By Laura Dolgy
I’ll never forget the days I used to watch my dad pick away at his arms incessantly in our home bathroom. I was always so fascinated as to what he was doing. It wouldn’t be until a few years later when I started seeing those same pinkish/white dots on my arms that I would figure it out. And what a relief that was!
How to Get Rid of Keratosis Pilaris
Ever since I was 18, I’ve suffered from Keratosis Pilaris (KP). Many know it is as “chicken skin,” those small red bumps that appear most commonly on arms, thighs and legs. Although they are completely harmless, many sufferers are often left self-conscious due to their obvious, red or dark appearance.
Keratosis Pilaris is the result of built up keratin – a hard substance that protects the skin from infection. With KP, keratin ends up building up at the surface of the skin. This creates a plug that blocks the opening to the hair follicle, which results in a rough, bumpy texture. It seems like no one really understands why keratin builds up, yet some believe that it is genetic or associated with other skin conditions like eczema.
A quick search of the condition on Google will show you that there is no cure, but there is tons of discussion and research on how to get rid of keratosis pilaris. In fact, there are so many people living with the condition (seriously – who doesn’t have it these days?) that the product recommendations, suggestions and tips on the Web are endless. So endless that perhaps you don’t even know where to start. Well, the good news is you came to the right place! Although I’m in no way a medical professional, I’d like to tell you what worked for my skin and hopefully help you too!
- Coconut Oil – I use coconut oil for absolutely everything. It’s extremely versatile and can be used in cooking, baking, beauty products, treatments and more. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which helps break down the buildup of keratin! The oil is quite popular and can be found at several retailers. However, it’s important to opt for the organic extra virgin coconut oil, as you want the least amount of preservatives or additives as possible. Grab a spoonful (or handful) and gently rub in. It’s always best to lather it on either in the shower or right after, so that your pores are open. This Coconut Aloe Moisturizing Serum is amazing!
- Exfoliate – I can’t tell you how important exfoliating is to get rid of keratosis pilaris! This is going to help improve the roughness and dryness of those little red bumps. There are several different ingredients and products you can use as exfoliants. Nutmeg has both moisturizing and exfoliating properties and can be mixed up with coconut oil for an even better remedy. Also if you tend to pick at your keratosis like I do, nutmeg is known to have curative properties that heal scars. You can also opt in for a pumice stone or exfoliating sponge/cloth to take in the shower with you.
- Moisturize – Another important tip is to always moisturize. The keratin plug leaves skin very dry and often its buildup can give the look of inflamed skin. However, even with milder KP, it’s important to always apply a moisturizer after treatment, shower or before bed. Similar to the coconut oil, you want to opt for a product that has as little preservatives or additives as possible. Two natural products that work wonderfully are Manuka Honey Skin Cream and Grass Fed Tallow Balm. Manuka Honey Skin Cream is a great choice, as it is slowly absorbed by the skin, but not as greasy as coconut oil. Also Tallow offers fat-soluble vitamins that alleviate redness, inflammation and can help with scarring to.
- Sun exposure – Although winter is known to be worse for KP, summer is the season where everyone starts noticing these little red bumps. Chlorine and salt water can cause dryness, but sun exposure also leads to peeling that temporarily exfoliates and somewhat camouflages KP. However, if you’re more olive or dark skinned, the bumps tend to darken in the sun and can remain even after the tan fades. Keep in mind that with summer comes lots of dryness, so make sure to constantly moisturize after sun exposure. A natural sunscreen made for sensitive skin like Badger Balm Unsented Sunblock will protect your skin from sun exposure, while keeping it moisturized. This is something I still struggle with every summer, but sticking to a proper and successful skin regimen is important and definitely helps! Read More: Best All Natural Sunscreens for Eczema
- Diet – Lastly, know that what we eat, affects everything – especially your skin. It’s important to continue to eat properly and eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as fish, nuts, healthy oils and more. It’s also important to drink plenty of water to keep your skin nourished and hydrated. Many believe food sensitivities may trigger KP. Jennifer Roberge, The Eczema Company founder and owner of this blog, swears that her KP diminished greatly when she cut down on dairy years ago – but there’s no scientific proof on record about this. Curious about keratosis pilaris and diet? Try an elimination diet.
I should point out that overtime, I’ve managed to keep my KP and picking under control and my skin is both smooth and less spotty. I still have moments (like before writing this article coincidentally) that I pick at it, but I’ve cut down drastically.
These suggestions are definitely known to improve the look of KP, but it’s important to note that they might not work for everyone. Also, an improvement won’t happen overnight, so it’s important to continue a regimen that’s appropriate for your lifestyle and budget.
How do you get rid of Keratosis Pilaris? Leave your suggestions and tips below!