Beauty Buzz: How to deal with Keratosis Pilaris (KP)

By Andi Douglas, nwaMotherlode.com beauty editor and mama of 3

The weather is warming up finally (on and off, but I’ll take it) so on go the flip flops and off go the sleeves! And then the sleeves go right back on because I have keratosis pilaris (KP).

If you are not familiar with the common skin ailment, KP is when there is a buildup of keratin that plugs hair follicles and red, bumpy patches. These are most common on the arms and legs but can also appear on your cheeks or back. Some people call it “chicken skin” but those people need to be punched.

It is very commonly inherited; my sister and I both have it and I’ve noticed it on two of my kids. Sorry, guys. Bad news, there is no cure, but there are ways to minimize the scaly bumps so they are not as noticeable.

Thankfully, KP tends to improve during the summer for a couple of reasons. A tan, whether it be natural or bottled, makes the rosacea-like redness less noticeable. Also, winter is the season for dry skin, with hot air pumping through your home and less humidity, conditions that exacerbate KP. So with the return of air conditioning and rain, your symptoms should improve.

equate lotion for kpYou can, of course, help it along with the right products. Exfoliating is recommended to help clear out the offending hair follicles. However, using a rough loofah or sponge will only irritate the skin further and add to the redness. A chemical exfoliant with lactic acid instead of the scrubby things will be much gentler. I did come across some KP specific products but, um, I have not tried them and was concerned with the harshness of the exfoliating treatment. I would love feedback if anyone has first hand experience instead of just online reviews.

The Number One thing you can do to help minimize any KP bumps or dry patches is moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. I have recently discovered my favorite moisturizing product of all time: Equate Moisture Care Cocoa Divine Body Oil Gel. I don’t want to oversell it, but I love it and want to have tiny coconut scented babies with it.

My arms and legs actually still feel moisturized a day after I applied the gel. Did you hear the angels sing? I did!

Fair warning, your hands and body will be noticeably oiled up for a little while, so I recommend applying the gel right after the shower and then give yourself some time before crawling into bed or trying to fix your hair. OMG, I almost forgot, it’s only $3 at Walmart!!!!

If you want something a little more lotiony, Gold Bond’s Rough & Bumpy Skin cream both exfoliates and moisturizes to improve overall skin appearance. I have heard from real live people that this helps.

gold bond rough and bumpy skin

I would like to mention that I have seen a lot of articles attributing KP to a gluten allergy or intolerance. To my knowledge, this is not true, but I’m not a doctor. By cutting out gluten, a lot of people probably adopt a healthier lifestyle overall, which usually includes drinking tons of water therefore being better hydrated and improving dry skin symptoms, like the yucky KP bumps.

Quick anecdote that will hopefully help anyone who feels self conscious about KP or anything, really: About 10 years ago I went to my best friend’s bachelorette party. I was dressed to par-tay in a tube top that I have never worn again. During the course of the evening I happened to touch my bff’s upper arm and gushed about how incredibly soft and smooth it felt. She, naturally, thought I was overreacting so I told her to feel my arms. Y’all, she freaked. She, and some of the other women, couldn’t believe how dry and bumpy my arms are.

I want to note that this was not mean spirited or meant to upset me, just comments from some of my oldest friends. Did you notice what I said? My oldest friends had never noticed my KP. Please remember that while you’re busy worrying about your own imperfections, someone else is probably looking at you and trying to figure out how you achieved the perfect winged eyeliner or what curling iron to get to copy your curls. Just a fun reminder as we enter swimsuit season (DUN-DUN-DUUUUN) to rock what ya got, Mamas!!!!

Andi, 150If you have a great idea for a beauty product to try — or a hair/makeup question for Andi — send it to her via mamas{at}nwaMotherlode{dot}com. She loves to test out new products in the name of beauty blogger.