What on Earth is keratosis pilaris?
Keratosis Pilaris! Sounds scary doesn’t it? But don’t worry, it is a very common skin ailment. It's the name of a skin condition that leaves you with pimply skin on the back of your arms, buttocks, thighs, and occasionally your faces. These pimples can be red or white and although they may be ugly or acne-like, they're in fact completely harmless. Keratosis pilaris shouldn't be confused with keratosis pilaris atrophicans, which is associated with hair-loss or actinic keratosis, yet another dermatological condition. Even though it tends to get worse during winter, when environmental factors dry out our skin, it doesn't cause pain or itchiness. So don't panic, keratosis pilaris is completely benign!
1. What causes keratosis pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris is caused by an over-production of keratin - a hard protein that protects our skin from the elements and harmful organisms. Too much keratin blocks our hair follicles, leaving rough blemishes and dreaded ingrown hairs. Women often get similar rashes after waxing/shaving, but these are just a temporary reaction to hair removal: the skin condition itself is more persistant.
2. Who can get keratosis pilaris?
One in four people get keratosis, young women in particular. But they're not the only ones! Although a common problem during adolescence or pregnancy, it can affect anyone at any time of their life. Even if you think you’re shot of it as you reach your 30's, it can still persist or even return. That said, keratosis pilaris tends to run in families and may also be accompanied by other skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and ichthyosis.
3. How can you treat keratosis pilaris?
You can find keratolytic treatments that contain urea, salicylic acid, or fruit acids, all of which work a treat. But bear in mind that these are not going to provide a long-term cure. If you've really had enough, then you can always book a peeling session with a dermatologist. As for skincare tips, there are certain basic rules that help.
a. Replace harsh soaps with shower oils or products designed for fragile skin.
b. Religiously apply a suitable moisturiser morning and night. Try the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Moisturizing Night Cream to boost skin firmness, youthfulness, and radiance and enhance the skin regeneration process overnight.
c. Scrub once a week.
d. Apply few drops of aloe vera every morning to help your skin get rid of dead cells.
e. Avoid wearing synthetic or tight clothes. The good news is that keratosis pilaris gets better during summer and when the weather's warm and humid.
4. Natural remedies to try for keratosis pilaris
a. An oatmeal bath - Sprinkle a handful of oatmeal into a warm bath (steaming hot water will make it worse!) and enjoy a calming 15-minute soak. Rinse off and gently tap your skin dry. Do this 3 times a week and your keratosis pilaris will feel soothed and your skin moisturised. b. A yoghurt compress - Apply 2-3 tablespoons of yoghurt to affected areas and leave for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm or cold water and gently dry your skin. Yoghurt's lactic acid moisturises skin and helps it to get rid of excess keratin, thereby reducing the cumbersome symptoms of keratosis pilaris. c. Coconut oil - Mix some coconut oil with apple cider vinegar, apply to affected areas and then rinse off. Coconut oil is packed with fatty acids that will hydrate your skin. It is also anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, meaning it'll reduce inflammation and red patches. d. Baking soda: mix 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda with enough water to form a smooth paste and apply to affected areas. Gently massage it in and then rinse off. Baking soda is a great exfoliant that will get rid of dead skin cells and deeply clean your pores.
We hope the information above helped you get a better understanding of this common skin condition. Keratosis pilaris varies from person to person, so don't hesitate to see your GP or dermatologist, who'll give you advice and draw up a personalised treatment plan.