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 benefits of turmeric and lavender essential oil.
Use the Right Ingredients
This recipe for keratosis pilaris cream uses baking soda and several other natural ingredients to exfoliate the skin. All ingredients have 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, see below.)
- 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.
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
- 2 TBSP baking soda
- 1/8 tsp citric acid (to balance the pH)
- 1 TBSP Himalayan sea salt
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 3 TBSP unrefined coconut oil
- 1 TBSP sweet almond or other liquid carrier oil of choice
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- In a small bowl combine all of the ingredients and stir thoroughly. As you stir, the coconut oil will become creamier in consistency.
- Stir until well combined, then store it in a glass jar.
- 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!
Discussion (90 Comments)
Can lemon juice be used instead of citric acid?
Katie - Wellness Mama
No, it won’t work the same…
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.
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.
I find that if I vigorously scrub affected areas every time I shower, the bumps disappear. When I slack off, they return.
Tumeric is also a potent yellow dye.
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!!!!!
Katie - Wellness Mama
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).
You may also want to evaluate your laundry detergent… it can cause reactions and especially if its on areas where your clothes touch directly or tightly… and I found if I use anything other than straight coconut oil as a moisturizer on it it will get worse… and other body products are a no go… even clean healthy ones will inflame it.
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
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.
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.
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!