How to Take Care of Keratosis Pilaris
If you’ve ever run your hands across your arms and noticed small, harmless, sandpaper-like bumps covering your skin, you probably have what is called keratosis pilaris. Unlike goose bumps, these often red bumps do not go away. They are the result of a buildup of keratin, which is responsible for protecting your skin from infection and harmful matter. The excess keratin builds up to create a rough plug, blocking the openings to your hair follicles. It’s unclear why the keratin begins to build up in the first place, though it is sometimes associated with genetic diseases and different skin conditions, like atopic dermatitis. It does run in families and is considered a genetic disorder. Drier skin can exacerbate keratosis pilaris.
Keratosis Pilaris : What It Is and How It Manifests
Keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition and is generally considered innocuous, though those living with it often find it frustrating and dislike the look and feel of the rough little bumps. Sometimes called chicken skin, the bumps are generally small, and can be without discoloration, or—depending on your skin tone—pinkish or red, or brownish black. The bumps can become irritated, making them look much like a rash, and can also be accompanied by rough, dry patches. You are at an increased risk of developing keratosis pilaris if you have asthma, eczema, hay fever, or are overweight. Other skin conditions and medications can also make you more likely to develop this condition.
Keratosis pilaris is most common on the upper arms, thighs, cheeks, and buttocks, but can be found anywhere on the body except the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Keratosis pilaris is most commonly found in children and affects between 50 to 80% of all adolescents. It can become worse at puberty, but then it often improves with age. Approximately 40% of adults continue to struggle with this skin condition. The great news is, keratosis pilaris often clears up on its own, without treatment, after several years. Symptoms can improve and worsen with the seasons, and drier skin in the winter often makes symptoms more severe. Regular swimming in a pool can also aggravate keratosis pilaris. There is no cure or prevention for the condition, but it can be treated.
Easy Remedies for Keratosis Pilaris
Before you seek medical care, try some home remedies to see if you can improve your keratosis pilaris on your own. You may not be able to completely eliminate it, but you may see improvement if you take the right measures. First, make sure that you avoid overly hot water when taking showers, baths, and or washing your face. Hot water and extended bathing time actually draws essential oils and moisture from your skin, causing your skin to feel dry and irritated after washing. Try to use warm water instead, and limit bathing to about ten minutes. If you live in a drier climate or run an air conditioner regularly, using a humidifier in your home can also be helpful for maintaining your skin’s ideal moisture level.
Similarly, using cleansers and soaps that are overly harsh and drying can further aggravate skin irritation. Use cleansers that are gentle on your skin and won’t cause an adverse reaction.
The Lancer Method for Keratosis Pilaris Treatment
While exfoliation is an effective treatment, highly abrasive exfoliants and vigorous scrubbing can cause irritation and can, in fact, damage your skin and worsen the condition. Try a polish that is gentle enough not to scratch your skin, and work softly, polishing in a circular motion. For the skin on your face, The Method: Polish Blemish Control effectively uses salicylic acid—a beta hydroxy acid—to remove dead skin cells and keep pores and hair follicles clear of buildup. The pumpkin and pomegranate enzymes help prepare the surface of the skin for sloughing, without abrasion or irritation. After gently polishing your skin, pat it dry with a clean towel, and avoid rubbing your skin with the towel, which disrupts the vital moisture barrier.
The Method: Cleanse Blemish Control cleanses the skin of your face with natural exfoliators in a refreshing gel. The combination of salicylic acid and tea tree oil in the cleanser helps maintain clear pores and follicles without over-drying. Lilac stem cell compound also aids in keeping pores and follicles clear of buildup by absorbing excess oil.
Apply a moisturizer like The Method: Nourish Blemish Control right after cleansing while your skin is still damp in order to seal in hydration. Depending on your moisturizer, the severity of your keratosis pilaris, and the active ingredients in your skincare, you may need to moisturize several times a day. Make sure you wear loose, breathable clothing that won’t create friction and further aggravate your keratosis pilaris.
Regardless of whether your keratosis pilaris is on your face or body, your dermatologist will likely recommend beginning to treat your condition by moisturizing your skin regularly and exfoliating before suggesting you use any sort of medicated cream. Your skincare should contain exfoliating agents that help your skin slough dead skin cells and maintain clear pores and follicles for smoother skin. Begin with The Method: Body Polish, which contains uniform quartz crystals to gently polish without abrading the skin, and salicylic acid, which has anti-microbial properties and softens the excess keratin that clogs the hair follicles and causes the bumps. These two ingredients work together to go deeper to clear follicles of buildup, resulting in softer, smoother skin. Follow up with The Method: Body Cleanser, which also contains salicylic acid, in addition to glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid. These highly effective acids cleanse the pores thoroughly and encourage cell turnover, while reducing the production of sebum. Watermelon seed oil helps keep your skin properly hydrated. The final step for the skin on your body is The Method: Body Nourish, which uses a powerful combination of glycolic acid and Hylaplex®, a moisturizing compound that provides lasting hydration for your skin. These active ingredients work together to create skin that is smoother, softer, and perfectly moisturized.
If regular moisturizing doesn’t do the trick for your keratosis pilaris, your dermatologist may suggest medicated creams containing higher levels of alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, or urea. These ingredients help polish and eliminate the dead skin that contributes to clogged pores, as well as aiding in the hydration and softening of your skin. These ingredients are often available over-the-counter in skincare products like The Lancer Method, but prescription strength options are available as well. Depending on the sensitivity of your skin and the strength of the acid you’re using, you may experience redness, stinging, or irritation on your skin. Speak with your dermatologist to determine the ideal strength for your skin.
Advanced Treatments for Keratosis Pilaris
Additional skin treatments like the Retexturizing Treatment with glycolic acid can help exfoliate your skin to reveal the smoother, suppler skin beneath. However, be make sure you talk to your dermatologist before proceeding with more advanced treatments.
Finally, if none of these treatments are sufficient for clearing your keratosis pilaris, your dermatologist may choose to prescribe an ammonium lactate cream or corticosteroids. For more extreme cases, a laser or light treatment can be used to treat keratosis pilaris as well. Shaving and waxing body hair can aggravate the condition, so your dermatologist may recommend laser hair removal as well. However, these treatments can have lasting side effects and may require multiple treatments, so it is beneficial to try to manage your symptoms with other remedies first. Only a dermatologist can determine the best treatment for you and your skin.
Be aware that no matter how you manage your symptoms, treatment can improve the feel and look of your skin, but as soon as you stop treating and moisturizing, the condition is likely to return. Keratosis pilaris often continues for years, so once you’ve found an effective method of treating it, be diligent about consistently moisturizing and treating your skin properly to keep your skin as smooth and clear as possible.
Keratosis pilaris is harmless, but it can be stubborn and is a frustrating and unsightly condition. Luckily, with proper skincare and consistent treatment, you can polish away the buildup that causes the bumps so skin appears and feels supple and soft. Even if you’ve suffered from keratosis pilaris for years, touchable skin is still within your reach.
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Alai, Ally N. MD, FAAD. “Keratosis Pilaris.” Medscape.
“Keratosis pilaris.” American Academy of Dermatology.
Lancer, Harold MD. Younger: The Breakthrough Anti-Aging Method for Radiant Skin. 59