Everything You Need To Know About Keratosis Pilaris and How To Treat It

Woman applying body lotion to arms to soothe keratosis pilaris

You know those tiny bumps that you might have on the backs of your arms? The ones that won’t go away and are often coupled with random dry patches too? Well, there’s a name for them, Keratosis Pilaris, and while they’re not actually harmful, many people would prefer they weren’t there. So let’s delve into their backstory a little to find out more about them, why they exist and what (if anything) you can do to treat them. 

Firstly though, what is Keratosis Pilaris?  

Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is often an inherited skin disorder. It’s a build-up of keratin (a hair protein) in the opening of the hair follicle that basically just clogs it up and blocks it - making your skin look bumpy. Bonus: your bumpy bits of skin might even come with a little redness surrounding them, or irritation (the joy). KP can often look like Goosebumps too, and many people refer to it as “chicken skin”, because that’s what it can resemble. However, KP doesn’t just appear on the backs of your arms. The front of the thighs is also another popular area for KP, and you might even get them on the sides of your cheeks. 

WHY DO YOU GET KERATOSIS PILARIS? 

The honest truth is that people tend to be genetically pre-disposed to KP and there isn’t much of a cure. Only ways to minimise the way they look/feel. However, please know the intensity of KP can ebb and flow throughout life. This is mainly thanks to hormones or life stages such as pregnancy. However, it’s often said that it can improve as the years go on!

HOW TO TREAT KERATOSIS PILARIS? 

If you have Keratosis Pilaris, you might think that scrubbing at the backs of your arms or thighs to try and exfoliate the skin to get rid of it is a great idea - but it’s not. So please don’t. This will definitely make things worse.

Instead, try: 

A gentle body cleanser in the shower: something fragrance free and full of emollient ingredients that might help hydrate your skin and stop it feeling so dry.  

Use a chemical exfoliant such as lactic acid: which is a great and gentle, alpha hydroxy acid to start using on your body. 

You can look for it in a body moisturiser or you could even use your Exfoliating Swipeys on areas with KP. Lactic acid, should be tolerable on your body for most skin types and very effective at exfoliating sans irritation. Alternatively, you can use a gentle AHA in your body cleanser instead. 

Don’t forget to moisturise! Hydrated skin = healthy skin. If you use a swipey don’t forget to lock in hydration with a nourishing and gentle body moisturiser over the top. Ps. don’t forget the best way to moisturise your body, is post shower while your skin is still damp

And if you’re still stuck, be sure to keep your eye out for a few extra ingredients to use: 

Urea: breaks down the protein in the outer layer of skin. 

Lactic acid: BFF with urea and both work synergistically. 

Glycolic acid: is a stronger alpha-hydroxy acid and may also be beneficial. 

Salicylic acid: is a beta-hydroxy acid and will be best at getting deep within the pores. 

Retinoid: depending on the severity a doctor or dermatologist may prescribe a retinoid to help.

FINAL NOTE:  it is best to avoid long/hot showers – yes it is one of the finer things in life, but it can strip your skin of its natural oils and dry it out. I know this bit of info sucks and I hate breaking this type of news to you, but it has to be done. 

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