Even if you don’t suffer from Keratosis Pilaris (KP) yourself, chances are you know someone who does. That’s because KP is one of the most common skin disorders. Some sources say it affects up to 40% of the population. The condition is characterized by red bumps or “chicken skin,” usually on the backs of arms, thighs, buttocks, or face. While KP isn’t a serious skin condition and doesn’t cause pain, it can be a chronic, unsightly, and embarrassing problem for many people. While we haven’t yet discovered a real cure for KP, there are several treatments that can reduce the symptoms and restore skin smoothness. Read on for a few of my recommendations to help clear up chicken skin!
What Causes KP?
At the heart of treating KP is understanding what it is. While dermatologists still aren’t sure what causes KP (genetics are probably to blame!), we do understand that it begins when the skin produces too much keratin. Excess keratin begins to build up inside hair follicles, preventing the hair from pushing its way out of the skin. This blockage creates dry, scaly bumps that may look painful, red, and inflamed but generally aren’t bothersome.
KP is exacerbated by dry skin and doesn’t respond well to physical exfoliation, which tends to just further inflame the condition. While it may be tempting to buff away all those little bumps, avoid using body scrubs and exfoliating mitts, which will irritate the skin further.
The key to eliminating KP is to soften and remove the excess keratin that’s causing the bumps. While physical scrubs can cause irritation, gentle body peels safely dissolve the protein plugs without injuring the skin. I recommend my TCA Multi-Acid Body Peel to my clients with KP. It contains lactic acid—a moisturizing and exfoliating acid that dermatologists often recommend to those suffering from KP. It safely exfoliates the skin without worsening existing dryness. Use once a week to maintain results.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
To prevent new bumps, you need to keep your skin moist. Use a moisturizer rich in alpha hydroxy acids, lactic acid, salicylic acid or urea to keep the skin soft and exfoliated. If your symptoms do not improve with regular moisturizing with an OTC lactic acid cream, you may want to see a dermatologist. A derm can prescribe a retinoid cream like Retin-A or Tazorac to clear up your skin. But because of the drying and irritating effect of prescription retinoid creams, I wholeheartedly suggest you try over the counter creams first.
The key to treating your KP is consistency. Your body will still produce too much keratin—peels and creams treat the problem, but don’t solve it. Be diligent in your peel and moisturizer regimen for best results.