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Keratosis Pilaris Treatment | What is Keratosis Pilaris & How to Treat It?

Keratosis Pilaris (commonly referred to as chicken skin) is a skin condition that causes small whitish or red bumps. Most commonly, it occurs on the upper arms and thighs. Less commonly, keratosis pilaris affects the buttocks and face. It presents a rough sandpaper feel.

  • Keratosis Pilaris is harmless, except for the distress it causes some people.
  • Keratosis Pilaris affects up to 50% of the population.
  • It is genetic and requires patience to treat.

Please book online or call 07 33505447 for a consult with our Laser and skin nurse, Christine.

What Causes Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is caused by a build-up of keratin (a naturally occurring skin protein designed to protect your skin from infections or harmful things). The keratin builds up and blocks your hair follicles, resulting in tiny bumps. As a result, KP gives the skin a rough and sometimes reddened appearance. Hence the unflattering term chicken skin.

  • The keratin forms a hard plug inside the pores.
  • Scrubbing will not remove these bumps (and can make the chicken skin appearance worse because it drys the skin out)

Generally, left untreated, keratosis pilaris will settle itself. However, this can take months to years. So most people seek treatment to remove the rough scaley texture and appearance.

Keratosis Pilaris Treatment

We recommend booking a skin therapy consultation with one of our Skin Therapists for a free assessment and to discuss treatment options, often including topical prescription creams to lessen the chicken skin appearance. The topical lotions are prescribed by our Doctors, who work with our skin therapist to treat skin conditions. Consultations with our Therapists are free, and consultations with our Dr McTari. Below are the five most effective approaches to settle your keratosis pilaris. But remember, it takes time and persistence; it will not disappear overnight.

1. Prescription retinoid for treatment of Keratosis Pilaris

Unless you have a contraindication to its use, prescription retinoids (think treating acne, sun damage, wrinkles and photos ageing ). Vitamin A increases cell turnover and exfoliation of surface cells, so the chicken skin bumps flatten out. It takes 6 – 12 weeks to see the results and requires ongoing use.

2. Chemical Exfoliants for Keratosis Pilaris Treatment

Unlike mechanical scrubs, chemical exfoliants do help. Either BHA, AHA or combinations of both to unclog your follicles. There are many exfoliant choices, and we stock Propraira and Dermaenergy peels. But here are some pointers to look out for in keratosis pilaris treatment with chemical exfoliants. (See below, starting with a clinic-strength chemical peel can speed exfoliation and clear the chicken skin bumps.)

At home;

  • Minimum 10% AHA concentration
  • minimum 2% BHA concentration
  • Require the daily application to keep the lumps at bay.

3. Try a Chemical Peel To Kick Start Your Keratosis Pilaris Treatment.

A clinic chemical peel allows us to use higher-strength peels, enabling deeper penetration and faster results. If you want to kick-start your treatment, we have a few choices, but perhaps the best is a double-layer peel with lactic acid, salicylic acid, or the Jessner peel. Please discuss this with our Therapist during your appointment.

4. Other Products and Tips to Help Settle Chicken Skin.

Other topical treatments and considerations help remove the keratin scales blocking the follicles and help prevent them from reappearing. Using keratolytic agents  (products that help break down the keratin blocking the follicles. These include urea, lactic acid and glycerin. They all perform the second function of moisturising as well.  

  • use fragrance-free products, as KP can be exacerbated by fragrance in your body lotions or creams
  • avoid scented soaps and body washes (avoid soap altogether as it can dry on the skin
  • prevent things that dehydrate skin, such as long baths, exposure to cold air and winds
  • avoid excessive alcohol causes your skin to dry out
  • drink plenty of water to stay hydrated

Lastly, what dietary measures can help with keeping chicken skin at bay? A healthy skin diet is rich in whole anti-inflammatory foods. With KP, ensuring your skin stays moisturised and getting food-rich in omega 3’s becomes crucial. Similar to an acne diet plan, omega 3’s are essential.

5. Foods to Help Settle Keratosis Pilaris.

Eat  foods that contain  omega-3s:

  • nuts,  seeds and beans – especially walnuts,  flaxseeds and soybeans
  • oily fish such as wild salmon, tuna and sardines.

Eat foods that help settle inflammation.

  • Include foods that promote a healthy gut microbiome, such as fermented foods – Kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha
  • eat probiotic food rich in insoluble fibre-resistant starch.
  • Avoid foods that trigger inflammation, such as milk, sugar, high GI carbohydrates and processed foods.
  • Leafy greens, fresh vegetables and fruit are also helpful for overall skin health.

Please book online or call 07 33505447 for a consult with our Laser and skin nurse, Christine.