Keratosis pilaris: 7 tips for treatment & 4 risks

Quite a few people struggle with keratosis pilaris. The skin changes can look unsightly, but they are harmless and usually disappear on their own. However, with proper treatment, you can minimize the appearance of keratosis pilaris. We will inform you about the symptoms of the cornification disorder and give tips for treatment.

Keratosis pilaris may sound like a dangerous skin condition at first, but this is just a keratinization disorder that can even go away without any treatment. We will explain the symptoms and treatment options of the skin disorder to you.

What is keratosis pilaris

The unsightly skin changes in the form of small white and red nodules can appear on the upper arms and thighs in particular. Keratosis pilaris is sometimes reminiscent of goose bumps, so it is usually only noticeable if you look up close. However, it can be very distressing for those affected. While goosebumps only appear when the person concerned is cold, keratosis pilaris persists and can sometimes cause redness and itching .

However, keratosis pilaris is not a dangerous skin disease, but merely a mostly harmless keratinization disorder that goes back to excessive keratin production. Keratin is naturally found in the upper layer of skin, the so-called horny layer. If there is keratosis pilaris, the excess keratin is deposited and small nodules form in the skin as the hair follicles become clogged.

Thighs and upper arms in particular , but also the buttocks and cheeks can be affected by keratosis pilaris. Around 50 to 80 percent of all children develop keratosis pilaris. Children over the age of ten are particularly affected. During puberty, the symptoms sometimes worsen, while the keratinization disorder can even heal on its own in adults. Girls and women are far more likely to be affected by keratosis pilaris than boys and men.

Since the skin disorder occurs in up to half of all cases in other family members, experts assume that the cornification disorder is genetic . However, the exact causes are not known. However, too much hygiene, such as frequent washing and exfoliating, can worsen symptoms and lead to inflammation.

Appearance still plays an important role in our society, maybe even more than ever. If there are unsightly skin changes such as keratosis pilaris, this can severely impair the self-confidence of those affected. That is why the keratinization disorder can also have psychological consequences . Especially when the keratosis pilaris occurs in a highly visible area such as the cheeks, those affected sometimes avoid going out in public. In this case, a psychologist should be consulted.

Treatment of keratosis pilaris

Colloquially called keratosis pilaris, the keratinization disorder is a keratosis pilaris in technical terms. This skin disorder cannot be cured, but in many cases disappears on its own with increasing age. However, some treatments can improve the symptoms of keratosis pilaris and help those affected feel more confident.

Gentle skin care

In the case of keratosis pilaris, skin care plays a significant role in the treatment. Similar to pimples, many sufferers suspect that the small nodules need to dry out. But just the opposite is the case. The skin should be particularly gently cared for and sufficiently moisturized . Moisturizers such as urea  and lactate are particularly suitable for this . Urea is a urea that helps dry skinone of the most effective ingredients. It binds moisture and can thus provide the skin with lasting moisture. Feelings of tension and even itching can be alleviated in this way because it can calm the skin. Lactate refers to lactic acid, which has a moisturizing effect and at the same time has a slight peeling effect.

You should clean your skin regularly, but not excessively. Your cleansing gel should ideally be soap -free and pH-neutral . In addition, you should avoid fragrances and dyes in your body care and use products for sensitive skin. At best, you cream your skin several times a day with a special fragrance-free moisturizing lotion or cream. If you have very dry skin, you can also use a moisturizing ointment.

Regular scrubs

In addition, you can treat the small skin nodules with regular peelings. Both mechanical and chemical peelings are suitable for this purpose . While mechanical peels remove dead skin cells with small peeling granules, chemical peels mostly work with acids. In the case of keratosis pilaris, sea salt peelings and salicylic acid are particularly suitable for peeling. Salicylic acid penetrates deep into the pores and can gently loosen the clumped keratin. Lactic and fruit acids are also suitable. Lactic acid in particular is recommended for keratosis pilaris, as it gently exfoliates the skin and moisturizes at the same time.

In addition, so-called retinoids can also support the healing of keratosis pilaris. Retinoids refer to an active ingredient derived from vitamin A, which is particularly suitable for skin blemishes or as an anti-aging agent . Retinoids have a strong skin peeling effect and can thus also remove excess keratin in the case of keratosis pilaris. However, they must be prescribed by a dermatologist. You should also protect your skin from UV radiation when using the active ingredient and use sunscreen , as it makes the skin sensitive to the sun.

sea ​​salt and sun

Sea salt can significantly improve the appearance of keratosis pilaris. Whether in peelings or on a beach holiday – sea salt has been proven to have a very positive effect on the course of keratosis pilaris. Sunlight is also a big factor and can significantly reduce the symptoms of keratosis pilaris. A visit to a solarium can also improve the cornification disorder. However, excessive UV radiation is a major risk factor for the skin and can cause significant skin damage such as sunburnand skin cancer associated. In addition, premature skin aging is mainly promoted by UV radiation. The risks associated with excessive exposure to the sun are therefore much more serious than those of keratosis pilaris, which is usually only treated for aesthetic reasons.

Similar to a beach holiday with lots of sun and sea water, a sauna session can also have a positive effect on your keratosis pilaris and is associated with far fewer risks than UV radiation. During the sauna session, pollutants are sweated out of your body, the skin is soft and optimally prepared for the subsequent care. You can enhance the sauna effect if you use a sea salt peeling afterwards. The peeling can then work even better on your skin and act more effectively against keratosis pilaris.

Rich oils

Oils are also highly recommended for the care of keratosis pilaris. They nourish the skin richly and make it supple and soft. The keratin in the skin softens, so fewer pills form. Coconut oil in particular and other oils with a lot of vitamin E , such as almond oil , have proven effective in caring for keratosis pilaris. The reason for this is the strong antioxidant effect of the “cell protection” vitamin, which protects the cells from harmful mutations. Coconut oil also has an antibacterial effect and can promote wound healing . These properties also have a positive effect on keratosis pilaris.

Dermatological treatments

A keratosis pilaris can also be treated with certain dermatological treatments. Laser treatment or a so-called micropeeling is often recommended . Before using these methods, you should seek comprehensive advice from your dermatologist, because the applications come in a variety of forms with slight or even major differences. While some laser treatments are more suitable for removing unsightly moles, others can visibly refine the complexion and thus also benefit keratosis pilaris.

You can often have a micropeeling performed by a beautician. Here the skin is abraded so that the small nodules of keratosis pilaris are removed with the help of the peeling. If carried out regularly, these treatment methods can significantly improve the appearance of keratosis pilaris. However, keep in mind that you should not use aggressive exfoliation methods too often, as they can sometimes irritate your skin severely.

drink a lot

Adequate fluid intake is essential for the general well-being and health of your body, as water is the main component of the body. It is needed for important processes in the body and humans can only survive a few days without water. The skin is also dependent on a regular and sufficient supply of liquid. Dry skin in particular benefits from the extra portion of moisture from within . Since keratosis pilaris mainly occurs on dry skin, the symptoms can be alleviated by drinking enough water of 1.5 to 2 liters a day. The skin is moisturized from the inside and remains supple, without excessive follow-up creams.

Healthy eating

Nutrition plays a crucial role in maintaining your health, as does proper drinking habits. An unhealthy diet not only has a negative effect on your general well-being, but also on your skin. On the other hand, if you eat healthily, your skin will thank you with a healthy glow and suppleness.

The situation is similar with a keratosis pilaris. Eating an unhealthy diet can actually worsen the symptoms of cornification disorder. However, a balanced and healthy diet can have a positive effect on keratosis pilaris and minimize its appearance.

It is best to completely avoid fast food, soft drinks and finished products. Instead, prefer fresh fruit, vegetables and valuable oils . Replace white flour products with the whole grain variety and prepare your food fresh. Nuts and especially almonds are suitable as a snack between meals . These are rich in vitamin E. In this way you can supply your skin with the important “cell protection” vitamin from the inside and effectively support the external treatment of keratosis pilaris.

Sometimes it is worth ruling out possible allergies that can have a negative effect on your skin. These include lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance . With the help of a medical test , you can rule out these food intolerances.

You should avoid this if you have keratosis pilaris

While you can significantly improve your keratosis pilaris with regular, gentle skin care and a healthy lifestyle, there are some behaviors you should avoid to avoid worsening the symptoms.

Hot showers

A keratosis pilaris is sensitive to hot water temperatures and thus also to hot showers. The hot water can irritate the skin and cause redness. The symptoms of keratosis pilaris can sometimes intensify. Itching and even inflammation can result. It is better to set a lukewarm temperature that is comfortable for the skin.

scrubbing and scratching

Excessive scrubbing and scratching can also irritate the skin and make symptoms worse. Here, too, skin inflammation can occur, which can sometimes even cause scarring . Therefore, try to leave your keratosis pilaris alone when itching, so that they can heal well. You should also avoid cleaning brushes and be careful when drying your skin. This is especially important on the face, where the skin is much more sensitive.

Aggressive cleaning products

Another irritating factor for your keratosis pilaris are aggressive cleaning products with harsh ingredients . Although drying agents like salicylic acid and retinoids are sometimes recommended to treat cornification disorder, use them sparingly while keeping your skin hydrated. When your skin is irritated and dried out, the symptoms of keratosis pilaris become worse. That’s why you should limit yourself to a special active ingredient and use it exactly according to the package insert.

Dry air

Dry air can also worsen symptoms of keratosis pilaris. Especially in winter, the symptoms often get worse due to the dry heating air, while they often get better with increased humidity. It is therefore advisable, especially if you live in drier regions, to invest in a humidifier that ensures increased humidity in the household.


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