Dr. Shreya Andric is a dermatologist based in Sydney. She is passionate about skin health and her mission is to educate the public on how to care for their skin, and also clear up the vast amount of misinformation out there on this topic.
While Dr. Andric has independently chosen the products that appear in this article, she does not receive revenue from the links. Some of the links may return revenue to Yahoo Lifestyle Australia.
What is keratosis pilaris (aka 'KP')?
Keratosis pilaris is a very common form of dry skin, which is characterised by hair follicles plugged by scale (keratin).
It is so common in fact that it is considered a variant of normal as it occurs in up to 50 percent of the population. It occurs most frequently in children with atopic eczema and although it is most prominent during the teenage years, and least common in older people, it may occur in children and adults of all ages.
Keratosis pilaris symptoms
Often described as “chicken skin” the scaly spots may be skin coloured, red or brown. They are not itchy or sore.
It usually occurs on the backs of the arms, but can also develop on the thighs, the buttocks, as well as the sides of the cheeks, and less often on the firearms and upper back. It is symmetrical – meaning both sides are affected.
It tends to be more prominent at times of low humidity, such as in the winter months. KP is a clinical diagnosis and a skin biopsy is generally not required for diagnosis.
There is no cure for KP and often even if it does improve whilst using treatment, it will likely recur once stopped.
The following may be helpful:
Soap-free washes (eg. QV wash or Cetaphil gentle cleanser) – soap may exacerbate dryness making the KP more prominent.
Using a chemical or physical exfoliant in the shower – Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash contains 2% salicylic acid, which can unclog the hair follicles.
Other good options include the Mecca Athletica Skin Perfecting Body Wash AHA/PHA blend and the La Roche Posay Effaclar Micro-Peeling Gel. An exfoliating sponge/loofah may also be helpful.
Moisturising creams containing urea, salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acids. I often recommend Lanate Face & Body Cream, which contains ammonium lactate and can be used once or twice a day.
CeraVe SA Smoothing Cream contains salicylic acid and lactic acid but is very gentle and locks in hydration with hyaluronic acid, whilst also maintaining the skin’s barrier with ceramides.
Topical retinoids – these can be prescribed by your doctor and will help to increase cell turnover, thus preventing the follicles from being blocked in the first place.
Pulsed dye laser treatment or intense pulsed light (IPL) – these may help to temporarily reduce redness, but not the roughness.
Laser hair removal (LHR) – on a personal note, I found this to be the most effective for myself. A reduction in hair follicles = fewer hair follicles to be blocked. I would advise speaking with your GP or dermatologist before undertaking a course of LHR as not all people are candidates for this.
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