Strawberry Legs: Treatment Options

Here's what you need to know about dealing with these dark pores on your legs.

A skin condition that affects a lot of people is strawberry legs. Strawberry legs are medically known as keratosis pilaris, and they happen when skin pores become plugged.

Keratosis pilaris is treatable, though it does not require treatment. The main goals are to relieve itchiness and dryness and reduce the appearance of bumps.

Dermatologists may prescribe medications to treat symptoms. At-home remedies typically include exfoliation and moisturization. Light or laser treatments might also be considered. There are also ways to prevent the condition from flaring up.

Though you can clear up strawberry legs, keratosis pilaris does not have a cure. It can take some time for keratosis pilaris to clear up. The condition can also often be resistant to treatment and requires a maintenance plan after treatment has started.

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What Are Strawberry Legs—And What Causes Them?

Strawberry legs are exactly what they sound like—dark spots or pink dots on your legs that resemble the skin and seeds of a strawberry. About 40% of adults have keratosis pilaris, along with 50-80% of adolescents.

The skin creates a buildup of a protein called keratin—the same building block for hair, skin, and nails—and the keratin creates a plug that blocks the hair follicle, leading to small bumps, Rachel Nazarian, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and a fellow of the AAD, told Health. The plugs can also become inflamed.

What Makes Strawberry Legs More Likely to Happen?

The following can increase the chances of having keratosis pilaris:

  • Family history of keratosis pilaris
  • Eczema
  • Excess body weight
  • Asthma
  • Hay fever
  • Dry skin
  • Ichthyosis vulgaris—a condition where the skin becomes very dry
  • Use of vemurafenib for melanoma treatment

If you already have the condition, combining strategies to prevent strawberry legs and adding the right products into your skincare routine can help treat keratosis pilaris.

Skincare Products

Various skincare products may be used for treatment of strawberry legs.


Invest in a good exfoliator, since ingredients that reduce the appearance of pores can also help treat keratosis pilaris, Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, told Health.

Look for products that feature glycolic or salicylic acid, which eases inflammation, unclogs pores, and exfoliates dead cells from the skin. Dr. Zeichner's pick was Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Cleanser, a pore-refining cleanser that penetrates to remove dirt, oil, and makeup for a smoother, healthier complexion.

Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City, liked CeraVe SA Cream for Rough and Bumpy Skin because it contains salicylic acid to gently dissolve keratin without irritation. Dr. Jaliman was also a fan of Glytone Exfoliating Body Lotion, which boasts glycolic acid to exfoliate dead skin and help with the uneven texture associated with strawberry legs.


You'll want to keep your skin as moisturized as possible. This can be especially important when you're shaving, for example.

To start, use a gentle cream when shaving—like Dove Body Mousse—and a razor or epilator with fewer blades (two blades is ideal) to avoid further irritation, advised Dr. Nazarian. Slather on moisturizer afterward with ingredients like colloidal oatmeal or ceramides, which help soothe and protect skin to minimize the appearance of dark spots, said Dr. Zeichner.

Dr. Zeichner recommended Aveeno Skin Relief Moisture Repair Cream, which provides all-day hydration and is also fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, so it won't irritate skin or clog pores further.


Topical retinoids are also helpful for keratosis pilaris. Retinoids are skincare products with vitamin A. They can increase turnover in the follicle, improve skin tone, and prevent keratin backup in pores. Retinoids might consist of products like tretinoin creams, but they may also be in the form of retinol, adapalene, or tazarotene.

Laser or Light Therapies

Laser therapy and phototherapy, or light therapy, might be considered for treating keratosis pilaris. These are options that are considered if other treatments have failed. Laser and light therapies might do the following:

  • Reduce swelling and redness
  • Improve skin texture
  • Reduce discoloration

Living With and Managing Strawberry Legs

While keratosis pilaris lasts, beneficial management of the skin condition includes staying on a skincare maintenance plan.

Also, the hair follicles can become irritated by sweat and rubbing, so wearing loose clothing and keeping the skin cool and dry can help. Dr. Zeichner also said that it's best not to pick at the spots. The result can be irritation and permanent scars.

"The most common mistake I see my patients making is trying to 'scrub' the bumps off, or using a rough loofah to exfoliate the bumps away," said Dr. Nazarian. This technique is a temporary fix as it will dislodge the keratin plugs. However, rough exfoliation can inflame skin and hair more, ultimately causing redness and making the condition even more noticeable, added Dr. Nazarian.

Continuous use of these creams and lotions can certainly help smooth skin, minimize redness, and reduce the look of strawberry legs over time. However, keratosis pilaris is a difficult skin condition to treat and does not have a cure. Bumps may reappear once treatment is discontinued.

However, even though it may not go away, keratosis pilaris generally tends to get better over time.

A Quick Review

Strawberry legs are known as keratosis pilaris, a skin condition of clogged pores. Keratosis pilaris is uncurable, but it is treatable—even though treatment is unneeded. Treatments can include skincare products, like exfoliators, and laser or light therapies.

Having a treatment maintenance plan can keep strawberry legs at bay. However, if you're still having difficulties with your skin, contact a dermatologist for assistance with treatment options.

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  1. Pennycook KB, McCready TA. Keratosis pilaris. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

  2. American Academy of Dermatology. Keratosis pilaris: diagnosis and treatment.

  3. American Academy of Dermatology. Keratosis pilaris: self-care.

  4. Reddy S, Brahmbhatt H, Reddy S, Brahmbhatt H. A narrative review on the role of acids, steroids, and kinase inhibitors in the treatment of keratosis pilarisCureus. 2021;13(10). doi:10.7759/cureus.18917

  5. American Academy of Dermatology. Keratosis pilaris: who gets and causes.

  6. American Academy of Dermatology. Retinoid or retinol?

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