Keratosis Pilaris

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is a very common genetic follicular disorder manifested by the appearance of rough bumps on the skin. Primarily, it appears on the back and outer sides of the upper arms, but can also occur on thighs and buttocks or any body part except palms or soles. (From KeratosisPilaris.org). It is a hereditary skin condition, which unfortunately has no cure.

Just as a side note, this is not my arm...
Photo: KeratosisPilaris.org

I suffered from mild keratosis pilaris on my upper arms throughout my teen years. It used to really get me down, because I thought I was the only person that had this and none of my friends did. I would hate wearing short sleeved tops and showing the tops of my arms. I used to have to wear a sleeveless leotard when I did ballet and I remember always being so paranoid that people were staring at my arms throughout the lessons, especially since it seemed like no-one else suffered from KP. It was a few years before I googled 'red spots on my arms' and found out that I was suffering from KP. I really wish I'd researched it sooner! Since turning 20 this year, I've noticed that the number of bumps on my upper arms has massively decreased to virtually none and have also reduced in redness.

I've seen very few products on the market aimed at KP sufferers. The only products I can think of at the moment are by Dermadoctor and rather expensive. So, I wanted to share some of the things that I did to help get rid of it and/or improve the appearance. Please note: These tips aren't scientifically proved, just my experience, so they are not guarenteed to work for everyone.

1) Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate! I cannot recommend this enough. I used to exfoliate with exfoliating gloves and my current shower gel every day. This was probably a little excessive, but I found that it really did the trick. Exfoliation shifts the cells which have built up in the follicle, resulting in a smoother surface. Nowadays, I only do it every few days. When I suffered from more severe KP, I would sometimes use my a little of my acne face cleanser (Which contained salicylic acid) to give my arms an extra polish.

2) Moisturise! Remember to moisturise every time you step out of the shower, especially if you have exfoliated. I would advise avoiding heavily scented moisturisers. I used a moisturiser by Eucerin (I can't remember the name, but I do remember it was part of their dry skin range) which contained urea. Urea is skin softening and there are claims that it helps KP.

3) Get some sun. I always found that my KP improved during the summer. So the weather is nice, bare your arms and get some vitamin D. Even if it's only 10 minutes, it will help make a difference. I have heard of people using sun beds, especially in the winter when there is no sun. I have personally never tried this, so I can't say how effective this is. Also by spending time in the sun, you build up a tan, which makes the appearance of KP look less red.

4) Don't pick at the bumps! As gross as it is, I used to do this to the biggest bumps. (Argh, so embarrassing!). I would definitely advise against this, because it makes them look even redder than before and it can potentially leave scarring.

5) Age. As you get older, the symptoms seem to disappear and ease off. My KP was worst when I was aged 15-18, but as I've gotten older, I've found that it has improved a lot.

I hope this has been helpful to you! I'm sorry that it's quite a boring, wordy post. Please remember that these things worked for me, but may not work for you. Also remember that you're not alone, because so many people all over the world suffer from KP with varying severities.

Do any of you suffer from KP? What do/did you do to treat it?

Thank you for reading. xoxo, Joy

15 comments:

  1. I used to have KP when I was 14-18 but as I've got older it's gradually cleared up. Exfoliating definitely helps a lot. x

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  2. mm, same. it usually goes in summer though! xx

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  3. I'm nearly 30 and I still suffer with this! Boo hiss.
    Becky x
    www.doingitinstyle.blogspot.com

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  4. I have it too, but a mild case on my arms. My legs however, are worse. It never really bothered me but I hate how it feels so rough! :( I'm doing a lot of exfoliating and I think maybe the gloves will be really good for it. Do you think it took you a long time to get it under control?

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  5. I've had it for years and it sounds weird but in the past 3 months I've been making sure to drink ALOT of water and it's almost dissapeared! I've also been trying to exfoliate it gently but often and make sure to just keep it moisturised...
    really good post!! x

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  6. @Lily - That sounds like what happened to me. I'm glad it clears up as you get older! I agree, it's a things that people without KP take for granted, but it's so useful when you have it. xx

    @Dannie Kate - Yeah, I'm always glad it clears up in the summer so you don't have to be as self conscious when wearing summery/short sleeved clothes. xx

    @Becky - I'm sorry to hear that. If you've had it for a long time or it doesn't seem to be clearing up, have you considered seeing a dermatologist about it? Maybe that could help? xx

    @Rainy Days and Lattes - I know what you mean about the roughness. I'd always worry that if someone brushed against my arms, they'd think they were like sandpaper or something! I would definitely recommend giving the exfoliating gloves a go - They're cheap as chips, last for ages and can be used with any shower gel you like. It took a while to get it under control, since it was a gradual process, but definitely worth it! :) xx

    @Rachel - Ooh, that's great to hear! I knew water was good for the skin, but didn't realise that it helped KP as well! :) It's good that you're exfoliating and moisturising as well. Thanks, love xx

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  7. I used to have this on my right arm and i was hella paranoid with it :( nothing worked, even tho i exfoliated etc... however, it did go away eventually, and it was after I had lost a considerable amount of weight (i was chubby-ish during my teens), so I think it is related to the "fat"(nutriet?) available to the folicles around that area? i'm still not sure, but i am very relieved it's gone now~ nice post =]
    and thanks for dropping by my blog and ur comment =] <3

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  8. @Tingkabelle Chan - Oh, I never realised that it could be fat related. I was quite chubby during my teens too, so maybe that also contributed to mine. Thanks and you're welcome! xx

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  9. I'm 14 myself and have suffered from KP as long as I can remember. I found out I had it when I was 12 and I was scared of the red/purple bumps on my arms so I did a little research on the internet. Someone commented on how my arms looked like they had constant goosebumps and I felt a little bit self conscious so I decided to try and find other KP sufferers. That's when I found this place.
    As for your suggestions, I'll give them a go but I usually leave mine alone, just scrub it with a loofa once and a while, as well as moisturise. I'll get my mum to pick up some acne treatment for it, I haven't heard anything like that before, so thanks!

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    1. Hi, I know how you feel! It took me ages to find out what was on my arms and I always thought I was the only person with KP, before realising that so many people have it. Good luck, I hope some of my suggestions help. It's good that you don't pick at them and scrubbing with a loofah will definitely help. Ahh, I hope using an acne face wash works for you! It's mainly the salicylic acid ingredient which is the most useful. xx

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  10. Ohhh OMG!!!..I didn't relize that I have KP till I found this pic, so thanks for it and I will take some suggestions from you then will see how's it work out. And I have a question, is it a contagious? because my boyfriend doesn't have it till after 2 years that we are together..but he doesn't take any serious on it. For me I do worry because this KP we can't get rid of it and I do worry if we married and plan to have kids. Please provide more info. Thank you.

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    1. Hi anonymous. I'm glad my post came in useful and I hope some of the things help you! I don't think it's contagious. As far as I'm aware, it's mostly due to genetics - if your mum or dad had it, then you're more likely to get it. Your boyfriend may have just got it at a later age and it's just coincedence that you both have it now. If you have kids, there's a chance that they might have it but you shouldn't let that worry you or stop you from having kids. Hope that helps xx

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  11. I've also had KP since my early teens. I'm now 36 and still have it, but never knew about exfoliating. Until this day I'm still ashamed of using short sleeve shirts or shorts. I stick to Capris. I now have 4 children and the two oldest have it. My daughter is 17 and just gots some light ones on her arms and plenty on her legs. Hearing her worry about them reminds me of my youth. I'm glad I decided to do a search and found this post. I will definetly have her exfoliate and Moisturise!

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    1. Hi Melissa, I'm sorry to hear you're still suffering from KP. I know exactly how your daughter feels/how you felt. I really hope the exfoliating and moisturising works for you and your daughters and that you can wear short sleeve shirts and shorts this summer :) xx

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