Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis Pilaris

Do you have small hard bumps over your arms, thighs or buttock? Does your skin look like chicken skin or goose skin? Do they go away if it’s summer time, but with winter they get worse?  You may have a genetic skin disorder called Keratosis pilaris.  Keratosis pilaris is a skin condition that is not harmful.  It’s the result of keratin protein buildup that then plugs up the hair follicles.  The reason of the keratin buildup is unknown.  Keratosis pilaris is sometimes given the name chicken skin because of the hard light colored bumps that it causes.  The bumps will be hard sometimes white but they can also be red.  You will mostly get this on your arms, thighs or buttocks.  Though sometimes it can occur on your face but that isn’t as common.  This skin condition is common in adolescents.  About fifty to eighty percent of adolescents with have keratosis pilaris.  Then approximately forty percent of adults will have this as well.  It usually will disappear by age thirty.

It’s a genetic disorder so most of the time you can see a trend within families that have this.  People with eczema or other dry skin conditions are more prone to getting Keratosis pilaris.  During the summer months Keratosis pilaris can get better, while in the winter months it may get worse. This is due to the lack of moisture in the air in winter time.  To help with this in your home you can use a humidifier to increase the humidity so that there is more moisture in the air.  

You do not need to see a doctor to be diagnosed for this.  There are no tests or any biopsies to run.   Most likely you will self diagnose or if you go to a doctor they will verify that it is Keratosis pilaris and tell you how to treat it.  Sometimes the bumps can become red and swollen but that is nothing to worry about.  In time they will decrease, just make sure to keep moisturizing.

There are no special treatments for this either.  The main thing you can do to treat it is to moisturize daily. As often as you want, two to three times if possible.  Creamy moisturizers with urea and lactic acid are good.  Urea in topical dermatological products promotes rehydration of skin. Sour cream has lactic acid in it, so does yogurt or buttercream.  You can make a sugar scrub with any of these to rub on your skin to help moisturize and scrub off the dead skin cells that have built up.  Lotions with vitamin A are good too for they promote cell turnover and prevent hair follicles being plugged.  Coconut oil is an easy home remedy.  In its pure form it is a super moisturizer.  You can rub this on after you get out of the bath or shower daily.  You can also make a scrub with coconut oil with either sugar or epsom salt to scrub your skin and moisturize all at the same time.  If you use a scrub be sure to not use it too often or you can actually cause more damage peeling too much skin away.  Another way to unclog your skin pores is to use Apple Cider Vinegar, the astringent properties in the vinegar will help to keep your skin pores unclogged.  

Decreasing the amount of time you are in water will also help.  Taking showers or baths in warm water is better than very hot water.  If you swim a lot in the summers as well you will want to make sure as soon as you are out of the water you moisturize your skin so that it doesn’t get too dry.  When getting out of the bath, shower, or pool make sure to pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it. Leaving a little bit of water moisture after a shower is alright.

To get rid of the bumps try to exfoliate.  You can use a loofah or a sponge to scrub your skin.  Exfoliate regularly for lasting results, you will see a difference after the first few times you really scrub your skin. Baking soda is an excellent exfoliant.  Another way to exfoliate your skin is to uses oatmeal, it will soothe dry itchy skin and the scrubbing your skin with it will whisk away dead skin cells. Epsom salt is very healthy for you in many ways. To help with Keratosis pilaris you can mix it with olive oil to scrub your body with once a week.   

Healthy inside equals healthy outside.  Diet changes can help to treat Keratosis pilaris.  Try and get a lot of the omega 3-fatty acids.  Eat cold water fish such as salmon and tuna.  They contain a lot of omega 3-fatty acids.  If you don’t like to eat fish than try a fish oil supplement.  Boost your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Get at least five servings to keep your digestion good.  Vitamin A and E foods can  help to treat Keratosis pilaris too.  Foods that are high in vitamin A and E are carrots, mangos, pumpkins and green leafy vegetables.  Another supplement to try is Beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene stops the excess production of the keratin protein.  Eating a lot of carrots or drinking carrot juice will also have the same effect as taking a beta-carotene supplement.  Herbs can help boost the body’s immune system which can help to get rid of Keratosis pilaris.  Herbs that are beneficial are calendula, chickweed, burdock, marshmallow, slippery elm, they can help decrease the symptoms of Keratosis pilaris.

The bumps should not cause pain, but they can be itchy.  If they start to itch use a steroid cream to help soothe the itch.  And keep moisturizing too.  

There is a laser treatment that can be used if the Keratosis pilaris is severe enough and the moisturizing and other remedies don’t help.  The laser treatment will be used if there is severe redness and inflammation.  It is not a cure but it may provide relief.  Several sessions may be needed for this laser treatment to work.  It won’t get rid of all your bumps either, but it will lessen the severity.  It is almost better to try and do the home remedies or lotions first, they are healthier and have less side effects.  One laser hair removal treatment may help to treat the symptoms too.  By removing the hair with a high powered laser, it also whisks away the keratin protein that is blocking the hair follicles. Though the laser treatments will have fast results minimizing the bumps and making skin look better, you will still have a vigorous skin regimen you will have to stick to to keep the Keratosis pilaris from coming back.  There are some big cons to picking the laser treatments.  Cost definitely is a big one, and with the possibility of needing multiple sessions you could be spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars.  On top of the cost there is no guarantee that the laser will work or if it does if it will be long lasting.  With any skin treatment you may get redness, itching, or swelling it is a minor temporary side of effect though of the laser treatment.

There are lots of ways to try and treat Keratosis pilaris.  You may have to try many different things to see which one will work for you.  Try something though and stick with it for awhile because it may take awhile before you see any results.  Stopping and switching too soon will just delay finding out what really works.

Clearing Keratosis pilaris will take time.  It will take ongoing maintenance to get it to go away.  Sometimes it will never completely go away.  There will just be moments of time where it is better than other times.  Just keep doing your treatments.  It may take weeks to months before you see any signs of progression in making it better.  Be faithful and do not give up.  If you do get rid of your bumps completely