Have you ever run your hands across your arms and noticed small, rough bumps that look like patches of goosebumps? Or, on your back, thighs, and/or cheeks, it may not be acne. You might be experiencing keratosis pilaris. Although they appear similar, unlike acne, these small bumps are not filled with bacteria and pus; however, they can be itchy and irritating.
What is Keratosis Pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris, also known as KP, is a harmless skin condition that affects up to 40 percent of the population. You may have heard it referred to as "chicken skin" or "strawberry skin" because it's characterized by dry, rough patches and small (red or brown) bumps depending on your skin tone. Keratosis pilaris most commonly affects babies and teenagers and usually disappears by age 30, but many people struggle with it well into adulthood.
What causes Keratosis Pilaris?
Like acne, keratosis pilaris is an inherited disorder of the hair follicles. It occurs when the body overproduces keratin and forms hard plugs on the skin's surface. Doctors and other skincare professionals aren't sure what causes this problem, other than genetics or other skin conditions in which this may be a symptom.KP is not harmless or contagious, but it can sometimes impact your self-esteem. Although KP cannot be cured, here are a few things you can do today to help reduce flare-ups and improve your skin's appearance.
Lifestyle Changes that will help your Keratosis Pilaris:
Invest in a humidifier- low humidity can affect KP. Humidifiers restore moisture into the air to prevent moisture loss from the skin's surface. These are especially helpful in the winter when the air is dry, and KP symptoms are usually worse.
Take warm but not hot water showers- using hot to cold water for long periods can worsen your KP. Hot water can strip your skin of its oils and dry it out, aggravating your KP. Stick with lukewarm showers to help keep your skin's protective barrier intact.
Apply a thin layer of vaseline or Aquaphor before you go swimming- Swimming in pools full of chlorine can be extremely irritating to your KP more than usual because chlorine can be a major irritant causing it to become more dry and itchy. Vaseline will create a protective layer.
Use fragrance-free products and laundry detergents- Many of today's skincare products and laundry detergents contain harsh, irritating ingredients that can worsen KP. To keep things simple, I recommend using a free & clear laundry detergent, ditch fabric softer, and dryer sheets.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water- lack of hydration is one of KP's biggest triggers. Drinking plenty of water will hydrate your body so that your skin is moisturized and balanced.
Whether you have KP on your face or body, keeping your skin hydrated and exfoliated is key to helping the appearance of keratosis pilaris. Make sure you don't over-exfoliate. Highly abrasive exfoliants and vigorous scrubbing can cause irritation, damage your skin, and worsen the condition. Work the scrub onto your skin softly using a gentle circular motion. If you have KP on your face, I recommend working with chemical exfoliates such as AHA's or BHA's. The skin on your face is thinner and more delicate than the rest of your body.
Products and treatments that will help clear your Keratosis Pilaris:
If you're experiencing KP on your face, I recommend:
Cleanser- Mandelic Wash
Serum- 5% Mandelic or 8% Mandelic
Moisturizer- Clearderma or Cran-Peptide
If you're experiencing KP on your body, I recommend:
Wash- Mandelic Scrub or Antioxidant Scrub
Serum- 8% Mandelic or 11% Mandelic
Moisturizer- Clearderma or Cran-Peptide
Although acne and keratosis pilaris and acne appear similar, their treatments and causes are very different. Remember, there is no cure for keratosis pilaris, but it can be controlled like acne. With the proper amount of exfoliation and moisturizing, you can help exfoliate the buildup that causes the bumps, so your skin appears and feels supple and soft. Keratosis Pilaris can be difficult to treat, so it is important to stay consistent with your treatment to maintain results and keep your skin as smooth and clear as possible. Even if you've been struggling with KP for years, it's not too late to start treating it now.