How To Manage Keratosis Pilaris (KP)
Do you have those small, hard bumps on your skin that never seem to go away? Don't worry, you're not alone- Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is an incredibly common skin condition that affects nearly 40% of adults.
It typically manifests as small, hard bumps, usually surrounded by red areas of skin, on the upper arms, legs, or buttocks and in young children, the bumps may also be present on the cheeks. It can look like goose bumps or the skin of a plucked chicken- others mistake the bumps for small pimples.
Whist KP cannot be "cured" or "treated", there are ways to manage it to reduce its appearance! Read on to learn more.
Causes of Keratosis Pilaris
KP is a genetic skin condition characterised by tiny bumps and dry, rough patches. It is caused by extra keratin in your skin (the same building block for hair, skin and nails), leading to dead skin cells plugging hair follicles. The plug can also trigger inflammation in the skin, which is what causes the redness around each hair follicle.
KP is most commonly found on the arms, legs, and thighs. KP is a harmless skin condition. It just isn't amazing to look at. It may also cause itchiness and irritation if there is constant friction between your skin and clothes.
Why do we have it?
Despite how prevalent KP is, and that it tends to run in families, it's unknown why some people experience it and others don't. Keratosis Pilaris usually begins early in life. Fewer adults have it because the condition tends to get better over time. It is more common in those with a history of eczema, asthma or hay fever, extremely dry skin or having a close relative with the condition.
While KP is usually asymptomatic, it is often worse in the winter and less noticeable in the summer. Arid climates and dry skin worsen KP as skin cells are more adherent and shed less frequently when they are dry. Higher humidity levels and sunlight are believed to help with controlling KP.
How can I manage Keratosis Pilaris?
If you don't like the look of your KP, there are some techniques you can try to manage it at home. Though the condition can't be cured, self-care treatments can help to minimise bumps, itching, and irritation.
1. Exfoliate regularly
When you exfoliate your skin, you remove the dead skin cells from the surface.
Regular exfoliation with the CheekyGlo Exfoliating Glove can help improve the appearance of the skin. Dermatologists recommend gently removing dead skin with tools like these to help minimise the appearance of these bumps.
The CheekyGlo Exfoliating Glove helps scrub away excess dead skin and dirt, leaving the skin cleaner, smoother, and softer. This in turn reduces the likeliness of plugged hair follicles, helping reduce the look of KP on your skin! The best part is that you don't need to use extra products for this easy-to-use tool, you just need to add water! Just remember to gently scrub your skin, as skin with KP can be prone to sensitivity.
2. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
To manage KP, moisture is key, especially when the temperatures drop and air becomes more arid. Anything that dries out skin can make KP more noticeable. When looking for lotions and creams to slather on, a combination of humectant, emollient, and occlusive ingredients make for the most effective moisturisers. Remember to hydrate your skin after every shower and in-between showers when skin feels dry.
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Don't forget to hydrate after with the CheekyGlo Juicy Peach Body Oil! This will keep skin moisturised, reducing the look of KP!
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- Vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation and speed up cell regeneration.
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Extra Tips and Advice
You’ll also need to take some precautions to prevent flare-ups.
Opt for laser hair removal
Shaving or waxing skin with keratosis pilaris can cause more bumps. Laser hair removal can remove the hair without causing a flare-up. If there’s a lot of thick hair in the affected areas, this might help. The laser targets melanin in the hair follicle, converting into heat that damages the follicle and prevents future hair growth and since keratosis pilaris affects the skin around the hair follicle, laser hair removal isn’t exactly a treatment for eliminating KP entirely but it may help smooth things out a little by stripping your skin of pore-blocking keratin.
Take short showers and baths
To prevent drying your skin, take short baths or showers and use warm rather than scalding hot water. Also, limit bathing to once a day to reduce exposure to hot water!
If you want, you can try cold showers! These also help strengthen immunity, improve circulation, regulate body temperature, improve movement through the lymph system and can help alleviate depression. In addition to that, cold water tightens pores and contributes to detoxification, so gradually switching from warm to cool showers can do wonder for your health. If cold showers are too unbearable, try ending your normal showers with 10 seconds of cold water!
Use a mild cleanser
Bar soaps can dry your skin, use a gentle one. There are certain soaps and in-shower washes that can help and the best soaps for keratosis pilaris contain glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and/or lactic acid. A soap or cleanser with chemical exfoliants combined with physical exfoliation can be helpful, too, to further aid in getting rid of dead skin buildup, as can using a body brush or exfoliating glove while you’re in the shower.
Try to avoid ingredients that have the potential to block your pores, such as shea butter, olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax, or soy oil, and use shaving gels instead of creams.
Skip the self-tanner or tan correctly
Fake tan is a firm favourite among KP sufferers as it often helps to even out the skin tone, but it does come with its down sides. Usually self-tanners tend to make the bumps more obvious rather than hide them, if you don't do it correctly!
If a fake tan is highlighting skin texture, it is too drying for your skin and you need something that hydrates your skin rather than dehydrates it, so choose one that will moisturize your skin. Also, there are a few reasons why you should shower and exfoliate/wax the day before your spray tan.
This is because after you have showered your skin is very dry and your pores are open.
Your PH level of the skin has been stripped away from the soaps, flannel, scrubber and hot water. Your body needs time for the pores to close and the natural oils of your body to return to ensure a great spray tan.
So don't forget to exfoliate a day before or, if you don't want to risk having a very uneven and blotchy looking result, just stay away from self tanners!
Plug in a humidifier when the air feels dry
The condition may worsen when there is low humidity, especially in winter, that’s because the cold air dries out your skin. Try using a humidifier in your bedroom to help reduce the redness and rough skin patches associated with keratosis pilaris.
Using a humidifier in your bedroom where you spend the most time in your home at night can help keep symptoms under control. With humid air circulating through a room, your body can absorb some of that moisture into your skin, nasal passages and throat to keep you healthy and feeling great. By using a humidifier on a regular basis, you’ll likely notice that your skin will feel less dry and tight, less itching around irritated skin from keratosis pilaris and less peeling from sensitive sunburned skin. Your pores won’t get clogged and you’ll likely breathe easier.
For stubborn or more extensive KP, we suggest seeing your dermatologist
A dermatologist can create a treatment plan that addresses your concerns.
Relieve the itch and dryness: A creamy moisturizer can soothe the itch and dryness. Most moisturizing creams used to treat keratosis pilaris contain one of the following ingredients:
Diminish the bumpy appearance: To diminish the bumps and improve your skin’s texture, dermatologists often recommend exfoliating. Your dermatologist may recommend that you gently remove dead skin with an exfoliating glove or at-home microdermabrasion kit. Your dermatologist may also prescribe a medicine that will remove dead skin cells. Medicine that can help often contains one of the following ingredients:
- Alpha hydroxyl acid
- Glycolic acid
- Lactic acid
- A retinoid (adapalene, retinol, tazarotene, tretinoin)
- Salicylic acid
Lasers may work when moisturizer and medicine fail: A laser or light treatment may be used to treat keratosis pilaris.
Your dermatologist may recommend one type of laser to reduce the swelling and redness. Another type of laser may improve your skin’s texture and reduce discoloration, including the brown spots that may appear when the bumps clear. To get the best results from the laser treatments, your dermatologist may add a few microdermabrasion sessions to your treatment plan.
Adjust your diet
A great way to begin healing your body is to make healthy lifestyle changes and eat a balanced diet. Zinc, in particular, can help keep skin healthy. Good sources of zinc include oysters, beef, lamb, chicken, pumpkin seeds, spinach, chickpeas, coconut, spirulina, cashews, sunflower seeds, beans, tempeh, and dark chocolate/cacao.
Magnesium—found in whole wheat, spinach, nuts, quinoa, dark chocolate, and black beans—may help as well.
Did you find this blog post helpful? Are you going to try all these tips? Share it to help others who struggle with KP and don't know how to manage it.