Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is a very common condition, affecting between 50-80% of adolescents and around 40% of adults. It is completely harmless, causing small bumps on the skin. It can last for a long time and usually appears on the arms, thighs and bottom, but can also occur anywhere else on the body. The bumps will usually be red, white, skin colored or darker, may appear better in the summer and can be itchy. But the good news is, there are a number of things that can be done at home to help relieve KP, all of which are completely natural.

What causes keratosis pilaris?

KP happens when hair follicles become blocked with a buildup of dead skin cells and keratin, a natural substance that makes up the hair, skin and nails, causing them to become inflamed and bulge. Unfortunately, the condition is genetic and chronic, but dry skin can make it worse. Diet may contribute to the condition for people who are already predisposed to it, and it can certainly help to relieve symptoms. It’s also believed that the areas of the body affected could be because clothes tend to be tighter in these areas and can rub, causing abnormal keratin production in the hair follicles.

Who is prone to keratosis pilaris?

As mentioned, KP tends to run in families, so if you have anyone in your family with it then you’re more likely to have it too. A link has also been found between KP and people with asthma or eczema, it’s more common in women, and children and adolescents have a higher chance of getting it than adults. People who shave or wax regularly are also more prone as it can trigger or exacerbate KP symptoms.

Eat to treat

Diet plays such a big part in health, so it’s only logical that changing your diet can help to improve symptoms of KP. Due to the link between KP and inflammation, eating a diet rich in antioxidants can make a big difference. This goes hand-in-hand with consuming whole foods that are good sources of other vitamins and minerals, like fruits and vegetables. Increasing vitamin A and D can help too as these both aid skin cell production.

Inflammation can also be minimized by following the elimination diet, where you cut out foods that are known to trigger inflammation, such as gluten, dairy and other allergens. If your symptoms improve you can re-introduce each food group at a time to figure out what the cause is.

Revamp your beauty regime

If you’ve already got KP or you’re at risk of it, there are some things you can do to reduce the chance of it occurring or improve symptoms. Hot showers and baths are known to take moisture out of the skin, so turn the temperature down a bit and don’t spend as long in the water. You should also exfoliate at least once a week with a gentle exfoliator, anything too harsh will make inflammation worse, and moisturize your skin daily. A thin product that has natural-based ingredients will be best to avoid further blocking the follicles.

Use AHA products

AHA stands for alpha-hydroxy acids, which is a common ingredient in acne body products, and is good for treating KP. Lactic acid, salicylic acid and urea are all examples of AHAs. Look for these as an ingredient in a cleanser or body wash. Ideally, you need something mild and gentle, so a product with 2% salicylic acid is ideal. This should help to remove excess skin cells and any build up in hair follicles.

Moisturizers can also contain AHAs and will further help to improve the appearance of the skin. Many of these products can still be completely natural and contain other anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as green tea, soothing plants and sandalwood oil.

Things to avoid

Be sure to avoid perfumed skincare products as these can dry your skin out, even if it’s a moisturizer. Hot baths and showers are also drying for the skin. Don’t use harsh scrubs or exfoliators as these can make inflammation worse. Importantly, never pick, rub or scratch KP bumps as this can further irritate the skin and could lead to scarring that will look and feel a lot worse.

KP is a harmless skin condition but can be itchy and cause the person to feel self-conscious and feel like they need to cover up. Treating symptoms and taking preventative measures can help to manage symptoms, whether it’s through your diet or skincare regime.