Keratosis pilaris is a common condition among adults and children. Often referred to as “chicken skin,” keratosis pilaris looks like tiny bumps all over the skin and it’s usually found on the upper arms and thighs.
The bumps may be slightly red or inflamed but sometimes look very much like goosebumps (or chicken skin that has the feather plucked out).
What causes keratosis pilaris?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “keratosis pilaris results from the buildup of keratin — a hard protein that protects skin from harmful substances and infection. The keratin forms a scaly plug that blocks the opening of the hair follicle. Usually, many plugs form, causing patches of rough, bumpy skin. No one knows exactly why keratin builds up.” (Source)
Dr. Greene suggests that it is hereditary. (Source)
Research shows that over 50% of the population (mostly women) overproduce keratin.
It’s important to note, that even though something may be generic, environmental, dietary choices and lifestyle can still have a huge impact.
Keratosis pilaris is generally not itchy or overly bothersome; however, many who suffer from it seek ways to rid themselves of the condition, if at all possible.
For some, keratosis pilaris include itchy or irritated skin, and it also may be extremely dry. An individual with keratosis pilaris may also have other skin conditions such as eczema.
How to Fix Keratosis Pilaris:
While there is no true foolproof method for treating keratosis pilaris, the following suggestions are helpful in reducing symptoms and in many cases, clear the condition completely.
A body scrub made from white or brown sugar and oil is relatively gentle and can be used to exfoliate the skin on a regular basis.
A gentle body scrub is helpful because it aids in the removal of dead skin cells that could possibly further clog pores and make the condition worse. It also may help remove the scaly plugs caused by keratin build up.
It’s important to choose a gentle scrub for frequent use. A harsh scrub, made with coarse salt, would be too irritating.
Need DIY body scrub ideas? Check out my new book:
This post contains affiliate links.
Moisturizing regularly can be extremely helpful to those whose keratosis pilaris is accompanied by dry skin.
Try a natural moisturizer such as:
- Natural lotion – such as All Good lotion
- Tallow balm – store bought
- Calendula salve – store bought or homemade – excellent option for soothing many skin conditions
- Body oil – here's a simple DIY version
- Hard lotion bars – store bought or homemade
- Also, check out the Eczema Company for some wonderful natural options
There are many dietary changes that could impact keratosis pilaris. It's certainly worth exploring as they will have a ripple effect, improving other areas of your health as well.
Eliminate processed foods
I’m sure you already know that processed foods are harmful to your health. The high amount of sugar, industrial oils (such as canola oil), preservatives, and other unnatural ingredients make these foods difficult to digest. They also lead to inflammation throughout the body, which could contribute to many health conditions, including keratosis pilaris.
Consider ditching Gluten
Keratosis pilaris has been noted as possible symptoms indicating gluten intolerance.
It may be worth eliminating gluten for a time to see if it is affecting you. Gluten intolerance can cause all manner of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Giving it up can be life-changing for some.
Be sure to check personal care ingredients for gluten as well.
Heal the gut
Gut health is at the root of most (if not all) health issues. Improving gut health has been seen to improve keratosis pilaris. But, the benefits of healing the gut go far beyond healing a skin condition! Improved digestion, mental clarity, weight loss, reduction of autoimmune disease symptoms, improvement/elimination of skin conditions and much more.
This post is not the place to go into much more detail on addressing gut health, however, in a nutshell, to improve gut health you generally need to:
- Remove all inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, coffee, eggs, sugar (an elimination diet is usually recommended)
- Take gut healing supplements such as l-glutamine, aloe vera, and/or a combination supplement like Glutagenics (that is what I took)
- Take a good probiotic (I like this one)
- Consume bone broth
- Eat fermented foods, like high-quality sauerkraut
This is not an exhaustive list, and there is a bit of a process to the whole thing, so I recommend you read more about it in one of the following:
- Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS diet)
- The Heal Your Gut Cookbook: Nutrient-Dense Recipes for Intestinal Health Using the GAPS Diet
- The Body Ecology Diet
If you are looking for a comprehensive program, see Christa Orrechio’s Gut Thrive in 5
Consider Vitamin A Deficiency
Keratosis pilaris is also thought to be connected to vitamin-A deficiency, which Dr. Amy Myers explains is actually secondary to a fat malabsorption. Healing the gut can help with this.
It may be worth consuming more foods high in vitamin A, however, eating more of these may not be helpful if you are having trouble absorbing the vitamin A. It is necessary to address possible gluten sensitivity and gut health in order to improve this issue.
Foods high in vitamin A include:
- Beef liver – don’t want to eat it? Try the desiccated liver capsules from Perfect supplements
- Sweet potato
- Egg yolks
- Cod liver oil
I do not recommend taking a vitamin A supplement as vitamin A toxicity is a possible risk.
Supplement with Vitamin C
Vitamin C is helpful in maintaining healthy skin as it is used for collagen production and synthesis. It is also a powerful antioxidant, helping to limit or repair damage by free radicals.
Some studies also show that high levels of vitamin C in the diet can decrease skin dryness and lower the likelihood of a wrinkled appearance (Source).
Your success with the above treatments will depend on many variables, including your own state of health. It's certainly worth experimenting with some (or all) of the above to rid yourself of those pesky red bumps.
Then you can say, “Chicken Skin No More!”
All of these remedies will improve the overall condition of your skin as well as your overall health. You've got nothing to lose!