Our quest for clear skin doesn’t stop at our faces. Bumps and breakouts can happen at almost every pore that’s present on our bodies, so we’re always on the lookout for the best solutions to banish them.
However, some of these spots may not look like your usual pimples. If you’ve noticed areas of little rough bumps that are skin-coloured or slightly red, you may be dealing with keratosis pilaris, or KP for short.
To find out exactly what it is as well as how to prevent and treat this pesky skin issue, keep reading.
What is keratosis pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris is a buildup of dead skin cells and keratin, a hair protein, in the pores. These clog up and block the opening of your hair follicles, which causes small bumps and rough patches on areas of your body, such as your arms, thighs, cheeks, and more. These tiny red or white bumps are very common and completely harmless.
It’s also often called “chicken skin”, which should give you a pretty good (though slightly unpleasant) idea of what it looks like. Keratosis pilaris is often confused with a bunch of other skin conditions, so make sure you know what sets it apart.
If you’ve experienced these bumps since your childhood or teenage years, they don’t constantly itch, and are pretty consistent year-round, then it definitely points to keratosis pilaris. Still unsure if you have it? You can have the bumps on your skin evaluated by a dermatologist.
Those who are certain that they have keratosis pilaris, know that picking and scratching at these bumps can often worsen its condition. You may be left with a slew of scars too, which makes treating them a whole lot tougher. It’s best to leave them alone and use a topical product.
What causes keratosis pilaris & how to treat it
The root cause is largely genetics, especially for those with fairer skin – although the bad news is that there’s no real cure. The good news? There are plenty of treatments that can help you manage keratosis pilaris. Plus, it can start to disappear for most people in their mid-30s, which is something to look forward to.
Experts and dermatologists agree that the best way to treat KP is to exfoliate and moisturise. If you prefer mechanical exfoliation, you can opt for a loofah or body scrub to buff away rough patches.
For a gentler approach, you can try chemical exfoliators, such as body washes or treatments that contain lactic acid, glycolic acid, mandelic acid, or salicylic acid to unclog pores and break up dead skin cells.
However, it’s important to be mindful of over-exfoliating. You should always limit yourself to once or twice a week. Otherwise, you may cause inflammation, red patches, or even more breakouts.
In-office laser treatments can also significantly reduce the redness and/or bumpy texture on your body. IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) laser treatments can target and constrict red vessels in the skin, while a laser hair removal helps with roughness.
Since it’s theorised that trapped hair coiled in the follicle can contribute to KP bumps, destroying the hair completely should solve the issue.
Products to banish keratosis pilaris: Body washes & scrubs
Neutrogena Body Clear Pink Grapefruit Body Wash budget-friendly!
An affordable, daily body wash to try is Neutrogena’s Body Clear Pink Grapefruit Body Wash. It’s one that’s well-known for its acne-fighting power. It’s a fan-favourite thanks to its 2% salicylic acid, which reaches deep within the pores to clear congestion.
Neutrogena Body Clear Pink Grapefruit Body Wash retails for S$12.99. Click on the links below for the most updated prices.
SOME BY MI AHA, BHA, PHA 30 Days Miracle Acne Clear Body Cleanser
This acne-clearing body wash works just as well on keratosis pilaris. It’s enriched with eucalyptus to refresh the skin and control sebum production, while AHA, PHA, and BHA gently exfoliate the skin with every wash. There’s even 10,000ppm of Truecica™ and houttuynia cordata extract to soothe troubled skin.
SOME BY MI AHA, BHA, PHA 30 Days Miracle Acne Clear Body Cleanser retails for S$37.94. Click on the links below for the most updated prices.
First Aid Beauty KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub most popular!
One of the most popular products for keratosis pilaris, First Aid Beauty’s KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub offers both chemical (lactic and glycolic acid) and physical exfoliation (pumice) to slough off dead skin cells for smoother skin. Although it contains a number of exfoliants, the fragrance-free formula promises to go easy on sensitive skin.
First Aid Beauty KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub retails for S$41. Click on the links below for the most updated prices.
Dermadoctor KP Duty Dermatologist Formulated Body Scrub
Dermadoctor’s KP Duty line was one of the first skincare ranges to specifically call out keratosis pilaris as its target. Years later, products like KP Duty Dermatologist Formulated Body Scrub are still gaining fans, thanks to its combination of microdermabrasion and exfoliating acids.
Dermadoctor KP Duty Dermatologist Formulated Body Scrub retails for S$67.50. Click on the links below for the most updated prices.
Nécessaire The Body Exfoliator
If you’re new to Nécessaire, the brand was launched by Estée Lauder alum Randi Christiansen and Into the Gloss co-founder Nick Axelrod. Designed specifically for sensitive skin, this body exfoliator features a gentle blend of glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids for chemical exfoliation along with pumice, which provides physical exfoliation.
All of the products in their line include a fragrance-free option, ideal if your skin (or nose) doesn’t tolerate strong scents. If you do prefer fragrance, the scrub is also available in sandalwood and eucalyptus scents.
Nécessaire The Body Exfoliator retails for S$42.98. Click on the link below for the most updated price.
Products to banish keratosis pilaris: Lotions & leave-on treatments
Paula’s Choice Weightless Body Treatment 2% BHA
Designed specifically for KP-prone skin, this lightweight cream from Paula’s Choice contains 2% salicylic acid, which helps soften the hardened little keratin plugs over time.
This moisturising body lotion is a gentle way to shed built-up layers of dead skin, resulting in smoother, younger-looking skin from the neck down.
Paula’s Choice Weightless Body Treatment 2% BHA retails for S$46. Click on the links below for the most updated prices.
CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin
This lightweight lotion from CeraVe gets top props for being equally exfoliating and hydrating, thanks to the addition of salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid. Besides that, it also contains three different skin-strengthening ceramides for barrier repair. It’s great for those who have dry skin and keratosis pilaris.
CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin retails for S$33.90. Click on the links below for the most updated prices.
Eucerin Intensive Repair Lotion
Eucerin’s Intensive Repair Lotion is an effective over-the-counter option that combines urea and lactic acid, both powerful exfoliators that reduce congestion and smooth KP-prone skin. It also contains shea butter and ceramides to condition and protect the skin for a stronger, more resilient barrier.
Eucerin Intensive Repair Lotion retails for S$15.04. Click on the links below for the most updated prices.
Soft Services Smoothing Solution Calming Gel Exfoliant
Soft Services, the newly launched beauty company co-founded by Glossier alums Annie Kreighbaum and Rebecca Zhou, isn’t just another body care brand. They create products that specifically address common body skin concerns, such as body acne and keratosis pilaris.
The Smoothing Solution Calming Gel Exfoliant is a cloudy, spreadable gel that contains alpha-hydroxy acids, which dissolve the build-up of dead skin cells, along with soothing ingredients that calm visible irritation.
Soft Services Smoothing Solution Calming Gel Exfoliant retails for US$34 (S$45.87). Click on the link below for the most updated price. Note: the brand doesn’t ship internationally at the moment, so you’ll have to prepare a parcel-forwarding service if you plan on purchasing this!
Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% for the face!
If you have keratosis pilaris on the face, several dermatologists highly recommended adding a retinoid to your routine. Retinoids speed up cell turnover and exfoliate the top layer of your skin. But if you can’t get a prescription retinoid from a dermatologist, an over-the-counter adapalene gel like Differin works too.
In addition to treating keratosis pilaris, Differin tackles a range of skin conditions, including acne, maskne, discolouration, and scarring, so it’s a particularly great option if you have more than one skin concern you’re trying to treat.
Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% retails for S$25.16. Click on the link below for the most updated price.
Glytone Daily Body Lotion Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 15
This fragrance-free body lotion from Glycone has 6.2% glycolic acid, which helps treat keratosis pilaris. Users noted that it may tingle for a minute or two after application, so don’t be alarmed if you experience the same thing.
Most of them love the lightweight consistency of the lotion. Plus, it offers SPF 15 protection to shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays.
Glytone Daily Body Lotion Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 15 retails for S$62.94. Click on the link below for the most updated price.
AmLactin Ultra Smoothing Intensely Hydrating Cream most moisturising!
Say goodbye to those dry, bumpy areas with this moisturising cream. The Ultra Smoothing Intensely Hydrating Cream contains 15% lactic acid and is clinically proven to deeply hydrate parched skin. It gently smooths rough areas for softer, clearer skin.
DV tip: Use this cream every night and apply it within five minutes of showering while your skin is still damp. This helps the rich cream absorb faster and lock in moisture.
AmLactin Ultra Smoothing Intensely Hydrating Cream retails for S$23.78. Click on the links below for the most updated prices.