While there's no cure for keratosis pilaris, these products can help treat those pesky red bumps that show up on the arms and legs.
If you've ever spotted small, red bumps on your arms or thighs, you may have assumed they were tiny pimples or even hives. But these red bumps on the skin are very often keratosis pilaris, a harmless (albeit annoying) skin condition caused by a buildup of keratin in the hair follicle.
"Keratosis pilaris (KP) is characterized by flesh-colored or reddish bumps that typically appear on the arms or legs," says New York City-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD. Some people refer to keratosis pilaris as chicken skin, since it can feel rough like sandpaper or resemble goosebumps.
While there's no cure for keratosis pilaris, it’s not uncommon for the condition to eventually go away on its own. "Keratosis pilaris often shows up anytime after the age of 10 and gets worse at puberty," explains Dr. Jaliman. "But a lot of people outgrow it around the age of 30."
If you're bothered by these little bumps, the good news is that treatment can help ease symptoms of keratosis pilaris. Here, eight dermatologist-recommended products for smoother, more even skin.
AmLactin Moisturizing Body Lotion
People with keratosis pilaris should look for lotions that contain lactic acid, an ingredient that helps break down the excess keratin that builds up in the skin. This formula from AmLactin is one of Dr. Jaliman’s go-tos.
Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash
A salicylic acid body wash like this one from Neutrogena works to slough off dead skin cells that build up on arms or legs. Just be sure to always follow with a good moisturizer. Wash, hydrate, repeat.
Walgreens Hydrocortisone Plus Cream 1%
Try applying any hydrocortisone 1% cream to your keratosis pilaris to prevent uneven skin tone. According to New York City-based dermatologist Sejal Shah, MD, it can help reduce redness.
Lac-Hydrin Five Lotion
Heat and humidity help keep skin hydrated during the summer, while dry, wintry weather tends to exacerbate sensitive skin and trigger KP flare-ups. If your skin is feeling dry, arm yourself (get it?) with a thick moisturizer like this one from Lac-Hydrin 5, one of Dr. Jaliman’s favorites.
Dermadoctor KP Duty Body Scrub
Dr. Shah loves this scrub for its powerful formula that's designed specifically for people with KP. "It contains glycolic acid, lactic acid, azelaic acid, and willow bark (which is a source of salicylic acid) in combination with soothing ingredients,” she says.
Exfoliating Loofah Pads
Since exfoliation can help reduce keratosis pilaris symptoms, it’s a good idea to show your loofah some love—just make sure you use it right. "It’s best to soak the loofah before you use it," says Dr. Jaliman. "If it’s too rough or harsh, it can make the skin even redder."
Clarisonic Mia 1 Skin Cleansing System
A sonic cleansing system is your friend, according to Dr. Jaliman. "They exfoliate gently without causing irritation and help remove dead skin cells from the pores of the keratosis pilaris," she explains.
Nip + Fab Exfoliate Glycolic Fix Night Pads Extreme
Wipe one of these exfoliating pads across any KP-affected area in the evening for smoother skin the next day. "These contain hydrating hyaluronic acid," says Dr. Shah. But if they’re too strong for your sensitive skin, you can try Nip + Fab’s regular daily cleansing pads instead ($13, amazon.com).