Beating Keratosis Pilaris - Who has and how?

by (60) Updated February 19, 2014 at 5:45 PM Created August 23, 2012 at 2:44 AM

15 years of Keratosis Pilaris on my legs and arms has led me down a path of many treatments which do not work. 1) Upping Vitamin A & Fermented Cod Liver 2) Exfoliating 3) Jojoba oil every day (noticed slight positive results) 4) Liver cleanse (reduction in the roughness) 5) Attempting several Gut cleanses and failing

Dry brushing (Towards the heart to get lymphatic system working) has always helped with the feel of the bumps, how rough they are, however nothing has ever taken away the redness.

This week I have gotten them all over my upper back. In the past 3 weeks Ive been eating bread daily which I usually do 1-2 times per week.

I now have the small lumpy white kind all over my back.

I've always notice bloating, constipation, gut irritation after gluten, dairy & sugar though have never done anything about it. Gut Flora. I know I've got to cut the gluten, dairy (unless raw & fermented)

Intuitively I feel that my diet has always been the cause. It started at 12/13 when I ate nothing but crap in school and out of school.

Of course its worse in winter, and better with sunlight (VIT D) though the little red bumps (which contain a little ingrown hairs)

Anyone had this case, suffered for years, finally beat it?

Anyone feel that high Insulin levels are linked, have gotten insulin responses down for long enough to see serious results?

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30 Replies

2357 · August 23, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Sunshine or even a tanning bed has always been the most effective for me.

40740 · May 03, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Another KP thread, but will share my experience again. Had it all my life (as I remember). Going paleo did not help (or hurt). But recently starting eating liver (beef and chicken) and within 4 weeks, all 99% of KP is gone, skin is no longer dry, scalp is not flaky in the slightest either. Nothing short of miraculous in my opinion. What's in the liver having this effect? Copper or retinol. I've supplemented vitamin A in the past and have not had positive skin effects, so I'm thinking it's more the enhanced copper (I know supplementing copper in my own livestock has similar effects on skin/hair.)

15261 · August 24, 2012 at 1:50 AM

I had Keratosis Pilaris on the backs of both upper arms (triceps area) for years. It was only mildly annoying, looked like chicken skin and rarely got itchy or inflamed, but people would sometimes ask what it was.

When I first went paleo, I dropped ALL grains and sugars for about 3 weeks. Everything, totally strict, no wheat, corn, oats, or any product made with any of these, as well as all refined sugars.

The Keratosis Pilaris was one of the 10 or so minor health annoyances that completely went away within about 2 weeks. The skin on the back of my arms is now supple and perfect. I am not sure which grain or sugar was causing the problem, but I attribute this to a general, low-grade inflammation that was completely eliminated by changing diet.

187 · August 23, 2012 at 5:07 AM

Ahhhh the dreaded KP.

I had it really badly on my arms all throughout my childhood and then got it on my thighs for a while too. I found that mine was WORST during the winter and when I consumed processed, gluten, and dairy containing foods.

Thankfully, mine has pretty much receded in the past 6 months...yay!!! For me, I completely eliminated non-paleo foods, stopped using soap to scrub the bumps, and got lots and lots of sun exposure. I also found that not wearing tight clothes in the problem areas helps as well.

Hope some of this helps!

10878 · August 23, 2012 at 4:23 AM

Vitamin C for corkscrew hair sydrome

How much FCLO are you taking? Are you getting a lot of Vitamin K2 too? I'm doing the high vitamin butter oil PLUS Mk-4 (about 10 mg/ 2 carlson brand) and 1 90mcg mk7 by Jarrow a day. Then transdermal magnesium and oral.

Oh and per recommendation from Mellisa McEwen's blog I started taking showers in lukewarm to cool water. Really makes a huge difference.

285 · September 08, 2012 at 5:54 PM

I don't have much to add here.

I had KP for 30+ yrs. I had other skin issues [plaque psoriasis and celiac HP], so this was something I never paid much attention. I did try a number of lotions with limited success [eucerin, cortizone, glycolic acid [AHA], lactic acid cream, and others].

And then 2+ yrs ago I started strict AI-protocol paleo, and it just went away.

Vit D, and shorter, cooler showers with mild soap followed by a good moisturizer [I use coconut oil] are all good suggestions, but your primary focus should be on going strict paleo for 30 days: absolutely no grains, dairy, legumes, industrial seed oils, added sugars, etc. and if you are having success, only then start re-introducing potentially problematic foods like dairy and chocolate.

Good Luck.

606 · August 23, 2012 at 5:32 AM

I concur with some of the answers already here, most especially the avoidance of hot water and soaps (even 'natural' soap alternatives).

I was surprised just how effective it is, after years of bad skin - why didn't someone tell me earlier?!

Go lukewarm or cold if you can stand it (even just some cold at the end will help build up your tolerance). I find this very hard in winter, so my symptoms are always worse in winter, but this just shows me that the lukewarm or cold water idea works.

A bit of exfoliation with a cloth is good too, and some sunshine when you can get it (another reason why my symptoms are worse in winter), not sure if Vit D supplementation helps, I think the improvement is more to do with the actual UV rays, although I have no articles to support this, just personal experience. I am taking 4000 Vit D3 at the moment (it's winter here) and can't say it's had much effect on my skin. It always looks its best in summer when I'm happy to take cool showers and get as much sun as I can (without burning of course).

10 · July 12, 2013 at 9:01 AM

I've had KP for about 23 years now... maybe more. The only 2 times in my life that it went completely away were-

First, when I was a teenager, my parents/doc put me on Prednisone (a steroid) to clear up a strange rash that I had gotten from an allergic reaction that I had to a wooden necklace. Since the rash had gone systemic, i.e. my whole body flared up, I was put on Prednisone, which did clear up the rash and 100% of the KP. The KP returned once I was off the medication.

Second time it cleared up 100% - I was doing a 4 week colon cleanse. The only thing I ate during the cleanse were vegetables and fruit (cooked, raw and juiced). Once I finished the cleanse and resumed my "regular" diet, the rash slowly returned.

I plan on eliminating gluten and dairy completely for 6 weeks to see if I get any improvement. I'll post again if I notice anything.

I should also mention -- my KP improved about 80% when I was taking a fermented cod liver oil supplement + butter oil while I was pregnant. I was also eating gluten-free about 95% of the time.... not sure exactly what caused the improvement.

MATT -- If you're reading this, can you please comment or post as to how much liver you're consuming? I would rather not eat liver... Dr. Ron makes a desiccated liver supplement that I'd like to try. But I don't know how many capsules I would need to take in order to equal the amount I would be (ideally) eating (in order to supplement copper... and also vitamins A, D, + others).

Thanks, and good luck to everyone out there!

1321 · July 10, 2013 at 2:47 PM

27 year old male that has had KP his entire life but rarely really paid much notice to it (I didn't know what it was called until just recently). It is now all but gone. My biceps and middle back are completely clear of all KP that I can tell (my usual KP spots).

Unfortunately I cannot say what any given factor may have contributed to the disappearance. Vitamin and mineral repletion, exercise, stress control, et al. were all one lump project of mine so I cannot single out any one given variable.

10 · May 09, 2013 at 7:23 PM

i'm not a memeber here but i was doing an internet search to see if there were any other cases of gluten & kp. I tried gluten free for about 3 months recently (trying out a fad diet) & I swear i got rid of all of my kp. (i always thought it was excema until i just googled it) i have it on the outsides of my upper arms for basically all my life. ever since ive started back on gluten I got it back w/ a vengence. i just discovered this by chance because i googled it just now there are LOTSSSS of info about it. so i guess there must be something to it! ps... ive tried lotions, potions and all kinds of stuff that does NOTHING. in the summer if i go to the beach it gets less,, but never completely has gone away like it has while gluten free!

71 · May 03, 2013 at 5:52 PM

I have KP on my arms. I have been oil pulling for 3 months and using amlactin lotion in the morning and night. It has made a huge difference. It isn't 100% gone but it but I would its 80% better. Oil pulling grosses a lot of people out and I was extremely skeptical at first but the combination has been a huge help. I use virgin unrefined coconut oil.

Here is a link to an oil pulling form for treatment of KP.


40 · May 03, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Not a cure for me, but I recently was taking a few grams a day of MSM (for a muscle injury) and noticed by day 3 that my arms were almost completely smooth for the first time, well, ever. It came back when I stopped, of course. My KP got very bad after I gave birth, so I suspect it is nutritional, I just haven't been able to figure it out (A, D, K2, fish oils, etc. have had no effect).

10 · March 26, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Really interesting answers above. I have had KP on backs of thighs up to bum since my late teens following weight gain and a poor vegetarian diet high in sugar. I now eat lots of fish and follow a lazy paleo diet - dairy too, no grains.I take a quality fish oil supplement and magnesium. Also zinc. There is no consistency to the flare-ups. It rarely disappears totally. I have treated it with topical retinol gel (no difference), Urea emollient cream (good but so messy), emollient baths and I exfoliate it in water - not soap. It is only better after sleep in the morning. Stress seems to exaccerbate it. Tight clothes don't help and getting hot and sweaty deffo makes it flare up. It is also much improved after fasting. Had an 80% clear-up after existing on brown rice and eggs, green tea and black coffee for a few days. Does anybody know if it links to hormones? The fact that fasting works implies it's dietary. Like another reader mentioned, backs of arms and thighs can be quite fatty places, so could it be linked to body fat here and a build up of hormone/toxins/insulin?

998 · August 23, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Cutting gluten and dairy and eating paleo reduced my extensive KP by like 90%. I can eat a little bit of dairy occasionally, say, yogurt once or twice a week, without it giving me too much again. The right topical regimen (no soap, occasional exfoliation) and moisturizers (almond oil or California Baby Sensitive Skin) helps me manage what's left - tops of thighs, a little on backs of calves but they are stubborn. I also intend to ask my dermatologist about using a strong lactic acid (50%) next spring to get my leg pores open for summer. Makes sweating easier...

KP is not usually located on the upper back. It's mostly an arms and legs kind of thing. Due to the unusual location and its correlation with the bread binging, I'd say you have your answer or are at least closing in. My suggestion would be to go completely gluten, sugar, and dairy free for a while, like 6 to 8 weeks. Then add one back in (if you really must) and only one to see what it might trigger.

157 · August 23, 2012 at 4:33 AM

That looks very much like what I have but have never put a name to it. I stopped all dairy and it went away.

10 · August 23, 2012 at 4:02 AM

I have it to, really bad, and I haven't found any answer (been strict Paleo for 9mths now). I also exfoliate and use moisturiser, which improves the texture, but I'm still left red and blotchy....

11664 · August 23, 2012 at 2:49 AM

Mine comes and goes and haven't really pinpointed the cure, but I think avoiding long hot showers and lots of exfoliation and moisturizing helps. Avene makes a cream called Akerat specifically for this condition which I am using and like.

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0 · January 23, 2014 at 7:17 AM

I'm sure there is already plenty of good nutrition advice about KP in this thread. For me, it lessened with age (I'm 34) but the main thing was acceptance. The mind makes these things worse than they need to be, try to accept it and not let the mind run away with judgements because in truth, nobody else is really all that bothered.

2923 · January 23, 2014 at 1:17 AM

I went to the other side of the world for a few months and after vein back noticed what was on the back of my upper arms and front of legs is now mostly gone… Lots of things changed inc source of water and I barely ate any meat (but added in a lot of wheat, legumes and some dairy…Like with Ashley Roze, Water usage patterns might be a reason...I did not wash under running water for any of that time (or do any intense exercise, so maybe it was a rest my body needed

'Paleo' maybe didn't do so much. A more liberal mentality perhaps did different strokes for different folks understanding one's own biochemistry/individual body is what 'pale' really is about imho not avoiding this pro that food or eating lots of this...

0 · August 28, 2013 at 11:25 PM

I absolutely believe KP is a dietary issue. I've personally tried the different lotions/exfoliating/cold showers, sun exposure, etc and have had zero to limited success. In cutting all common allergens and problem foods out of my diet (dairy, wheat, corn, soy, eggs, most nuts, nightshades, citrus, sugar) for a month I noticed a crazy improvement in my skin (along with a huge improvement in energy). I haven't been able to determine yet which food exactly is causing my bumps, but working on eliminating them individually now.

I've suffered from KP all of my life, with the chicken bumps on my thighs, bum, stomach, and backs of my arms. I also get bigger, more pimply looking bumps on the tops of my upper arms and forearms, and around my knees and lower legs. These are the worst scarring ones, but the first to go away when I clean up my diet. I do get it less noticeably on my cheeks as well, but I can feel it more than see it.

I realize that while some people have had success with different lotions, tanning, etc, this is always only temporary. The common complaint is that as soon as they stop it always comes back. To any friends that ask about KP, I always recommend looking at diet. I think KP should be healed from the inside as treating the bumps themselves is curing the symptom, not the problem. If your KP can be cleared with diet, your sensitivity to a food is probably causing other internal issues that your lotion is not going to fix.

Many people have suggested it can't be dietary as it's hereditary. An explanation I've seen for this is that the hereditary component of KP is how our bodies deal with toxins, not the KP itself.

I do intend to look more into the copper deficiency as I've never heard of that one before, as well as the connection between KP and fatty areas. Thanks for the suggestions!

18236 · July 10, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Most people know that Keratosis Pilaris is excess Keratin in the skin. When the keratin surrounds the hair follicles within the pore, it causes hyperkeratinization, which is materialized by a sort of "hard cap" overtop of a hair follicle. This is why the hairs cannot penetrate the skin surface. Then if you pick at the tiny litlle bump and in a sense "remove" the keratin buildup, it reveals what appears to be a tiny ingrown hair.

It's interesting to read about all the different ideas and trials here. Everything from more VitA to more Copper to Grain/Gluten/Dairy issues. Some people say sunlight helps. Some say avoiding hot showers. What a wide array of answers, right?

I gotta say... it's rather disappointing, knowing that of all the Dermatologists out there, of all the information gathered and now available on Keratosis Pilaris, we still don't have a rock solid understanding of it's cause and, more importantly, a foolproof way to beat it. You'd think that by now, we would have this world wide issue properly defeated, since it's sounds so simple... excess keratin protein in the skin.

My answer here is simply my thoughts on the matter. I don't have the solution any more than the next person, but I appreciate the thread.

10 · July 10, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Chris Kresser recently released some information about KP being caused by a vitamin A deficiency. I have been taking cod liver oil for vitamin A and D since and it has worked. Dosage might be trial and error...

428 · May 03, 2013 at 3:51 AM

When I was ~13, I had mild KP on my arms and legs. My derm gave me a Glytone body wash and lotion. I was never very strict about using them, though. Shaving my legs always made the KP on my legs worse, but waxing really helped. If my KP were to return, I would scrub with a washcloth and maybe soak in a long bath. Not sure if those things are actually tried-and-true methods, but they helped me. I don't know if I can attribute the disappearance of KP to a change in my diet (now that I think about it, my KP did disappear when I went from SAD to Slow Carb.. hmm...) but my skin in general has definitely improved since I got strict with Paleo. Good luck!

0 · May 02, 2013 at 5:06 PM

I have definitely come to the conclusion that KP is primarily if not entirely dietarily driven. Like many here I've used a variety of creams and solutions but none has really worked. They have helped but not cured anything. I've heard of good results, for certain people, with increasing vitamin A. For some this does nothing but I figure it's a low cost thing to try for awhile. I have also considered tanning because I actually know that's effective but just haven't done it since I feel a bit odd as a guy tanning and it can be mildly expensive.

Regardless I wonder if it's dairy related for me. We cut out regular milk a long time ago and only drink almond or soy now. I did do Keto for quite some time and saw some reasonable results as far as weight loss but I'm not really convinced. That said in retrospect I saw little difference in my skin. One would think with a high fat no grain diet that would've helped. Which makes me think it's dairy related. Obviously keto is heavy in dairy (cheese, cream, etc). So I think I'm going to eliminate dairy for a few weeks and see what happens.

Just curious but what does sugar have to do with anything? I would think as long as it's natural sugar it wouldn't really affect anything.

Also does anyone have any input on whether taking a probiotic would help or if this would be good in general? I have GURD and take omeprazole which works well. But I have thought about doing a probiotic and cleaning things out to see how that goes. I tried one once and I felt horrible and stopped. So not sure if I should try it again. Also is there a difference between a probiotic and a cleanse? Should you cleanse then start probiotics?

Thanks everyone!

10 · April 05, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Some results in 7 days. Keratosis is the best it has been in 10 months - almost clear:

  • Cut out all wheat, grains and sugar for a week. Limited dairy (butter, yogurt but no milk)
  • Increased fresh local fish consumption and added a quality pure fish oil supplement daily
  • Increased exercise levels - not strenuous, just walking and some stretches
  • Discovered the amaaaaazing Cetaphil moisturising lotion. Wow. Absolutely amazing and better than any Urea-based cremes
  • Have exfoliated the area daily and properly, adding Cetaphil while skin is moist
  • Have had some sun - not directly on the affected area, but it might have helped

As all this has cleared up 90% my condition and I am amazed!

0 · April 03, 2013 at 2:20 AM

Thanks for all of your posts. I have a question for those of you who stated that you are not using soap...well what do you use??? I watched an episode of, "the doctors," who suggested that kp suffers use anti-dandruff shampoo... my skin is certainly smoother... in a very dry way. Going to start the whole Paleo diet too!! yippee!!! can't wait!!

777 · February 23, 2013 at 9:46 AM

I have KP on my outer/rear thighs & find that it is most reduced after a good nights sleep which implies rest & fasting are good for it.

I made a question about it the other day as in the shower while washing my frying pan my hands got really greasy, i rubbed them onto the KP & it totally disappeared overnight, but now is back worse then ever, the trick hasn't worked as well since.

I don't think its a coincidence that my thighs are the fattiest part of my body, and as im losing/burning fat at the mo maybe its related.

I find it weird it can practically disappear then the next day its suddenly back with a vengance.

Im going to do 30 days only meat/fish/eggs & light veggies, the more animal fat i eat the better my skin is generally, so im sure it will help.

0 · February 23, 2013 at 6:34 AM

Hello Everyone,

Let me share my story with you. I immigrated to Canada 11 years ago, and I started noticing the red bumps on my upper arms the first year. Slowly moved down to my legs and now my shoulders are covered too. Very bother some looking. I had two c-sections and right after the operations I was receiving IV for 2 days.I did not eat 36 hours after the surgery. My skin was shockingly smooth, beautiful and NO red dots or bumps on it. I could not believe it. After i went home and started my regular diet including wheat, dairy and sugar. My KP has come back on the 3rd day.Should I do the Paleo diet? Thanks.

115 · November 10, 2012 at 10:10 PM

Had KP ever since I can remember. I use glycolic acid and that helps a lot, have a friend who started making her own soap and that cured it.

60 · August 23, 2012 at 9:33 PM

Thanks so much for your resonses. I currently have started cold baths and showers actually so hopefully that will help. The non-paleo diet definitely has to go. Its just a bit of a constant battle with chocolate binges!!

Apparantly it can appear on upper back though not the red type, just the white small bump type. In rare cases, or in my case when you eat a bucketload of something you shouldnt be.


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