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How to get rid of Keratosis Pilaris

How to get rid of Keratosis Pilaris

Do you see rough patches on your skin that look like small acne bumps? If yes, you should know about Keratosis pilaris and how to get rid of it.

What is Keratosis Pilaris?

As you might make out now that Keratosis pilaris is a skin disease which leaves rough patches and acne-like bumps on your skin. These skin patches can be generally seen on the arms, thighs, cheeks and buttocks. Certain rare variants of keratosis pilaris can also be seen on eyebrows, face and scalp, or whole of the body. So, what do they look like apart from small bumps and how do they feel? They are generally white in color but can sometimes be red too. While you do not feel any discomfort like itching or pain, you may not like the very appearance of these bumps on your skin that are a little difficult to treat. In certain cases though, the Keratosis pilaris bumps may become swollen and cause scarring, particularly on face.  They might become worse in winters, when there is less humidity and the skin is prone to get drier. Most often, keratosis pilaris disappears on its own or with the help of certain prescription drugs and home remedies.

What Causes Keratosis Pilaris?

There is a hard protein called keratin on our skin which protects the skin from external substances and infections. When this keratin builds up in an unusual way, it results into keratosis pilaris. The keratin buildup forms many scaly plugs on the skin that block the hair follicle openings. These scaly plugs over the skin looks like patches of rough, bumpy skin. The cause for keratin buildup is not known yet. However, it might be linked to certain genetic disorders or other skin conditions like atopic dermatitis.

Children and adolescents, women, patients having eczema or ichthyosis (thick, dry scaly skin) and

people of Celtic origin suffer more from keratosis pilaris. It is more common in childhood and adolescence. It usually gets cured on its own as the person reaches the age of 30 or so.

How to Manage Keratosis Pilaris?

As keratosis pilaris doesn’t need specific treatment in most of the cases, certain self care measures are enough to improve the condition of your skin.

  • Use a skin product that doesn’t dry out your skin. For example, instead of soaps, use a cleanser that doesn’t contain soapy chemicals. Dry skin worsens the condition of keratosis pilaris.
  • Keep your skin moisturized. As dry skin worsens the condition of keratosis pilaris, use moisturizers and emollients to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Gently exfoliate your skin. This helps in eliminating the keratin buildup. However, don’t be too harsh. Do this gently with the help of exfoliating foam or pumice stone when you take bath. When skin is wet, it is easy to exfoliate gently.
  • Avoid hot baths. Hot water makes your skin drier and thus you may experience the worst form of keratosis pilaris after such hot bath. If needed, like in winters, use lukewarm water for bath.
  • Never spend too much of time under shower. The less you remain in water, better it is for your skin condition. Water always makes skin drier.
  • Use humidifier at home so that the air remains moist and thus prevent your skin from getting drier.

What are the Treatments for Keratosis Pilaris?

As keratosis pilaris has become too common, you can find a variety of exfoliants, creams etc. that claim to treat keratosis pilaris. You may select some of them, though wisely. Here’s what you need to have.


We have already seen that exfoliating skin can help manage keratosis pilaris better as it effectively removes dead skin cells from the skin. If you consider using commercially available exfoliants, go for creams having the following ingredients:

  • Alpha-hydroxy acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Salicylic acid
  • Urea

As they are all acids, they might lead to redness or a slight burning of skin. Therefore, if you have sensitive skin, avoid using them. Do not use them on the skin of young children as well. In such cases, you can depend on home remedies for keratosis pilaris.

Topical Retinoids

Vitamin A is known to prevent forming of skin plugs that might close down the hair follicles. Retinoids are a category of chemical compounds that are vitamers of vitamin A or are chemically related to vitamin A. Therefore, topical retinoid creams can help cure keratosis pilaris.

However, topical retinoids, as its side effect, may irritate your skin or lead to redness or peeling of skin. If so, discontinue using such products. Pregnant or nursing women, in any case, should avoid using topical retinoids. At least, they should talk to their doctor before considering using them.

Laser Treatment

When creams and lotions and even the management of keratosis pilaris don’t seem to work, you can think of laser treatment. But it is only for treating severe redness and inflammation due to keratosis pilaris.

In fact, home remedies are better when it comes to deal with keratosis pilaris. Natural ingredients are almost harmless without any side effects (only when you don’t apply anything that doesn’t suit your skin).

Home Remedies for Keratosis Pilaris

Here is the natural ways to get rid of keratosis pilaris- the home remedies!

Baking Soda Exfoliant for Keratosis Pilaris

As we have seen earlier, exfoliating your skin helps manage keratosis pilaris effectively. So, why not use the all natural baking soda to exfoliate your skin and get rid of keratin buildup! It will remove all your dead skin cells and unplug the clogged skin to help you get rid of keratosis pilaris.

Get this:

  • Baking soda- 2-3 tbsp
  • Water- enough to make paste

Do this:

  • Add water to baking soda to get a paste like consistency.
  • Apply this to your affected skin.
  • Rub gently for few minutes, 4-5 minutes, to be precise.
  • Wash off with water.
  • Repeat daily or 2-3 times a week, depending upon the severity of your skin condition.
  • Don’t forget to moisturize your skin after exfoliating it with baking soda because this ingredient also tends to dry your skin.

Coconut Oil for Keratosis Pilaris

Coconut oil is one of the best remedies for keratosis pilaris. Lauric acid present in coconut oil helps break down the keratin build up. Not only this, because coconut oil has anti bacterial and anti inflammatory properties, you find relief from redness as well get protected against any infection. What more, coconut oil is an excellent moisturizing agent too and thus keeps your skin hydrated.

Get this:

  • Coconut oil
  • Apple cider vinegar or ACV (optional)- 2-3 tbsp
  • Water (only when using ACV)- half a cup

Do this:

  • Exfoliate your affected skin area using an exfoliating agent (you can use baking soda as mentioned in the previous remedy).
  • After exfoliating the skin, pat it dry.
  • Take some coconut oil and apply this to your affected area of skin.
  • Rub it gently but thoroughly for few minutes until it gets absorbed into the skin.
  • That’s all.
  • You can apply coconut oil as many times as you like.
  • If you want to make this remedy a little more effective, use apple cider vinegar as well.
  • Take the ACV and dilute it with water.
  • Wash your keratosis pilaris affected skin with this solution.
  • You may also like to soak a cotton in this solution and rub the skin with this cotton.
  • Now apply coconut oil and rub it gently.

Coconut Oil- Sugar Scrub for Keratosis Pilaris

If exfoliating first and then applying coconut oil seems to be too much work for you, you can even cut down the steps by making a scrub using the oil and sugar. This way, you will get all the benefits of coconut oil in treating keratosis pilaris while you scrub away the dead skin cells.

Get this:

  • Granulated white sugar- 1 part
  • Brown sugar- 1 part
  • Extra virgin coconut oil- 2 parts

Do this:

  • Mix all the ingredients well to get your scrub
  • Apply this mixture to the affected area
  • Rub it gently over the area for about 2-5 minutes.
  • Wash off with water.
  • If you feel too oily and sticky, you may even use lukewarm water to wash it off.

About Sara

Sara is a Boston-based registered dietitian who works with clients to improve their health by optimizing nutrition. You can find her running, sweating in hot yoga, cooking in the kitchen, dining out, or exploring. Eating Food-Mostly Plants, and improving our relationship with food, is the secret to lifelong health in her eyes.

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