What is keratosis pilaris?

Skin Care Matters

With Michelle Vernon

Saturday, April 30, 2016

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KERATOSIS pilaris (KP) is a common skin condition that causes rough patches and small bumps resulting from clogged follicles. These bumps are typically found around hair follicles on the arms, thighs, cheeks, and buttocks.

While these bumps may be tempting to squeeze and sometimes squeezing may seem effective in opening the follicles, it’s cautioned not to as this will just result in doing more harm than good, leading to scars and bacteria infection of the follicles.

Anyone may develop KP, though it tends to be more common among children and adolescents.


Keratosis pilaris results from the build-up of keratin — a hard protein that protects skin from harmful substances and infection. The keratin forms a scaly plug that blocks the opening of the hair follicle. Usually many plugs form, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin. Giving the skin a "goosebump appearance"

No one knows exactly why keratin builds up. But it may occur in association with genetic diseases or with other skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis. Most people with this condition are genetically predisposed and have a high rate of affected family members. Dry skin tends to worsen this condition.


There’s no cure for keratosis pilaris, but the following recommended treatments can alleviate symptoms:


Significant improvements are seen with products that contain alpha-hydroxy acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, or urea to remove dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. These include creams, gels or toners.The acids may cause redness or a slight burning, so they aren’t recommended for young children.


Retinoids related to vitamin A, help prevent hair follicles from getting plugged. These include products with the ingredients tretinoin. But topical retinoids may irritate your skin or cause redness or peeling.

Women who are pregnant, nursing, or may become pregnant should avoid topical retinoids.


This is done for skin resurfacing and is sometimes used to treat severe redness and inflammation. It isn’t a cure, but it may provide some relief when creams and lotions aren’t enough. You might need several sessions for this treatment to work.


For everyday at home care, moisturising lotions or creams may help your skin look and feel better. A nurturing, soothing serum with ingredients like willow herb, cocoa butter, epidermal growth factors and tocopherols will keep skin hydrated, reduce inflammation and nourish the skin.

You can also do body scrubs but be sure not to over scrub the area or use harsh exfoliants that may be too abrasive for the skin. Doing so will bring about irritation and induce inflammation.

Follow these at-home skin tips:

1. Baking soda

Baking soda is an excellent exfoliator, which removes dead skin cells and deeply cleans pores.

Process: Mix 2 – 3 tablespoons of baking soda and water. Apply to the affected area and gently scrub for three to five minutes. Rinse with water. Repeat regularly for best results.

Note: Alternately use salt or commercial exfoliators.

2. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains unique fatty acids that are easily absorbed and moisturise skin deeply. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties work inside and out by reducing inflammation and redness.

Process 1: Mix one part of each white granulated sugar and brown sugar with two parts of extra virgin coconut oil. Apply to the affected area and gently scrub for two to four minutes. Rinse with water. Repeat regularly for best results.

Note: Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract or honey for added moisture.

Process 2: Mix equal quantities of apple cider vinegar and coconut oil with a teaspoon of honey. Apply to the affected area and leave until dry. Repeat daily for best results.

Note: Alternately rub coconut oil on the affected area before bathing.

3. Yogurt

Yogurt contains lactic acid that reduces skin dryness and reduces excess keratin.

Process: Apply 3 – 4 tablespoons of yogurt on the affected area 15 minutes before bathing. Repeat regularly for best results.

4. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent infection and cleanses the skin, healing KP quickly.

Process 1: Use a cotton ball to apply raw, organic apple cider vinegar to the affected area. Repeat daily for best results.

Process 2: Pour a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar on a washcloth. Wet the washcloth with water to dilute the vinegar. Wash the affected area while bathing. Mix 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of coconut oil or grapeseed oil. Apply to the affected area and gently massage for three to four minutes. Rinse with water.

Note: Alternately add 1 – 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to your bath water.

5. Oatmeal bath

Oatmeal baths keep skin moisturised and prevent KP.


After you have invested in alleviating the symptoms of keratosis pilaris, maintenance is needed to prevent recurrence. Monthly professional application with skin-building and healing ingredients like growth factors, amino acids and oxygenators are great to stimulate respiration and circulation while keeping follicles free from excessive keratin build-up.

Remember there is no cure for keratosis pilaris, but the above recommendations can alleviate the unsightly appearance and improve the texture of one’s skin.

Michelle Vernon is a licensed esthetician who operates the Body Studio Skincare establishment, located at 23 Central Plaza, Kingston 10. She may be reached at telephone 908-0438 IG @bodystudioskincare Website: www.bodystudioskincare.com


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