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Natural Treatment for Keratosis Pilaris or Chicken Skin

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Keratosis pilaris is not a serious medical condition. Just a frustrating one! According to WebMD "Keratosis pilaris is a common, harmless skin condition. It causes small, hard bumps that may make your skin feel like sandpaper. The bumps are often light-colored. They usually appear on your upper arms, thighs, and buttocks, sometimes with redness or swelling." 

keratosis pilaris

The cause of the condition is due to a build-up of keratin that forms a plug in the hair follicles. That's what causes the bump, but the actual reason for the build-up is not really clear. So the best we can do is reduce the effect of that build-up by keeping skin highly moisturized and trying to keep the the follicles clear. And surprisingly, scrubbing not only doesn't help, it can actually make things worse (take my word for it!).

WebMD and other websites typically just suggest that you keep skin moisturized. But when you read about the types of moisturizers they recommend, it is often something like Amlactin. Guess what? Amlactin is an alpha-hydroxy based moisturizer, but it is loaded with "no-no" ingredients like parabens and petrolatum. So a while back, I realized that I had my very own products that could not only be as effective as Amlactin, but it could actually be better because they are natural. So, putting it all together, here is what I have tried and found it to be highly effective:

1) Exfoliate without scrubbing. How? Alpha Hydroxy Acids! I use Break Free fruit acid gel which breaks down the "glue" that keeps dead skin hanging on. Since that helps to keep skin pores clear, I figured I'd try it to keep hair follicles clear. Guess what? It works pretty darn well! I apply it in a thin layer to the affected areas, leave it on for a few minutes and rinse with cool water. This is followed immediately by #2 below.

2) MOISTURIZE! This is key. Apply moisturizer morning and night to the affected areas. Use a super rich moisturizer that contains both humectants (drawing in moisture) and emollients (trap moisture and form a barrier), and contain as few irritating chemicals as possible. Try to find products that are natural. Any of our body moisturizers are perfect - Hugs or Smooches body butters are excellent, as are any of our Body Lotions. In a pinch, you can even apply straight coconut oil! 

And here's the secret - if your skin is very dry and bumpy, you can literally make your own version of Amlactin: Apply a thin layer of Break Free to the skin, then immediately apply your moisturizer. Or add a small amount of Break Free to a dollop of moisturizer and mix before applying. This way the AHA's are able to work harder for longer. It might tingle a bit but that will dissipate. Do this daily until things are under control, then return to using Break Free a couple of times a week, followed by moisturizer. Of course, if your skin becomes irritated discontinue the use of the AHAs.

3) Avoid soaps that are drying or irritating. Avoid anything with Sodium Lauryl or Laureth Sulfate. Use a shower gel or soap with moisturizers built in - and again, with as few chemicals as possible to reduce irritation. 

4) Avoid hot showers or baths - hot water can further irritate skin. Instead opt for using warm water when you bathe.

5) Continue these - forever. Literally. If you stop doing these steps it will return. Again, it's not a dangerous condition by any means, but if those bumps bother you, you have to commit to this process.

Now of course, I am not a dermatologist, or a medical professional. Clearly. So this is simply my suggestion based on my own experience. But I will say, it has really worked quite well for me, and I hope it does for you as well!

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