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Keratosis Pilaris - A Skin Disorder

Updated on April 10, 2011

About KP

KP is an abbreviation of the skin disorder Keratosis Pilaris. KP is a common skin disorder; it affects men, woman and children of all nationalities. 50-80% of children have it compared to 40% of adults. Women are slightly more prone to developing it but generally anyone can have KP.

KP usually gets worse during puberty and better with age. Saying that, KP does not go away. Many sufferers have complained worse condition in the winter while in the summer improvements had occurred. Just like the colour of your eyes, KP is hereditary. Not everyone who has KP has a positive family history but the majority do.

As with may other medical conditions KP may accompany other symptoms. These include eczema, dry scaly skin, asthma and hay fever. Everybody’s circumstance is different but there are 2 things that KP suffers have in common. One, they are unaware there is a medical term for the dreaded, rough, discoloured skin they have been trying to hide most of their lives and two, it can be treated.

The Cause of KP

The process of forming epidermal skin known as Keratinisation does not work correctly. Normal skin is able to discard old skin cells. This is process works slower with KP and as a result surplus skin cells build up around each hair follicle. The discolouration that you see is inflammation at the base. It is not dirt as some people with darker skin believe.

As surplus skin cells begin to build up hair may become trapped beneath and cannot reach the surface. As result you are left with hundreds of raised rough bumps that give the appearance of polka dots/chicken skin. This is extremely embarrassing but you should always remember that this is a disorder and not a cosmetic defect.

How do you get rid of it?

You can’t. Keratosis pilaris is genetically programmed and so cannot be cured. The best you can do is control it. It is possible to smooth away the rough bumpy texture and the spotty discolouration. This will take time and effort. It is different for each sufferer. Trial and error methods are necessary to help suit your individual case.

As a KP sufferer myself I dream of flawless smooth skin. In reality I am willing to try new methods and take one day at a time. Without expecting any miracles to happen I am optimistic. Having read many success stories from people who have diminished all signs of their KP is a great feeling. Of course, they’ll need to continue treatment but the worse is out the way. Sharing stories and success will help us all on our journeys.

Keratosis Pilaris
Keratosis Pilaris


If you have stumbled upon this page from the film on Youtube this is actually a blog. The blog is about a KP sufferer and selected treatment. Feel free to continue reading this page which is dedicated to the treatment of KP. It applies to men and woman of all ages and nationalities who believe they have the skin disorder Keratosis Pilaris.

There are a number of ways to treat KP. You can treat the actual skin in forms of creams, lotions or gels. A lot of KP suffers often have deficiencies but there are a select number of food supplement which are especially good for KP. Oil pulling is something fairly new but some have sworn by complete removal of their KP with this self-healing therapy. As with many skin problems, diet usually has some part to play. It is not necessary to completely alter your diet but a few changes here and there may help better your KP in the long run.

Each treatment option has been identified below. The list has been compiled with research gathered from books and various Internet sites/forums. They are not intended as miracle cures but more of guidelines to how you can make KP better. The list is quite long so feel free to use the nav below to jump to a specific topic.

Topical Treatment

Glycolic acid

An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that has exfoliating properties. AHA speeds up the process of skin exfoliation. It helps retexture the skin leaving it smooth and soft. This treatment can takes months to give you results but they can be astonishing. Once treatment is complete you simply need to maintain the KP condition, which will be much easier. You can buy Glycolic acid as a cream, lotion, gel, peel or soap. The idea is to apply product to KP areas twice a day for at least 2 months. If minimal or no improvements are seen after this time you can upgrade to a higher potency. Below is a list of some highly recommended Glycolic acid.

DCL AHA revitalizing lotion. This lotion comes in 10, 15 and 20% glycolic acid. You should start of with 10 or 15% then move up to 20% if you feel a stronger strength will do better for you.

Neostrata lotion plus. You can get this at 15% glycolic acid.

Zirh body Bar. This is a soap that contains triple alpha hydroxy acid, gentle enough to use daily in the shower. It is Ideal for pre-use of AHA lotion/cream/gel.

Dermadoctor KP Duty. Skin care products by dermatologist Audrey Kunin. KP Duty is one of the few products that have been specifically designed and advertised for KP conditions. There is a moisturizing cream and a chemical medi-exfoliater. They contain the following ingredients:

Glycolic Acid – Powerful AHA
Sodium Glycolate – Glycolic Acid salt with buffering action
Green Tea – Botanical antioxidant with soothing anti-redness action
Algae – Soothing botanical
Dimethicone – Barrier agent – reduces moisture evaporation

KP Cream only
– Humectant
Sodium Hyaluronate – Potent hydrating agent

Further Treatment

Lactic acid

Another AHA but in lower strength which makes it ideal for older children. In high potency it is good for adult skin more so for stubborn itchy flare-ups. Lactic acid is more of a moisturizer than exfoliator. Glycolic acid is a much more deeper treatment. Use Lactic acid to treat the dry/rough skin symptoms of KP.

Lacticare lotion. This is a good product which is best for mild to moderate dry skin symptoms of KP. It is ideal for older children.

Amlactin. At 12% lactic acid this is far more potent and ideal for moderate to severe dry skin symptoms.

Vaseline intensive rescue foot cream. This is a foot cream but works great on overall body skin. It contains Lactic acid and moisturizes skin with great effect. The product is quite cheap which is quite good, some other lactic products can cost considerably more.


Urea is a powerful humectant, it can soften the crutiest skin. Urea is a good option for moisturizing KP conditions.

Carmol 10 or 20. Carmol 20 being stronger is a nonlipid vanishing cream for rough, dry skin.


KP can sometimes be complicated by acne. An ideal solution would be a vitamin A cream like Retin-A. Overeager use of a vitamin A cream won’t hasten the return of silky skin. It is more likely to leave skin peeling and painful. This type of cream should be used sparingly, increasing the dose over time or as tolerated.

Afirm. This is a great product to start with if you should choose the vitamin A cream route.


This type of treatment should be reserved for special occasions. Microdermabrasion provides temporary appearance of skin that looks healthy. KP is a chronic condition. Choosing microdermabrasion as ongoing treatment will be never-ending. Even though it provides immediate result it is much better to choose a treatment you can do at home i.e. AHA. Over time you will have visible result that will only need to be maintain in the future. Microdermabrasion would be an endless journey of treatment. There are however, a few less costly at home microdermabrasion products you could try. Give them a go them if you have severe cases of KP.


Chemical and acid products may not be an option for everyone. Some may find their skin is quite sensitive. There are other things you could try to treat KP. These include moisturizing with oils such Olive or Coconut. You can make your own scrubs made of sea salt and your favourite body oil.

For sometime I believed I had oily skin and the polka dots on my legs were hundreds of blocked pores that needed vigorous scrubbing everyday. I now know that I have dry skin and must keep it moisturized. The polka dots on my legs are not blocked pores; they are my hair follicles that have become inflamed by my KP. Harsh scrubbing will only make the skin worse and on darker skin cause extreme scarring. Gentle exfoliation and consistent moisturizing will keep your skin looking the best it can without chemical treatment.

Internal Treatment

KP sufferers usually lack a kind of vitamin or other essential body goodness. You stand a better chance of controlling your KP if you treat the body inside as well as out. Good Nutrition is relevant to any medical condition, especially for the skin. The three deficiencies that stand out the most for KP sufferers are Vitamins A, sulfur (MSM) and Omega 3.

Vitamin A

Some people might caution about overdoing it with Vitamin A. In high amounts Vit A is known to be toxic, BUT, it seems to me that we are less vulnerable in the first place as the one of the reasons our KP exists is due to the fact that our bodies are just not processing the Vitamin A from the foods we eat. Even then, it would take an enormous amount of Vitamin A: like drinking five gallons of carrot juice everyday to get intoxicated. Vitamin A is available in most good health stores. It usually comes as part of a multivitamin but that alone may not be enough. Carrot juice and walnuts are high in Vitamin A. Having the right diet is an easy way to get ample amounts of the good stuff.

Sulfur (MSM)

Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM) is a nutritional supplement found to have exceptional healing properties for skin conditions. MSM can be obtained from eating raw, dark leafy vegetables, shellfish and whole grains, or via convenient supplements. One thing KP victims suffer from of ALL races is a deficiency of SULPHUR. MSM relieves skin problems, leathery cracked skin, wrinkles, and skin itching. MSM reduces scar tissue, moles, brown spots, black spots, skin tumours, cuts, and burns. Taking MSM supplements each day will go along way when treating your KP.

Omega 3

Despite all the concerns about fat in our diet, the body does require healthy fats and oils to function. Omega 3 is one of those healthy fats, that helps nourish and keep our skin healthy. Omega 3 can found in food such as oily fish or you can purchase it as a food supplement.


Oil pulling

Oil pulling is a fairly new therapy that involves swishing oil through the mouth. By doing so you pull toxins from the blood achieving better health. There is great detail about oil pulling so if you would like to learn more google >> oil pulling. I have read of some success with KP through oil pulling but there also skeptics. It’s definitely something to read about.

Diet Adjustment

Let me start by stated it is not essential to completely abandon your diet for a new one. The easiest thing to do is add foods that contain the nutrition you lack, gradually taking out or slowing down on the foods you don’t really need. Other skin conditions such as acne can be worsened by a bad diet, we all know this. KP is a skin condition just as acne is. It is possible that certain food you eat will make your KP worse while others could potentially make it better.

An easy way to identify this is by taking a Vega test. A Vega test will identify food intolerances. You are advised to remove certain food groups such dairy, wheat etc for a few months, gradually bringing them back in. You will learn if the foods you eat are making your KP worse or indeed any other medical problems you might have.

I have read of one person who managed to diminish all signs of KP by avoiding food that had been identified as intolerant. But don’t get too excited about this, KP is unique to it’s sufferer. Food intolerances that have been removed from diet may not cure KP altogether. It may make it better and if it does it may only be for a short while. The good thing however, is that we can all try. In the meantime, here are few things you can add to your diet which work well to improve KP.

Carrot Juice – High in Vitamin A
Walnuts – Also high in Vitamin A
Salmon, Mackerel & Tuna fish – Great sources of Omega 3
More Vegetable and fruit – Naturally
Sugar and salt – The less sugar and salt the better. We do need them in our diet however.
Plenty of water – It’s almost like a chore if you’re not already an avid drinker of water. But it really pays off to drink daily.
MSM food supplements – You can buy this as tablets or crystals
Multivitamins – The easiest way to keep on top of all the other vitamins we need

My Treatment Plan

As a KP sufferer I have devised my own method of treatment. This site was created to help others and of course help myself. I will document my experiences over the next few months. My goal is to have spotless smooth skin by the end of the year. I may change my treatment along the way but at this present time I using the following products.

DCL AHA revitalizing lotion 20 – Moisturizing twice daily
Zirh body bar - Exfoliating once a day in shower
Multivitamin – Once a day
Omega 3 – Capsule once a day
MSM – Tablet 3x a day with meals

I’m not a health freak; I tend to eat what I like. I’ll admit, I don’t get enough fruit or veg but I’m working on that. I love fish especially mackerel so I get enough Omega 3 from my diet each week. Water! I find that I often force myself to drink it which isn’t fun. I prefer to drink juice so occasionally I’ll have a watered down diluted drink. Otherwise it’s 100% pure fruit juice.

My overall health is good. I’ve had asthma all my life and more recently I get migraine attacks. My hay fever symptoms last all year round, which can be extremely unpleasant. But what I’ve found already is that my symptoms are getting better. I go to the gym once a week and enjoy time in the steam and sauna. Steaming is great for any skin. It leaves you feeling soft and smooth even it is only temporary. I would highly recommend using a sauna and steam.

A Few Tips

  • Don’t try too many things at once. It will be hard to identify what is working and what isn’t.
  • Be optimistic. It will take many months to treat KP. There are no quick fixes. If you feel you have found one it is extremely likely your KP will return, maybe even with a vengeance.
  • Source your products online, especially if you live outside the US. I tend to buy my stuff on Amazon, as it’s usually cheaper than the RRP and safe for international sales. The products are always cheaper to buy from the US. Just an example. DCL AHA revitalizing lotion sells for $14 (roughly £7) on Amazon. The cheapest I have found this product in the UK sells for £40. Remarkably more expensive. A lot of the other recommended products don’t sell in Europe so it’s something to think about.

Final Thoughts

As KP suffers we must work that little bit harder to maintain healthy skin. If you eat cheeseburgers for breakfast, lunch and dinner, neglecting to moisturize on a regular basis than don’t expect too much. KP should always be treated topically. Our skin simply does not shed at the same rate as ‘normal skin’. We must intervene, exfoliating and moisturizing on a regular basis. Treating it internally will definitely help speed things up. There are no miracle cures. What might work for one of us, will not work for the other. There is no one-treatment plan; it’s different for all of us. The best thing to do is try a few things at a time. Identify what works and what does not. Stick to the things that do work and play at them for as long as it takes. The more you put in, the more you will get out.

Good Luck!

**** UPDATE 2011 ****

Well, I actually wrote this article in 2007 for a wordpress blog I was working on. I wanted to create a hubpage so I edited a little.

The question I get asked my most often is - Did any of it work? And to answer that question - Yes, it did work.  The fact is, KP is uncurable and all you can really do is relieve the symptoms. And by that I mean, make yourself feel good about your body. Once you get there, you'll never worry about again. Today, I don't even think about it. I keep my skin moisturized and that makes me happy.

The only thing that bothers me slightly, is the spotty effect. I suppose it appears different on varying skin tones but on mine, it's quite visible. I've learned to live with it. I guess those people who have freckles all over their faces sometimes wish they weren't there but you are who you are. Same thing with KP, if you can keep your skin smooth and healthy a little 'freckles' here and there don't matter.

At present I'm still using Zirh body bar, Amlactin (roughly once a week or less) and various vaseline intensive rescue products. The smoothing coco butter does wanders and smells great!

I tried nearly all the products I listed in the article. What I found was, especially in the stronger strengths, you only need them for a while. When you see the improvements, you gain confidence, you can tell yourself it's working. Afterwards, move onto lighter concentrations or more widely available moisturizing creams; spend less money basically.

I gave up on the diet thing. Although, I do try to eat healthier as I suppose we all do. Vitamins and minerals either come from the food I eat or they don't come at all. It's only hard work if you make it. Don't stress.

I'm still recommending the sauna and steam, it helps, I promise. And KP really is better in the summer time. Don't be insecure and get some sun on those legs. Don't forget the sunscreen!

Good Luck! Truly.

Does anybody really care?

Does KP bother you or do you simply deal with it?

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank you for so much information. I am also battling KP. This summer it came with vengeance. I decided to eliminate nuts in my diet since I realized I was consuming more than usual.

      I am hoping it will give me a brake. I am also eager to try some of the creams you have recommended.

      I have been using exfoliating scrubs and applying sea buckthorn oil and it will subside.

      Thank you again for sharing.


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