Keratosis pilaris (KP) is caused by the buildup of keratin — a hard protein that protects the skin from harmful substances and infection. The keratin blocks the opening of hair follicles, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin (Mayo Clinic). It’s also known as “chicken skin“.
I first noticed I had keratosis pilaris in 6th grade when my peers started to ask what was happening on my upper arms – leave it to the kids to point out something, right? I then started to notice when my parents would point my keratosis pilaris out as well. Fun fact: I inherited KP from my mom; she had it when she was younger and it disappeared when she entered her twenties.
The good thing about Canadian kids is that they’re polite! Growing up, I never felt embarrassed by it and no one else pointed it out throughout high school. Looking back, keratosis pilaris never affected me mentally because I was never a subject of bullying. KP was something teens didn’t make fun of so when I entered my twenties, it didn’t phase me too much.
But, just because it didn’t phase me, didn’t mean I didn’t try to look up remedies. For the most part, I generally left my keratosis pilaris alone but from time to time, I would scour the internet to find remedies recommended by medical professionals or others affected by keratosis pilaris.
I’m 29 and after a decade of attempts, and countless products, I’ve officially waved the white flag. I don’t want to sink my time and more importantly, my money, into the hundreds of products out there that claim to treat keratosis pilaris because, in reality, there’s no real treatment for this skin condition. It generally disappears with age (but not always).
So, I want to share all the methods I’ve used in an attempt to treat my keratosis pilaris to no avail. For the record – my KP is bad so perhaps, some of these treatments would work with someone that has a lesser severity KP condition than me.
- Daily exfoliating. Tried this many times with scrubs, loofahs, stones, etc. It made my skin red but ultimately didn’t do anything.
- Exfoliating + Aveeno Eczema Care Moisturizing Cream. I read somewhere on a forum that the key to treating KP was treating it like it was a sister of eczema and using eczema cream. Didn’t work! Perhaps, it’s better with a medical-grade prescription cream but I would not have qualified to get such a prescription.
- Exfoliating + Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution + moisturizer. Saw this on IG reels… didn’t work!
- Exfoliating + Eucerin Complete Repair Cleanser + Eucerin Complete Repair Intensive 10% Urea. My highest hope and even went with the triple combo but ultimately, didn’t do anything.
- KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub with 10% AHA. This is probably one of the more expensive scrubs on the market due to its cost per size. I have mixed feelings about this because while it did feel like it was working, after three weeks, it barely made a dent. My skin wasn’t as red anymore, and some of the KP smoothed itself out but ultimately, not worth the price for me to continue to see if it would treat both my arms.
Unfortunately, by the time I discovered Paula’s Choice, I was at my end trying all the various products that I didn’t bother looking into Paula’s Choice too much. However, at a glance, I don’t believe these products would’ve helped since their ingredient levels are similar to the other products I’ve used already.
I also read that laser hair removal was also an option because as mentioned above, the keratin blocks the opening of hair follicles, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin we see. A few people shared that lasering the hair off their arms showed a massive improvement in their KP. This, of course, is a very expensive course of action that may or may not yield results!
What did work? Sun exposure in the summer. I noticed that every summer, or when I’m in a tropical place, my KP was very subtle. This is not a permanent cure, of course. Just a temporary relief, especially when it’s time to whip out the short sleeves!
If you have KP, my honest advice is to try to build your confidence around it. It’s truly not a big deal and it’s more common than you think! This is coming from someone that has it down their upper arm and is always noticeable throughout the year. But, if you’re keen on trying to treat your KP, give yourself a monetary limit. Once you’ve reached that limit, don’t sink your money into any more products!