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Keratosis Pilaris (KP)

The skin problem of “KP”, or “chicken skin bumps", is really called keratosis pilaris. As the name implies, they are tiny, spiny keratin bumps sticking out from the follicular pores (hair follicles). It’s a common skin problem that is inherited. It’s worse during childhood and the young adult years and though not curable, the condition often lessens with age. The areas of skin most affected by KP are the back of the arms and the front of the thighs. The back and buttocks' cheeks can be affected too.

To get rid of the bumps of keratosis pilaris, it helps to understand what is actually happening to your skin. If you look closely at an area of KP, you will see that the little bumps are usually white and look like mini-pimples. The little white bumps feel rough and if you loosen one, you will see it is actually a hard and pointy little plug sticking out of a pore. The plug is made of dead cells that got stuck in the pore. The pore often has a little redness around it. It is also important to know that people with KP tend to have dry skin in these areas, and the KP gets rougher and worsens when the skin is dry.  

Treatment therefore is aimed at keeping the skin hydrated and getting rid of the plugs. We do that by using moisturizing creams and lotions that contain ingredients called keratolytics that loosen the 'glue' holding dead cells together. The soft, loosened cells in the plugs are then exfoliated with a rough cloth. Done regularly, the KP bumps will melt away.

Glycolic acid is an excellent keratolytic for KP. It is the best of the alpha-hydroxy acids for loosening the glue holding dead cells together. When used in a moisturizer, glycolic acid works wonders on keratosis pilaris. Other keratolytics that work against KP include lactic acid, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide.

Use the 4 essential skin care steps to treat your KP:

Cleanse using an exfoliating cloth or scrub, and rub the areas using an exfoliating cleanser such as Glytone Body Wash, Foaming Acne Cleanser, or Foaming Benzoyl Peroxide Cleanser.

Correct and Hydrate with the Glytone Body Lotion or another moisturizer with a powerful keratolytic. Always apply moisturizer within 3 minutes after toweling skin dry.

Protect KP skin from the sun to keep the red spots from becoming brownish red.

The products just mentioned are powerful, and most normal adult skin areas affected with KP can tolerate these products. If irritation develops then let the skin recover and use the products less frequently. A child’s skin is much more sensitive and may not be ready for this tough treatment for KP.

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