How To Get Rid Of Keratosis Pilaris Aka Chicken Skin

Buh-bye, bumps.


That bumpy, rough-textured skin that tends to crop up all rash-like on your arms? It probably isn't an allergic reaction to your new washing powder.

Totally harmless but sometimes uncomfortable and often unsightly, Keratosis Pilaris is the dermatological name for what most of us refer to as 'chicken skin' - skin that looks bobbly and red and feels slightly prickly to the touch.

The good news? You don't have to suffer with it.


ELLE got the best dermatologists in the biz involved, so you can say a big fat see ya to uneven skin.

What Is Keratosis Pilaris And Why Do I Have It?

'Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is a common inherited disorder of the skin affecting around 1 in 20 of us,' says London based consultant dermatologist Dr. Justine Kluk.

'It occurs due to an accumulation of keratin at the opening of the hair follicle, leading to stubborn, horny plugs on the skin's surface. These are often surrounded by a rim of redness giving a stippled or speckled appearance and may resemble goose bumps or "chicken skin."'

So, why do we get it?

'KP usually becomes apparent during childhood and is most likely to affect the upper arms, front of the thighs and sides of the cheeks,' continues Justine. 'The size of the bumps is said to increase and decrease over a period of months and can fluctuate in different hormonal states, such as pregnancy.'


How To Minimise The Appearance Of Keratosis Pilaris

'Even without therapy, the condition tends to become less prominent with age,' says Justine, 'although this is not always the case. In light of the genetic predisposition there is unfortunately no cure for KP.'

And while there is no miracle remedy to clear it up entirely, there are a number of different things sufferers can do to improve how Keratosis Pilaris looks and feels.

1) Avoid Harsh Soaps And Body Washes

When it comes to shower gel, we want them to lather up a treat, smell gorgeous and look pretty by the side of the tub, but if you suffer with Keratosis Pilaris, it might be a good idea to swap your current body wash out for something gentler.

According to Dr. Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at Skin55, using bland, fragrance-free cream or emollient cleansers will reduce dryness and make Keratosis Pilaris feel a little less rough, so you can forget the shudder-worthy feeling that comes with catching the skin on your arms when you pull on a jumper - ugh.


- CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash, launches at Boots in March

Developed with dermatologists, everything in the CeraVe range aims to find a solution for skin problems. This creamy cleanser cloaks dry, sensitive skin in moisture and leaves it feeling properly clean, not tight, scratchy or scaly.

CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash

- Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, £8.99

Beloved by skin experts and beauty editors alike, Cetaphil's milky cleanser is free from fragrances and comedogenic ingredients, so it won't block your pores or strip your skin of the good stuff.

- E45 Emollient Wash Cream, £5.45

This might not lather up but it cleans, soothes and smooths. It feels ultra-nourishing, so a few pumps is all you need.

Body washes containing glycolic or salicylic acid should also help make your skin feel smoother and look more refined. AHA glycolic acid turfs away dead skin on the surface, while salicylic acid makes its way to the deeper levels of the skin to target the keratin responsible for Keratosis Pilaris.

We swear by the Mario Badescu AHA Botanical Soap, £8.

Mario Badescu AHA Botanical Body Soap

2) Choose The Right Body Lotion

While there's nothing like slathering on a luxurious, skin-quenching body oil after a shower, it might be a good idea to swap your current hydrator for something packed with exfoliators and humectants.

We're talking alpha hydroxy acids (e.g. lactic and glycolic acid to exfoliate the top layer of skin), beta hydroxy acids (like salicylic acid which penetrates pores and breaks down the keratin that leads to clogging), as well as urea, an ingredient which keeps moisture under lock and key in the skin.

But whatever you choose, there's a clever knack to it applying it.

'After bathing, a moisturising cream or lotion should be applied to damp skin in a downward direction - the same direction as the hair growth,' says Dr. Justine.

Got it.


- Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion, £14.50

Approved by Dr. Justine, Dr. Mahto and us, this body lotion takes rough, ragged skin and makes it supermodel-smooth, thanks to a powerhouse of dead-skin busting alpha hydroxy acids.

Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion

- NeoStrata Problem Dry Skin Cream 20 AHA/PHA, £29.99

The high percentage of alpha hydroxy acids (20%, to be exact) in NeoStrata's cream has the muscle to slough away scaly, flaky skin. Referred to by experts as the ultimate moisturising ingredient, the added vitamin E helps reduce that sandpaper feel that is typical of Keratosis Pilaris.

- Eucerin Intensive 10% w/w Urea Treatment Cream, £12.50

Dryness can make Keratosis Pilaris look and feel worse, but the urea in this body lotion really helps retain moisture in the skin. Treat damp limbs to a generous slathering after showering and you'll notice a difference in your skin's texture after a couple of days.

3) Incorporate A Physical Exfoliator Into Your Shower Routine

Acids aren't the only route to super-soft skin. According to Dr. Anjali, gentle manual exfoliation with a loofah or sponge will also help.

But how often should you be doing it?

'A couple of times a week in the bath or shower has been shown in dermatological studies to improve results,' says Dr. Justine, who also rates body polishes and scrubs. But remember - 'Vigorous scouring, however, is likely to cause irritation and should be discouraged.'



- Nuxe Reve de Miel Body Scrub, £19.50

Nuxe's luxurious body scrub combines sugar, honey and both argan and borage oils to lift away the keratin and dead skin cells responsible for bumps. It really nurtures dry, deflated skin.

Nuxe Reve de Miel Deliciously Nourishing Body Scrub

- Neal's Yard Remedies Pumice Stone, £2.50

This might not look like much but it works wonders to bring down bumps, all while being super-kind on skin. Take it into the shower with you and buff your skin while it's wet.

- Hydrea London Organic Egyptian Loofah Bath Mitt, £5.75

Unlike other mitts, this isn't scratchy or abrasive and won't leave you red raw. Pop it on your hand and buff your body in circular motions.

4) Try A Retinol Treatment

There's no denying retinol is the gold-standard when it comes to skincare. Not only does regular use have the ability to minimise the appearance of acne, fine lines and hyper-pigmentation but it works a treat to smooth Keratosis Pilaris, too.

'A dermatologist may prescribe a retinoid cream to help smooth the skin,' says Dr. Justine, 'or a short burst of steroid cream if the bumps are particularly red, itchy and inflamed.'

No time for an appointment?


- Paula's Choice Resist Retinol Skin Smoothing Body Treatment, £32

A best-seller for good reason, Paula's Choice Resist Retinol levelled out our skin texture in a week. Even better? The formula comes in an air-tight pump, which means the skin-smoothing ingredients won't degrade.

Paula's Choice Resist Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment

- The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion, £8

Face, body... Wherever you use this milky retinoid serum, you can expect smoother, softer more refined skin in virtually next to no time at all. We'll take two more bottles, please.

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid In Emulsion

5) Try A Light Or Laser Treatment

If your parched skin is getting you down, Dr. Anjali, mentions that light or laser treatments - such as IPL and pulse dye - can temporarily reduce Keratosis Pilaris-induced redness. Dr. Justine says that persistent skin discolouration or pigmentation caused by the skin condition can also be treated by lasers.

The bad news? They'll do very little for the bumps, so your best bet is to combine regular exfoliation with regular moisturising.

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