Keratosis pilaris, KP, is a skin condition where keratin build-up in the hair follicles leads to bumpy, red skin. Personally I had a severe case of it on my arms, with some on my upper thighs. There are still some signs of it today, but I have managed to minimize it to the extent where I'm not embarrassed about it anymore, or even think twice about it.
The most detrimental thing I found was rough scrubbing. Many sources say not to do this, but some claimed it would help, so I routinely exfoliated the areas with KP when I was younger. This only proved to worsen it. However, very gentle scrubbing seems to be beneficial, you just need to be very careful while doing it. My teenage self would get too frustrated while looking at my skin, and went way overboard with it. So try exfoliating, but keep and eye on the areas and try being even more gentle if it starts flaring up.
Another "cure" I kept hearing about was creams with acids, e.g. alpha-hydroxy acids, lactic acids, or salicylic acids. The idea behind this is that they will break down the keratin build-up, thus clearing out the hair follicle and removing the bumps. I tried numerous creams containing the different acids, sadly enough this was years ago so I can't remember the brands I used, but none seemed to help. The creams often made my skin feel a bit smoother, but they did not reduce the redness or the actual bumps.
However there was one cream that stood out and greatly cleared up my skin, KP Duty by DERMAdoctor. It contains glycolic acid, so I was extremely doubtful after all the previous lotions I had tried. However this one had an immense effect on my KP, making my arms look much clearer. Additionally, as I'm lucky enough to have bacne too, this actually cleared it up (for whatever happy reason I thought I'd try applying the cream to my back too). The lotion is recommended to be used with its matching exfoliator, however after my previous problems with scrubbing I was not willing to try it, so I don't know if this would have helped even more. However this lotion is quite pricy and since it is so thick and hard to spread I always used it up quickly, so it is not the most economical option.
Moisturizing is vital in battling the condition. Even today my KP will flare up a little if I am unable to apply moisturizer or if I'm in a very dry climate. So always using a very thick cream, especially after showering is extremely helpful. My favorite is Lush's Dream Cream, though it is quite pricy, or pure coconut oil. Any kind should help, just make sure that it is very thick and dense, preferably containing natural, moisturizing oils.
There are countless regimes out there that all claim they can "cure" your KP. I've tried heaps of them, which you can tell by my large library of KP help-books, since I kept wondering if each new one I found would make my skin even better. I find that many of these regimes, though not all, are quite useful as they go further than simply using a heavy moisturizer and they are not as harsh as most topical exfoliants. Personally I also like the idea of using more natural products. One of my favorites is Living with KP, which is a very gentle and natural regime. As you only need four ingredients to make your own treatments, it is very easy on the wallet. I don't want to give away the specifics, as I assume the author worked very hard creating it, but I do believe that it greatly helped reduce my KP and it is what I currently use today.
Another regime that helped was Banish My Bumps. This follows the same idea of using natural solutions to KP, which are cheap and easy to find. However this book goes further by outlining similar skin conditions which may have been misidentified as KP, and their treatments. It also touches on other skin problems and natural anti-aging solutions. Although it does not extensively cover these issues, I thought it provided more value for its price since it provided a higher amount of information and tips. The regimen I followed from here also helped my KP, though being the skin care addict that I am, I still felt the need to try other regimes.
- Use a heavy moisturizer and exfoliate very gently
- If you really want a topical exfoliant, KP Duty is the only one that made a difference for me
- A natural, simple regime has been the most effective and cost-friendly solution