How I Finally Got Rid of Keratosis Pilaris on My Legs and Arms
by Jess Preciado
I finally said “goodbye” to keratosis pilaris on my legs and arms thanks to some hero products.
Everyone has at least a few persistent skin troubles they can’t seem to break up with, no matter how hard they try (right?). Well, I have these pesky little patches of red bumps on the back of my arms and upper thighs that’ve been on the top of my list for years. My mom calls them chicken skin (you’ve probably heard this term), but the proper medical name is keratosis pilaris. Keratosis pilaris (or KP) is a skin condition that causes patches of tiny rough bumps. These bumps are from built-up keratin (a protein that makes up your hair) blocking the opening of a hair follicle. If you have dry skin, like me, you’re more likely to experience this condition.
It’s not at all painful, contagious, or harmful — slight itchiness is as bad as it gets — but the appearance of the bumps is pretty hard to miss. In most cases, these bumps are flesh-colored, but in my case, they’re red (lucky me). A few times, I’ve even willingly gone against the skincare code of conduct and resorted to picking at the bumps in the hopes of making them go away. Of course, we all know this never works, especially for my olive-toned skin that scars easily (lucky me, again). To twist the knife a little more, I recently found out there’s no way to actually prevent or completely cure keratosis pilaris — so really, what’s a girl to do?
Just when I was about to give up, I came across a video from Dr. Dray (Andrea Suarez), a board-certified Dermatologist with a popular vlog among skincare enthusiasts.
What you should know is, not all hope is lost — but you’ll have to be more strategic about the products you put on your body, and consistency is key. If you have KP, you have to address two seperate things with your skincare routine: dryness and the keratosis pilaris itself.
Taking Dr. Dray’s advice, I got rid of my potentially-irritating fragrant body washes (sad) and replaced them with a wash that exfoliates while maintaining hydration, the CeraVe SA Body Wash ($13.99; walgreens.com). Once I’m out of the shower, I pat myself dry (rubbing is too harsh for dry skin) and moisturize with a basic, fragrance-free hydrating moisturizer while I’m still damp. This seals in hydration, helping to prevent water loss that can lead to dryness. EltaMD’s Moisture-Rich Body Cream ($28; dermstore.com) is both simple and luxe, and leaves my skin feeling plump and soft.
Finally, twice a day on a completely dry body, I use a moisturizer with exfoliating agents that work to break up the dead skin cells — consider this your treatment product. For this step, I rotate between Paula’s Choice Weightless Body Treatment 2% BHA, featuring salicylic acid ($28; paulaschoice.com) and Avene Akerat Smoothing Exfoliating Cream, with lactic and salicylic acids, an AHA and BHA respectively ($32; dermstore.com). Both feel really light and dry quickly, which is important if you’re applying before putting clothes on or right before bedtime. Treatment moisturizers shouldn’t be used on wet skin, but you can layer this step over your EltaMD cream (or other body lotion of choice) once it’s fully absorbed and dry.
After three months of following this routine, I haven’t noticed my KP at all. I no longer feel an army of tiny red bumps every time I touch my arms and legs, and any bumps I do have are no longer red or noticeable in shorts and swimsuits. Break-ups are never easy, but I’m relieved to kiss KP goodbye. Shop my chicken skin-busting skincare routine below.
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