How to get rid of your Keratosis Pilaris

Monday, June 8, 2015

I have been dealing with a skin condition called Keratosis Pilaris for the past 15 years. When my symptoms first appeared, it was particularly frustrating for me to deal with, as I had always been able to troubleshoot my own skincare woes based on professional experience. My tried and true products and remedies didn't address this condition, which affects an estimated forty percent of Americans.

Having Keratosis Pilaris can have a negative impact on self esteem. In the summer, I like to wear sundresses and sleeveless tops. When the condition was at its worst, I found myself shopping for shirts that would cover my upper arms. I was very self conscious. Well meaning friends and family would point out that I had a "red rash" on my arms and asked if I was aware of it. Of course I was. It is something I could see in my mirror each day and planned my outfits around.
I went to my dermatologist, who advised me to use a lotion with lactic acid. Unfortunately, this popular lotion also has the strong odor of ammonia and parabens. After a few weeks, I only saw a slight improvement, so I gave up. I spent that entire summer covering my arms because the red bumps were so noticeable.
Let's take an in-depth look at this condition and see what can be done to treat it.

What is Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis Pilaris is a common skin condition that causes very small white or red bumps to form on arms, cheeks, thighs and bottom. They are painless and tend to resemble a rash. People sometimes call it "chicken skin" and the bumps look very much like red goosebumps. The texture in the affected area tends to be quite rough and dry, worsening in the winter.
It is more common in children and those under thirty. My son, age 11, has it on his cheeks. Mine only affects my upper arms. While I am over thirty, this is less common with age.

What causes Keratosis Pilaris?

You have no doubt heard of keratin. Keratin is the protein that protects the skin, hair and nails from infection. It is fibrous. Sometimes too much keratin builds up. It ends up clogging the hair follicles, forming a plug. The result? Rough, scaly bumps. It is that simple. There is nothing that you are doing wrong to create this problem. Even those who are extremely conscientious about their skincare routines can still have Keratosis Pilaris.

Treating Keratosis Pilaris

Where I went wrong is when I assumed I would care for this skin condition the same way I would any other dry or rough spots -- through applying a scrub. It was a logical choice. When you apply a manual exfoliant like a scrub, you are sloughing off dry skin. You cannot slough off Keratosis Pilaris, though. When you use a scrub, it may end up making the condition worse. I found my own skin to become more irritated, which made the red bumps more noticeable.
Exfoliation is key, but using the right type for this condition is a must.  The best skincare treatment for Keratosis Pilaris is a topical exfoliant that you do not rinse off. Products containing lactic acid, alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid are your best treatment. The dermatologist gold standard is BHA. 
Experts agree that the worst thing you can do for your KP is harsh exfoliation. You risk scarring by doing this.

Topical Salicylic Acid (BHA) is the single most effective way to treat Keratosis Pilaris

Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid) is a highly effective Keratosis Pilaris treatment. BHA has the ability to get into the pores and help release the congestion. Applying a BHA treatment daily will help clear most cases of Keratosis Pilaris gradually over several weeks. Patience is key. If you do not see results after only a couple of days of use, please do not give up. It takes time to clear the blockage.

Glycolic acids (AHA) are viable options, too. However, the ONLY way to reach into the pores is with Salicylic (BHA).

Products I recommend


Spotless from Perfectly Posh contains 2% salicylic acid, aloe vera & witch hazel and comes in handy pads. Just $16 and these rival the most expensive brands.




Exuviance Clear & Smooth are also exfoliating pads. These are dermatologist grade and combine 2% salicylic acid with mandelic and benzelic acids for maximum exfoliation. When I worked as a skincare therapist for the company, it was a client favorite. I saw many with greatly improved self esteem after just a few uses of these pads!



Another sound product for Keratosis Pilaris is something that is in my shower right now: Emmaus Smiling Beads Body Wash. In my view, this is a MUST HAVE PRODUCT if you are suffering from Keratosis Pilaris. Why? This AMAZING body wash features both glycolic AND salicylic acid. It also contains jojoba oil, aloe vera, coffee, hibiscus & more. This is a new to me product and every time I get in the shower these past few weeks, I cannot wait to lather up because it DOES have a noticeable impact!


Paula's Choice Resist Weightless Body Treatment 2% BHA is another product I highly recommend. This lightweight lotion is non-irritating, fragrance free and keeps the skin nicely hydrated.





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