What is Keratosis Pilaris Exactly?
Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is a skin condition that presents with tiny white or red bumps on the upper arms, upper thigh, cheeks, and bum- often referred to as chicken skin. It’s very common, with up to 80% of children and about 40% of adults with some degree of this condition.
These bumps form when a person’s body overproduces keratin, which is an important building-block protein in your body. This protein buildup can plug hair follicles, causing the little bumps to form. Though completely harmless, KP can leave skin rough, dry and sometimes itchy.
What Causes Keratosis Pilaris?
It’s nothing you’re doing or eating. Unfortunately, KP is completely genetic – so you have yet another thing to be ticked off at your parents about. And, since KP is inherited, there is no real cure for it.
That does NOT mean there aren’t treatments that can greatly reduce the appearance and itch of KP.
What Things Make KP Worse?
If you are someone who is prone to KP, there are certain things that can make it worse.
- Dry climates
- Excessive perspiration
- Frequent exposure to chlorine
And if there is one absolute thing that makes KP worse it’s picking or trying to pop those bumps. They are not acne and you won’t be doing your skin a favor if you continuously pick and pop. In fact, picking at these bumps can cause scarring.
Keratosis Pilaris Treatment
If you’re wondering how to get rid of keratosis Pilaris there are definitely some big Dos and DON’Ts, such as:
→ DO Switch to Fragrance-Free Products
Sometimes KP can be exacerbated by wearing body lotions, soaps and washes that are fragranced. You may want to make the switch to fragrance-free.
→ DON’T Take Hot Showers
Showering with hot water may feel good, especially on a cold winter day, but hot water is actually very drying to your skin. And KP can be made worse when skin becomes overly dry. Try your best to take lukewarm showers.
→ DO Eat Omega-3 Rich Foods
Focus on foods rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs). Foods high in EFAs include walnuts, flaxseeds, salmon, tuna, and sardines. You may also want to consider taking a fish oil supplement.
→ DON’T Consume Dairy Products
Dairy products are known to trigger inflammation, which in turn can trigger a flair up of keratosis pilaris.
→ DO Use Products Containing Glycolic and Salicylic Acids
Glycolic acid is part of the group of alpha hydroxy acids. Its main function is to help “unglue dead skin cells” from each other for easy exfoliation. That’s important because the last thing you want is dead skin cell buildup on top of your keratin buildup.
The other type of acid group frequently used in skincare products is beta hydroxy acids, and Salicylic acid is part of this group. Derived from willow bark, Salicylic acid is an oil-soluble ingredient. That’s key, because it means this acid can penetrate skin at a deeper level to unclog pores, or in KP’s case, unclog hair follicles.
Look for products that contain one if not both of these acids.