Keratosis pilaris is a skin condition that causes tiny bumps and dry, rough patches on the skin, usually on the thighs, upper arms, buttocks, and cheeks. Keratosis pilaris is a common, harmless skin problem.
The condition may worsen when there is low humidity and skin tends to be drier. Keratosis pilaris is caused by the buildup of keratin, a hard protein that protects your skin from infection and harmful substances, according to Mayo Clinic.
When keratin builds up, it forms a scaly plug that obstructs the opening to the hair follicle. It’s common for several plugs to form at once, leading to rough and bumpy skin.
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Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can get rid of keratosis pilaris.
Exfoliate to Reveal Smooth Skin
Gently exfoliating regularly is one of the best ways to get rid of keratosis pilaris. Removing the dead skin cells from your skin’s surface opens up the plugged hair follicles and reveals smoother skin.
You can mechanically or chemically exfoliate. If you decide to mechanically exfoliate, be sure to use a washcloth or loofah to gently remove dead skin cells. If you decide to exfoliate with a chemical peel, use one that won’t dry out your skin.
Moisturizing Keeps the Bumps Away
After your bath or shower, when your skin is still damp, apply a moisturizer. Mayo Clinic suggests using a moisturizer containing petroleum jelly, lanolin, or glycerin because these ingredients trap moisture and soothe dry skin.
Thicker moisturizers work the best. Apply moisturizer to the affected areas of your skin several times throughout the day.
Remove Keratin with a Keratolyic Agent
A keratolyic agent removes the keratin that blocks the opening of the hair follicle. Products that contain urea, lactic acid, and glycerin all remove keratin.
These products can be applied daily to prevent and treat keratosis pilaris. Additionally, because these products are gentle, they are a great option for anyone who has sensitive skin.
Soothe Your Skin with Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is great for treating many skin conditions, including keratosis pilaris. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties in coconut oil help reduce the inflammation and redness caused by keratosis pilaris. Coconut oil is also a great moisturizer.
To use coconut oil to treat and prevent keratosis pilaris, mix equal parts coconut oil and apple cider vinegar with a teaspoon of honey. Apply the mixture to the affected areas of your skin, and allow it to dry. For best results, reapply the mixture to your skin daily.
Topical Retinoids Unclog Hair Follicles
Related to vitamin A, topical retinoids, help follicles from becoming clogged. Topical retinoids include products containing the ingredients tazarotene and tretinoin.
However, topical retinoids may cause skin irritation or redness and peeling. WebMD advises that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid using topical retinoids.
Dry brushing helps remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. Use a natural bristle brush, and brush each part of your body in long sweeping movements.
Brush yourself gently so that you don’t end up irritating your skin. After you dry brush, take a shower or bath as usual, and pat yourself dry. Apply a moisturizer after bathing.
This YouTube video shows you how to dry brush your skin properly. The video also details the benefits of dry brushing and provides tips on how to clean your brush.
Scented products can make your keratosis pilaris worse. Avoid scented body products, such as perfume, body washes, lotions, creams, and soaps. Use mild soaps made with natural ingredients.
When you bathe, limit your bath or shower time to 10 minutes to avoid dehydrating your skin. Showering with hot water can also exacerbate your keratosis pilaris. Shower with lukewarm water instead.
Gently Exfoliate and Moisturize with Oatmeal
Oatmeal exfoliates and locks moisture into your skin, making it a great home remedy for keratosis pilaris. You can add oatmeal to your bath or use it to exfoliate your skin to reap its benefits.
To make an oatmeal bath, add two cups of finely ground oatmeal to a lukewarm bath. Soak in the bath for 15 to 20 minutes. Pat yourself dry with a clean towel, and apply moisturizer to your skin.
To make an oatmeal scrub you can exfoliate your skin with, mix one tablespoon of oatmeal with enough water to form a thick paste. Gently massage the paste into the affected areas of your skin.
Leave the paste on for 10 to 15 minutes before you rinse it off with lukewarm water. Using this oatmeal scrub will help prevent hair follicles from becoming plugged.
Keep Your Skin from Drying Out with a Humidifier
Keratosis pilaris tends to get worse during the 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.
Chase the Bumps Away with Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Alpha hydroxy acids exfoliate your skin. Lactic acid, glycolic acid, citric acid, salicylic acid and malic acid are examples of alpha hydroxy acids. Glycolic acid and salicylic acid are the best alpha hydroxy acids for keratosis pilaris.
Use a product with a 10% concentration of salicylic or glycolic acid. It’s important to apply the product daily to see and maintain visible results.
Do You Have Keratosis Pilaris?
Though keratosis pilaris is not a dangerous medical condition, the bumps and red patches it causes can make you feel self-conscious and embarrassed.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do, such as exfoliating, moisturizing, using a humidifier, dry brushing, and using topical retinoids to get rid of keratosis pilaris. You don’t need to use all of these techniques to see results.
Choose a few things from the list, and incorporate them into your routine. When you see improvement in your skin condition, you’ll be glad you did.