Soothing Keratosis Pilaris Exfoliating Cream (DIY Recipe)

Keratosis Pilaris Exfoliating Cream-DIY Recipe

Have you ever noticed unsightly little red bumps on your skin? If so, they may be a condition called keratosis pilaris. Conventional treatments for the issue can be rather harsh on the skin, but there are natural options. This keratosis pilaris exfoliating cream helps moisturize and exfoliate for clearer skin.

What Is Keratosis Pilaris?

Also nicknamed “chicken skin,” keratosis pilaris is an unsightly skin condition that manifests as red patches and bumps. It resembles goosebumps and appears most often on the back of the arms and thighs. They feel rough like sandpaper and are very small, about the size of a salt grain. Sometimes they occur on the face and can be mistaken for acne. There may also be redness around the bumps that varies from light pink to bright red.

What Causes Keratosis Pilaris?

No one is exactly sure what triggers these little red bumps, but certain groups of people and those with dry skin are more prone to them. Pregnant women, overweight people, and those with eczema or dry skin are more likely to have keratosis pilaris.

Skin naturally contains the protein keratin, and about 50% of us are genetically predisposed to overproducing this protein. When excess keratin becomes trapped inside the hair follicle, it forms a rough, raised plug. These clogged hair follicles then cause inflammation, turning the surrounding skin red.

How to get rid of Chicken Skin

Since the hair follicles are plugged with excessive keratin, gently exfoliating the area will help clear them out. (Don’t use anything too rough however, as that can just further irritate the skin.) It’s also important to moisturize the skin, as the problem is caused by overly dry skin in the first place. Using anti-inflammatory products will soothe the skin and tame the accompanying redness.

Conventional treatments typically involve steroids, but here we’re using the potent anti-inflammatory plant turmeric and lavender essential oil.

Use the Right Ingredients

This recipe for keratosis pilaris cream uses baking soda to exfoliate the skin. It has a finer particle size that’s gentler and very cleansing for dry skin.

Baking soda has a very high pH of 9 though, which makes it very alkalizing. Long-term this can cause a problem, as skin is naturally acidic with a pH that ranges between 4 to 5.5. Citric acid makes the mixture more skin-friendly, with its pH of 2.2 to help balance the recipe out. (Just make sure to look for non-GMO citric acid.)

Some Himalayan sea salt provides extra exfoliating power and nourishes the skin with dozens of minerals. Turmeric powder also provides some exfoliation but primarily decreases inflammation. Lavender essential oil further soothes irritated skin and decreases inflammation.

Unrefined coconut oil rounds out the recipe to hold it all together and get that creamy consistency. Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, an intense fatty acid that helps break up excess keratin.

Apply Consistently

It’s important to use this cream consistently to improve the appearance of keratosis pilaris, a few times a week or even daily for those prone to frequent outbreaks. Well exfoliated skin will be less likely to accumulate the dead skin cells and keratin that plug hair follicles.

Keratosis Pilaris Cream Recipe



  1. In a small bowl combine all of the ingredients and stir thoroughly. As you stir, the coconut oil will become creamier in consistency.
  2. Stir until well combined, then store it in a glass jar.
  3. To use, thoroughly rub the cream over the affected area, then rinse with warm water.

Tips for Using

  • Coconut oil may be too heavy a moisturizer for some facial skin types. Some people seem to do really well with it, while others get bad breakouts when using it on the face. You can follow the cream up with a gentle soap if you find that it doesn’t agree with you. Alternatively, you can omit the coconut oil entirely and use 2 tablespoons of another oil like olive oil.
  • Those with very light colored skin may find that the turmeric gives their skin a yellow tinge. If that happens, wash the keratosis pilaris cream off with soap, which should take care of it.

Are you affected by keratosis pilaris? Have you ever found a remedy, and what did you use? I’d love to hear!


Ever notice little red bumps on the backs of your arms? It is a skin condition called keratosis pilaris. Learn how to make a simple cream to combat it.

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Reader Comments

  1. The bumps maybe due to low Vit A and fish oil…..due to being Celiac. Tests may not work to diagnose Celiac. No gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/GMO…taking vitamins/good oils/minerals…probiotic…LDN…detoxing may help. Far Infrared Sauna may help detox/open up pores. Fish oil may help pores. People can heal. Thyroid maybe low also in the people. Gluten may make antibodies to the thyroid, Amour thyroid may help.

    • Interesting as mine have virtually gone with all you have mentioned! I’ve also been doing detox protocols with my ND, using homeopathy, etc. I’m now on good fish oil, no gluten, Naturethroid, etc.

      • That is great! I had it in childhood and also noticed it on other people. I wish I knew back then about Celiac. I was born Celiac. Tests may not work to diagnose Celiac. No gluten helps more nutrients/good oils absorb. Detoxing is needed since gluten may affect the thyroid/liver/all glands. The liver may not detox and low thyroid may let cholesterol go too high. Far Infrared Sauna helps me new and sweating in the sunlight. Sunlight/Vit D3 5000IU helps me. Celiac is due to low sunlight which may cause autoimmune issues.

        • “new”= “now”. I now have Lyme which the Far Infrared Sauna helps kill besides helping detox heavy metals/chemicals/kill coinfections/kill yeast/detox endotoxins and sweat opens the pores.

    • Thank you for bringing up all these good points Shasha. After a 16 year battle with intestinal issues and a whole lot of misdiagnosis, I was finally diagnosed with a wheat allergy and shortly after celiac disease. I had mild KP when I was a kid, mostly in the winter. Growing up in northern Maine it was common. I had a couple major surgeries 5 years ago, due to a motor vehicle accident and after my incisions and cuts healed my KP came back, grr. I recently started taking a very good vitamin A supplement as well as an omega 3-6-9. I haven’t noticed a dramatic change yet but, it has definitely improved. I believe I have thyroid problems as well, but my GP at the local VA keeps testing only my TSH levels. I’m definitely going to make and try this homemade KP cream today. Thank you so much Katie you have been a godsend for me and my son the past few years. I appreciate all the hard work you do for everyone.

      • Hi, You are welcome! Thanks for your validations! 10,000IU of Vit A is all I need. I can’t go Omega 9…clogs my blood vessels. TSH is only how the brain works…it pituitary may not make TSH. Find a new doctor for thyroid. Gluten can make antibodies to the thyroid. Ask at the pharmacy who gives Amour thyroid. They may help or ask for the name of an Alternative doctor. Alternative doctors may charge $125 a half hour, but are worth it to get the help. One place advertises they don’t go by TSH on the internet also. Gluten may lower Vit A and many other nutrients the brain/body need. Thyroid needs Vit A and Zn/Se/enough iron/probiotic and more. Dr. Jockers has good internet information about thyroid. Suzy Cohen has a great book about thyroid. I also need HCl and enzymes with meals/fish oil 2000mg/Mg/Vit D3 5000IU/Vit B12 methylcobalamin with intrinsic factor/rhodiola/coenyzme Q10/evening primrose oil/lecithin/phosphatidylserine/DMAE/CLA and more. God bless!

  2. I have it! And I even didn’t know the name. It was more lumpy and bumpy in childhood (I was a little bit round) and once my GP gave me some oily, smelly cream that hasn’t approved nothing. Thanks to Your diet and skincare influence it ain’t that bad now. Great article! I will definitely give it a go. Best wishes from New Zealand.

  3. This seems like a great exfoliant! My only concern is the use of coconut oil – when you rinse it off and it goes down the drain, does it have any negative affects on the drainage system? I know with oil-pulling, you have to spit the coconut oil in the garbage can. What about in this situation? Thanks!

    • I wipe it off with a paper towel first before rinsing it off. This way a lot less oil will end up down the drain.

  4. I easily got rid of my longstanding case when I learned about Vitamin A,, fish liver sourced, not dangerous synthetic A. It has been gone for almost 40 years. My hands are also very soft and I rarely need hand lotion. Keeps my face great too as far as pimples. Just a few of its many important functions in and on the body!

    • Yes…fish kind is good. I take 10,000IU of Vit A. Cod liver oil may have a higher amount of Vit A and has Vit D. Zn with Vit A helps get Vit A out of storage in the liver. Vit A also helps the blood brain barrier/gut lining/kidneys/eyes/membranes. I may go back to Cod liver oil. The ocean has pollution/radiation. Pray the oceans and all pollution will stop. God bless!

    • Do you just take a high grade Vit A supplement each day? Very interesting. Thanks for sharing

  5. Katie, are there any herbs you recommend for it? Like a daily tincture I can make to help with the inflammation? Going to make this cream today! Thank you! I’ve had KP my whole life and it’s BAD entire legs, butt, hips, arms…. my mom and grandma had it and all 3 of my kids have it….. ? I hate it!!!!!

    • Sorry to hear you struggle with it. I’ve found with my own inflammation issues that an overall approach works best for me. My skin and thyroid feel best when I’m on a low inflammation diet (avoiding most flours, sugars, sweeteners, vegetable oils, etc and eating a lot of vegetables, healthy proteins and fats).

  6. Tumeric is also a potent yellow dye.

  7. I find that if I vigorously scrub affected areas every time I shower, the bumps disappear. When I slack off, they return.

  8. My 18 month old son has had it since he was 6 months old. At one point, it was severe. Allergy testing showed nothing. I took him off dairy and gluten for 3 full months with no improvement. The only thing that improved it almost completely!? Coconut oil 2-3 times daily! I also began adding the “Gentle Baby” essential oil from Young Living into the coconut oil and have seen a big difference!

    • Using coconut oil topically or internally (ingesting it)?

    • Coconut oil may help heal his intestines as it sinks into his circulation. It is hard to be 100% gluten/dairy free. Hidden gluten is common and can in the the air/lotions/food with a label even if not listed on the food. Gluten is wheat/barley/rye…oats/corn/rice. Gluten is not an allergy. It is autoimmune. Sunlight also helps autoimmune issues. Pure organic foods help me. Best wishes.

  9. Gluten may take more than 6 months to get totally out of the brain/body. Hidden gluten and GMO may hurt the gut lining. Coconut oil may help heal the gut lining gluten hurts so it may help more nutrients absorb.

  10. Can lemon juice be used instead of citric acid?

  11. Just made a batch. Seems like it would be a good general scrub for addressing a variety of skin irritations.

  12. Natures’ Way- Vit A 10,000IU is from a natural source and works well for me along with Zn. Higher doses were too high for me.

    • I love all of this. The Natures Way pills have soybean oil, do you have any other brands you recommend that are soy free?

      • HI, You are right. I didn’t notice that. Nature’s Way 10,000IU is the dose I need and very few others have this dose. I went too high in dose once and it hurt my liver. Zn helps get Vit A out of the liver. I get my vitamins on Amazon recently. Nature’s Way brand has been better than other brands in many vitamins in how it works in me. You can try Cod liver oil which has Vit D and Vit A, but a higher amount of Vit A maybe. You don’t want synthetic Vit A.

  13. Can you recommend a replacement for the Turmeric? I have a sensitivity to it! Thank you.

  14. Is there a good substitute for turmeric?

  15. Did you apply the coconut oil to the skin?

  16. I have noticed that every time I swim in the ocean, it clears up. But I’m looking forward to trying this. I also tried cutting out dairy & wheat for 3 months. Not one difference.

    • Gluten is wheat/barley/rye…oats/corn/rice…can’t just eliminate wheat and there is hidden gluten. Some people are grain free. If the ocean helped with it’s minerals that means your intestines may not be absorbing minerals. If you have ridges on your finger nails it means minerals are low in your body. It took 1 1/2 months to heal my intestines after hidden gluten and may take 6 months for all issues from gluten to stop. Gluten may hurt intestines so vitamins/minerals/good oils/nutrients don’t absorb. All nutrients are needed for the brain/body to work right. Vit D from the sunlight may help heal the intestines/stop autoimmune attacks on the gut lining etc. …then Vit A etc can absorb.

  17. I’ve found that dry brushing if some consistently has some improvement on my KP on my arms, too. I will try your recipe!

  18. Katie,
    Your instructions say to use it on affected areas then rinse. Do you mean rinse the area (you’ve just applied the cream to) or rinse your hands? Thank you!!

  19. Would you agree that food may cause KP? I have it & so does my 14 month old. I don’t know if it’s more persistent because he’s drinking cows milk or having wheat in his diet. We’ve tried every milk alternative & he hates them all. Just curious before I start trying to eliminate things to see if there is an improvement. Overall we’re pretty healthy eaters but do occasionally enjoy a goldfish cracker!

  20. Hi, Any gluten may hurt a person for 1 1/2 months or longer. You may have been low in nutrients when pregnant. Cows milk is not alive. When people are hurt by gluten, dairy may also hurt. I got seizures from dairy. I stopped dairy 10 years before I stopped gluten. Gluten is wheat/barley/rye…oats/corn/rice. Some people are grain free. Premade gluten free food/nuts not sold in the shell/meat basting/some spices/food with a label may hurt. Organic pure foods may help. Casein/ certain fat may hurt. Some may handle cheese. Cheese hurt me. Some soft serve ice cream may have wheat in it. Weston Price site may help for kids. You can get chewable vitamins on Amazon. Cheating with gluten may hurt a person for a long time. I can have white rice, but it is very low in nutrients. No Grain No Pain by Peter Osborne is a great book. Best wishes.

    • Oats, corn & rice are GLUTEN free

      • Gluten is wheat/barley/rye…oats/corn/rice and more. They are different kinds of gluten. I can’t eat any of these except white rice which has no vitamins hardly. I used to eat them, but got low thyroid/depression/MS/liver didn’t detox well/burned out adrenals etc due to gluten. When I stopped gluten 100% in 2 weeks I had 1000X more energy and felt 20 years younger. Microscopic gluten hurts me now and hidden gluten. LDN/Glutenza help, but I have to avoid them now if I want my brain/body health to be ok. See the book by Peter Osborne No Grain No Pain. You can also see him on Youtube and Facebook talking about these. Best wishes.

        • I think you may be confusing two things. Other grains, like corn, rice, oats etc. are often cross-contaminated by wheat, because those crops are often grown close together or processed using the same machinery. So if you are gluten-sensitive, you may react to these grains, too. But they do not themselves include gluten. Read labels carefully. At least in the EU, the labels have to state if their is possible cross-contamination.

          • No… it is not cross contamination. It is a different kind of gluten. Corn hurts me/organic brown rice and oats rips open my stomach. Food with label may be contaminated even if it says certified gluten free which may have 20ppm of gluten. See Peter Osborne book NO grain/No pain…has a chart to show kinds of gluten or see him on Youtube etc where you can talk about it.

  21. I read somewhere that this is due to a deficiency in Omega 3 fatty acids. I had this for a long time and then after taking them (explains why some commenters above were helped by fish oil vit D) for a while, it went away. Just get a pure, natural source. It really does help a LOT.

  22. I had KP as a kid and was teased so much for it. I never found relief and it went away on its own as I became an adult. My son now has it. He is currently three. We had been doing a mix of coconut oil, lavender EO and sugar and I’d scrub his arms, legs and the patches on his face (carefully of course) and we saw a dramatic improvement. Your article peeked my interest again to start again with his skin. I’ll give your recipe a try because I’ve since learned the health benefits of some of the ingredients in your recipe. Thanks for the work that you do!

  23. I am allergic to lavendar. Is there another EO that can be used?

  24. I noticed that during each of my three pregnancies that my KP would go away on the back of my arms. My diet was horrible during all my pregnancies due to not feeling well and getting sick 6-8 times per a day. I’m almost sure that I was deficient in many vitamins. Something that I do to keep my KP under control now is shaving the back of my arms in the shower. When I dry off I take a dry wash cloth and rub the KP . A lot of dead skin comes off. Then put on moisturizer.

    • HI, My Hmong friend had morning sickness through her entire pregnancy due to eating gluten which lowers nutrients absorbed in the intestines. The mom gets drained of nutrients during pregnancy and the mom/baby maybe low in nutrients at the end of pregnancy which may cause depression. My son was ADHD due to me being undiagnosed Celiac. His hair was very dry due to be low in essential oils.
      You may have stopped the offending food during pregnancy? Untreated Celiac may destroy health more than bumps on arms. Gluten can be like Heroin and Sugar like cocaine so people may crave it and over eat it. People may eat and still be low in nutrients due to intestines not working. No gluten and Cod liver oil (has Vit A and D)/Zn/Vit C/fish oil 2000mg/Mg/Nature’s Plus- Source of life multiple/Vit B12 methylcobalamin with intrinsic factor/HCl and enyzmes meals/strong probiotic and more may help. Some people think getting the flu/colds/dry legs/bumps are normal, due to being born Celiac which affected them their whole life. Just removing the bumps doesn’t fix the other health issues gluten may also cause. Gluten may cause much suffering/pain in many ways. Doctors may not mention Celiac and tests may not work to diagnose it. Some people don’t want to stop eating gluten since they crave it, but it may hurt every cell of the brain/body which causes malfunction. Best wishes.

  25. I have KP, the only thing that helped me applying coconut oil topically every day. After using for a few months all the bumps on my arms r gone. Then dry brushing also help clear it.

  26. 2 of my 3 children have KP. Their dad has Celiac disease and we are a strictly gluten and dairy free household. (Just to say that they don’t have KP due to gluten/dairy exposure.) I have noticed their KP clears completely when we are eating a lot of liver, but it takes a lot, at least 3 servings a week. I do believe it’s related to nutritional deficiencies.

    • Hi,Yes,,,,,people may eat food/take supplements and still not absorb nutrients if they are Celiac since intestines are hurt. Liver contains the fat soluble Vitamins…A/D/E/K and Fe/Vit B12 and more which can be stored there. I can’t get myself to eat liver, but Cod liver oil capsules help me. My bumps are gone. Fish oil thins blood/opens pores and good oils…evening primrose oil/lecithin (defats the liver) etc may also help. Vit A helps membranes/skin/helps intestines heal so they absorb more nutrients. Gluten may hurt most people, but tests may not work to diagnose it. People can heal as they fix the root cause. Untreated Celiac may destroy the brain/body/cause many health issues in addition to the bumps on the back of arms etc.

  27. For those that have persistent KP that doesn’t seem to be affected by any dietary changes, and who also experience itching, it can be caused by demodex mites. Usually mites get out of control when the immune system is functioning below optimal levels. There are different causes for KP for sure. Hope everyone finds what works for them.

    • Hi, People may not have realized that gluten is more than wheat. It is wheat/barley/rye..oats/corn/rice and if they eat anything with a label there maybe contamination even if it doesn’t say gluten on it. Hidden gluten is common. Nuts not sold in the shell/meat basting/some spices/air/certified gluten free may have gluten. Gluten may make the immune system go down and intestines get hurt so less nutrients/good oils etc absorb. GMO may also hurt the intestines.

  28. Thanks so much for sharing this, Katie. Like some of the others who commented, I have had this all my life, but never knew what it was called. It seems to be better in the summer, but despite having tried many creams, supplements etc., it never goes away complete.y, so I am excited to try your recipe.

  29. You say that you’re supposed to rinse with warm water afterwards; do you think this would be a good thing to apply just before taking a shower?

  30. My husband was diagnosed with this as a child. When we went off all grains and dairy it completely went away. When we started eating these foods again it came right back.

  31. Katie, thanks for posting this! My son started getting KP badly at 6 months (he is now 2). He’s never had gluten or dairy. I try to give him fish oil although he often rejects it. Because it showed up around the same time that we introduced solids – does anyone know what other foods can cause it? Will also try the scrub. Thanks!

    • Gluten/GMO maybe in most foods with a label…hidden…not on the label. Certified gluten free may have 20pppm of gluten…is not 100% gluten free usually. Fish oil capsules is what I do as an adult. Rub fish oil on. There are chewable supplements on Amazon for fish oil and more. What do you feed him? There maybe wheat/gluten in soft serve ice cream/nuts not sold in the shell/meat basting/some spices/air/lotion etc. Best wishes.

  32. I apply creek clay up to 4 times. The bumps scab over. Then I just scratch them off. Feels great!

  33. Would this be safe to use when pregnant? I’ve read it isn’t safe to ingest Tumeric during pregnancy so I just thought I’d ask. Thanks.

    • Mary……The bumps maybe due to gluten which can hurt intestines so less nutrients absorb. A pregnant women needs to absorb nutrients for her and the fetus. Pregnancy drains the mom of nutrients to give to the baby. Fixing the root cause helps the mom/baby instead of just cosmetically removing the bumps. Low Vit A 10.000/fish oil/Mg/Zn and more due to would lower thyroid etc…A prenatal vitamin is not a very low dose of vitamins. A person needs good oils also. I can’t take turmeric. I would not experiment during pregnancy except take normal vitamins/good oils/minerals. Best wishes.

  34. Hi…Am about to try the exfoliating recipe for Keratosis Pilaris here. After the scrub is used and washed off, what kind of moisturizer would you recommend be applied to the washed off area?

    Thank you!

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