I love almost everything about winter. Winter fashion, cold mornings, electric blankets, ugg boots. Unfortunately, winter also signals the return of dry skin on our bodies which for those with keratosis pilaris (KP) is a year long battle. If you suffer from a similar fate read on to find out more about KP and my tips for avoiding the reptilian look.
Keratosis pilaris, also known by its street name “chicken skin”, are those little spots and bumps that roughly 40%-50% of us have on the back of our arms, legs but also on the chest, neck and back. It’s a genetic skin condition caused by the overproduction of keratin which creates little plugs in the hair follicle that look a bit like pimples or whiteheads.
I’ve had KP all my life and it took me a long time to come to terms with the next fact.
There is no known cure for keratosis pilaris.
Don’t be alarmed, it is not a life threatening condition but it can be unsightly, itchy and mess with your confidence. If it’s bothering you, then there are measures that you can take to improve the appearance and texture of your skin. It’s a matter of following a maintenance regime and establishing good habits to keep the bumps at bay.
So without further ado, below are my tips for those with dry skin or KP.
Turn down the heat.
Picture hot water melting your skin’s natural oils like butter. This is what happens when we take scorching hot showers or baths. It’s not what anyone wants to hear in the middle of winter, but if you’re red like a lobster after you’ve showered or bathed then sadly the water temperature is too high. By turning down the heat just a little you will help your skin immensely.
What’s in your body wash or soap?
Dry skin does not like drying ingredients such as SLS which is used as a lathering agent in a lot of off-the-shelf body washes. There are heaps of natural, affordable, nourishing body washes and soaps out there so next time you’re near a health food store drop in and take a look at their selection. My favourite is MooGoo Milk Wash which I’ve been using for over 10 years.
Picking at the keratin plugs will leave a scar which means you will have tiny scars AND bumps covering your skin. It’s easy to get carried away and be left looking like a minefield (been there!) but Rosehip Oil can help to fade the scars and add additional moisture.
Exfoliate with caution.
You see dry flakes and you want to scrub them to within an inch of their life, but go easy. I use the Eco by Sonya Extreme Exfoliating Mitt (it’s as extreme as you make it) along with the Salt by Hendrix Body Scrub. Both products do the work for you, so you don’t have to scrub too vigorously. Aim to exfoliate twice a week.
This is a no brainer. Dryness can exacerbate KP and after your shower or bath you want to get the moisture back into your skin straight away. You should be aiming to moisturise at least twice a day.
Twice a week I like to use a body oil at night time, such as the Li’tya Rejuvenating Body Oil which I apply while the skin is still damp. Other nights I mix it up with Weleda Skin Food, Bare Botanics Bump & Stretch Buttercreme or BYBI Beauty Babe Balm.
A good KP-specific lotion is the Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion (please note the packaging has changed). It contains lactic acid and urea which help to re-texturise skin and these two ingredients are often used in dermatologists’ treatment plans for KP sufferers. I’ve tried lots of lotions in my time and this is the one that has made my skin the smoothest. It’s light, easy to spread, paraben free and also comes in a fragrance free version.
See a dermatologist.
I haven’t gone down this route because I have come to terms with the fact that my KP is not going away and I’m relatively happy with the way it’s looking these days. If you’re not satisfied with the results from over the counter or at home remedies then maybe it’s time to consult your general practitioner or specialist to talk about your concerns.
I hope that these tips will help you to keep dry skin at bay. It’s a matter of consistency and it can be time consuming but perhaps by finding some products that you really enjoy using, you might find yourself looking forward to the ritual.
I would love to hear about how your KP and dry skin remedies have worked for you so please get in touch or leave a comment below.
Next week: My top 3 brow products.