what causes keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris (KP for short) is a common, harmless skin condition that can cause dry, rough patches and tiny bumps, often on the upper arms, thighs, cheeks, buttocks, and occasionally the face. KP is caused by the buildup of keratin, which is a hard protein that makes up your hair, skin, and nails. When there’s a build up of keratin, it blocks the opening of hair follicles, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin that we call keratosis pilaris.

KP typically looks like a bunch of little, raised bumps that are red or pink in color, but there are multiple symptoms of KP, so it can look different from person to person.

Some common symptoms of keratosis pilaris:

  • Painless, tiny bumps (upper arms, thighs, cheeks, buttocks or face)
  • Dry, rough skin in the areas that have bumps
  • Bumps that feel like sandpaper
  • Slight pinkness or redness around bumps (sometimes this can be quite severe looking)
  • Itchy, irritable skin

It’s not exactly clear what causes keratin buildup in certain people. Some dermatologists think that it may be due to a genetic predisposition. What we do know is that keratosis pilaris seems to appear and get worse when the skin is dry. This is why your KP might flare up more in the winter months when there’s less moisture in the air and then may clear up in the summer. Other possible factors include hormonal changes, especially for girls going through puberty and women during pregnancy, and being born with fair skin (which makes KP more likely).

what causes keratosis pilaris

    What makes KP better?

    Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for keratosis pilaris, but there are some tricks to keep it at bay. The main thing to remember is that KP gets worse when your skin gets dry, yet it also needs exfoliation in order to remove the keratin plugs, so finding the right balance of exfoliation and moisturizing is essential. Here are some tips for treating your keratosis pilaris:

    • Warm, short showers: Taking shorter showers or baths with warm water rather than hot will help seal in moisture instead of drying you out.
    • Chemical exfoliation: Gently exfoliating the skin daily with a chemical exfoliant can help slough off keratin plugs that are responsible for forming KP. Almond Clear's Level 1 Serum works great to clear up KP. It's powered by mandelic acid, which gently unplugs the pores and follicules without overly drying the skin.  We're also developing a KP Lotion, so stay tuned for that! 
    • Moisturizer: Apply a hydrating, non-comedogenic moisturizer generously on the skin. This can be done up to twice daily. Almond Clear's 2-in-1 Hydrating Gel is an outstanding choice because it both moisturizes and gently exfoliates the skin at the same time. 
    • Humidifier: Use a humidifier to add extra moisture to the air in your home to avoid drying out your skin.

    how to get rid of keratosis pilaris

    Other helpful products for KP

    1. Amlactin Daily: This everyday moisturizer contains clinically proven 12% lactic acid to boost the skin’s natural renewal process through gentle exfoliation. It leaves skin feeling smooth & hydrated.
    2. Touch KP Exfoliating Lotion: This Keratosis Pilaris treatment has two key ingredients: glycolic acid that exfoliates away surface bumps and oil soluble salicylic acid which can go deep into hair follicles and pores to target the source of KP, reducing inflammation and redness.

    Although keratosis pilaris cannot be totally cured, you don’t have to live with it forever. Just remember to find products that assist in keeping a 50/50 balance of exfoliation and hydration, and you should be good to go!