Keratosis Pilaris and Natural Remedies

August 5, 2020
Some natural products can help improve the discomfort caused by keratosis pilaris. However, you should see your dermatologist to learn about other treatments.

To improve keratosis pilaris, dermatologists normally recommend exfoliating products, hydrating creams, and topical retinoids like tretinoin and tazarotene, which promote cell regeneration and help clear hair follicles.

However, as the American Academy of Dermatology indicates, this skin condition is harmless and in most cases doesn’t require specific treatment. However, if you suffer any discomfort like itchiness, dryness, or bad skin appearance, you can try some treatments. In this case, natural remedies could be useful.

When it comes to natural remedies, you have to remember that they shouldn’t be your first treatment, and there is a lack of evidence to prove their effectiveness. Despite this, they are safe complementary treatment options that can help temporarily reduce your discomfort.

Do you want to learn more about them? Then read on!

What is keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a common and benign dermatological affliction that causes small, rough bumps on your skin. Due to their appearance, some people call them “goosebumps.” Likewise, sometimes people confuse them with pimples or acne.

The most affected areas are normally the upper arms, thighs, cheeks, and buttocks. However, beyond aesthetics, they don’t normally cause any discomfort, pain, or itching. Usually, only in times like winter, your skin tends to become drier and rougher, which can cause discomfort.

Dermatologists haven’t been able to establish the exact causes, but they know that it is an accumulation of keratin, which is a type of protein that helps protect the skin from damaging and infectious agents. Keratin makes small blockages in hair follicles and, due to this, causes the irregularity on the skin.

Small children, adolescents, people with dry skin, and overweight people are more likely to have this problem. However, in the majority of cases, it improves after a few years and doesn’t need any treatment.

Can you treat keratosis pilaris?

As the Mayo Clinic indicates, some treatments help to improve the appearance of the affected skin. Therefore, if you still have bumps and dryness after some basic care, a doctor or dermatologist can suggest medicinal creams.

They might suggest products with urea, lactic acid, retinoids, or salicylic acid, among others. In addition to this, you can complement the treatment with some natural remedies that also seem to improve your skin’s appearance.

We’ll tell you more about a few options below.

A close up of keratosis pilaris bumps on skin.
Keratosis pilaris causes small, rough bumps to appear on your skin.

Read also: The Differences between Atopic and Seborrheic Dermatitis

Natural remedies for keratosis pilaris

There isn’t a remedy that can cure or eliminate keratosis pilaris. In fact, even if you use pharmaceutical products, breakouts can appear and disappear for many years. Despite this, over time it often gets better by itself and tends to be less noticeable.

Some natural remedies may be useful when it comes time to treat your symptoms. However, the majority come from popular beliefs and they lack scientific backing. However, despite this, there’s no problem if you want to try them since most of them are completely safe.

Let’s take a look at some options.

Warm baths

According to an article from the Cleveland Clinic, the majority of patients with keratosis pilaris can improve their symptoms by changing their routine to avoid dry skin. For this reason, you should take warm baths for no more than 15 minutes.

You shouldn’t take long, hot showers, since they cause changes in your skin’s natural oils and increase dryness.

Additionally, it’s useful to use neutral or hydrating soaps, especially when your skin tends to be too dry.

Woman in shower.
Warm baths can help to improve some of your keratosis pilaris symptoms.

Lightly exfoliate

Learning to carefully exfoliate allows you to remove dead cells that get stuck to the surface of your skin. Thanks to this, your skin’s appearance will improve notably. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends you use a vegetable sponge or a rough towel to do this. 

However, it’s important to rub lightly, in a circular motion, since doing it too roughly can break blocked hair follicles and worsen the situation. When you finish, you should dry by dabbing with a dry towel and apply a hydrating cream.

Coconut oil

There isn’t enough evidence to prove the effectiveness of coconut oil on keratosis pilaris symptoms. Despite this, it has been used as a supplementary treatment to improve symptoms, since it’s hydrating and helps reduce the rough feeling of your skin. 

You can even combine it with a bit of course sugar to make a homemade exfoliant.

A review of studies published in the scientific journal, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, notes that coconut oil is an anti-inflammatory and helps repair the cutaneous barrier. Additionally, it has antioxidant properties and helps protect your skin from the negative effects of the sun.

Discover: Skin Problems Caused by Stress

Colloidal oatmeal

Lumpy powder in a bowl with a wooden scoop.
Colloidal oatmeal is a natural product with anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.

You can use colloidal oatmeal as part of your skincare routine for keratosis and other skin afflictions to help keep your skin hydrated and protected. This ingredient is a type of oat ground into a fine powder, which can be added to creams, baths, and other skincare products.

According to a study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, it’s a natural product with anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties that can help to improve the symptoms of atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, breakouts caused by medicines, and other skin conditions.

What else can you do to improve your keratosis pilaris symptoms?

As you’ve seen, some natural remedies can be useful when it comes to improving your keratosis pilaris symptoms. However, in addition to this, using medicated products, wearing loose clothing, and installing a humidifier in your house can help. This last option adds humid air to the room and helps reduce itchy breakouts.

Of course, it’s also important to see your dermatologist, especially if the breakouts get worse or if you notice anything abnormal about them. A professional can suggest some tests to determine if your symptoms are due to another problem, or they can point you to specific treatments that might help.

  • Keratosis pilaris: overview. (n.d.). American Academy of Dermatology.
    Retrieved on March 3, 2020 from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/keratosis-pilaris-overview
  • Keratosis pilaris. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on March 3, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/diseases-conditions/keratosis-pilaris/symptoms-causes/syc-20351149
  • Pennycook KB, McCready TA. Keratosis Pilaris. [Updated 2019 Sep 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546708/
  • Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. Published 2017 Dec 27. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070
  • Cerio, R., Dohil, M., Downie, J., Magina, S., Mahé, E., & Stratigos, A. J. (2010). Mechanism of action and clinical benefits of colloidal oatmeal for dermatologic practice. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology9(9), 1116–1120.