaps without alcohol (more about the importance of ingredients later!), which will clean your skin without further irritating or stripping it.
And lastly, but just as importantly, take your time when you’re sudsing up. Using your fingertips, rub your skin with circular motions. Once you’re done, make sure you rinse off really well so there’s no leftover soap or any oily debris. Pat your skin dry with a soft towel. Do this at least once a day — more if you sweat.
2. Exfoliate to reduce keratin buildup.
It’s important to not intensely scrub your skin because that will probably make KP worse. But you should gently remove all those built up dead skin cells with an exfoliating product or loofah. An effective exfoliator will help remove that top, dead layer of skin to stimulate circulation. Our favorite option is the SLMD Skincare Glycolic Acid Body Scrub. It’s got physical and chemical exfoliants to get rid of all those sandpaper-like bumps, but it’s still gentle and hydrating enough to be used regularly.
One note: If your KP is super red and irritated, you may want to avoid physical exfoliating products and stick with just chemical ones.
3. Hydrate and moisturize your skin.
Yes, those two are different! Hydrating brings water into your skin, moisturizing locks in all that hydration so it stays sealed in your skin.
Anyways, hydrating and moisturizing is always important, but it’s even more important for the KP sufferer. That’s because dry skin makes all those goose pimples that much more obvious. For this reason, KP often clears in the summer and is worse in winter. Like we explained, moisturizers create a barrier between your skin and the air to seal in water and rehydrate the top layer of skin. They can also help alleviate itching or dryness. You can find some moisturizers that include medicated agents to treat the KP. Our favorite is, you guessed it, the SLMD Skincare Glycolic Acid Body Lotion. It’s an awesome option because it has Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid, both of which are AHA chemical exfoliants that are also humectants, aka they pull water into your skin. It’s a shea butter base, which then locks that hydration into your skin.
Whatever moisturizer you choose, make sure you apply it right after you shower to seal in the max amount of moisture, and massage some into your skin at least once, if not several times, a day.
4. Pick the right products.
Plain and simple, if you’ve got KP you should avoid harsh ingredients that can irritate skin. That includes alcohols, comedogenic products that block pores, and anything that will spur excess oil production.
That said, there are tons of super helpful ingredients that can improve your skin’s texture. Look for shower gels, moisturizers, lotions, skin sprays, and other products with the following ingredients:
The smallest of the AHAs, Glycolic Acid is considered the most effective at regenerating collagen, thickening the epidermis, and evening skin tone.
This AHA is awesome at dissolving keratin to improve skin texture, firmness, and smoothness.
A BHA (beta hydroxy acid) that softens and sloughs the top layer of skin cells, Salicylic Acid is excellent for deep cleaning and exfoliation.
It sounds like a weird ingredient, but urea is a hero that hydrates skin and breaks down keratin to decrease skin thickness.
Otherwise known as retinol, adapalene, tazarotene, or tretinoin, all versions of retinoids can unclog pores, clear acne, treat oil production, and reduce inflammation.
5. Watch your diet.
There’s always a big debate about whether or not what you eat affects your skin, but for some people, their diet can make a huge difference. If you want to rejig your diet in hopes it’ll help your KP, try to eat Omega-3s and get more vitamin A. General advice says to stay away from dairy and trans fats.
While scientists don’t exactly know why KP develops, some early researchers believed that it was a form of vitamin A deficiency, since it was seen in certain cases of malnutrition. Additionally, dairy proteins from cow’s milk have been associated with allergies that cause forms of atopic dermatitis and acne, while trans fats increase hyperkeratosis, and that can lead to the irregular thickening of the skin. Omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, reduce inflammation. The DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) in these fatty acids boost hydration and delay the aging process.
The bottom line
While we wish this was the holy grail of keeping your KP in check, everyone’s KP (and their body in general!) is different. So, you may have to try a few different remedies to find one that works best for you. Just know you may not completely rid yourself of KP, as doctors often find it difficult to treat. This is a lifelong condition that can go into remission or become worse under certain circumstances, such as puberty or stress. And clearing KP takes time, so be prepared to maintain your routine for the long haul.