Keratosis Pilaris. Also commonly referred to as KP or chicken skin. Put more simply, those annoying little bumps on the back of your arms. If you have them you know what I am talking about. If you don't, you are lucky, and I am jealous. I have struggled with them for years. I was told by various dermatologists that they were hereditary and would never go away. For a long time I believed this and just tried to ignore them. I took my dermatologist's advice and washed with a gentle soap, and applied the various topical creams and emollients that they recommended. However, instead of getting better, overtime they turned into the pustular form of KP. Think acne-like lesions with white heads that were often painful as they were coming in. In hindsight I realize this started happening when my bowel symptoms were at their worst, but I never made that connection until more recently. Again, I figured there wasn't anything I could do about these annoying, ugly bumps and just tried to ignore them. Until a few months ago....
In August I finally decided it was time that I try and actually do something to heal my KP. And I have had amazing results in just 3 short months (see my photos below). So I decided to put together a series of posts to help you heal your own KP. Because trust me, you can!
Note: You will see in the photos that I still have some residual scars from when my KP was severe, and my next mission is to work on reducing those as well.
Before Treatment (many red and angry looking lesions)
3 Months Later (residual scarring)
The Keys To Healing KP
Exfoliation. I cannot say enough about this. Exfoliation can do wonders for your skin! How I didn't realize this earlier I do not know. But I am a total believer now.
Exfoliation is the process used to remove dead skin cells from the skin's surface. There are both mechanical and topical ways to exfoliate. I have been using both to help heal my KP.
There are a number of benefits to exfoliating your skin including:
- Increasing cell turnover
- Detoxifying the skin
- Getting rid of dead, dull skin cells
- Improving skin tone
- Killing bacteria and helping prevents breakouts/rashes
- Improving topical product penetration and treatment results
So how have I been exfoliating? First, I have been using dry brushing everyday, and second I have been using a scrub on my arms once a week. I have used both Neal's Yard Remedies Frankincense and Mandarin Body Polish as well as Beautycounter's Lustro Sugar Scrub and would recommend either product. They both smell amazing, and leave my skin feeling so soft and smooth. But a little more about dry brushing since I know this is a new concept for many of you. Dry brushing is the process of rubbing your dry skin with a hard bristled brush. Sounds a bit crazy doesn't it? But there are so many benefits of doing this to your skin! So many in fact that I will have to do an entire post dedicated solely to dry brushing in the future. But in terms of healing KP there are a few ways it is beneficial:
- It sloughs off dead, dry skin to improve skin's appearance and allows moisturizer to penetrate more effectively
- It improves the movement of lymph fluid into the local lymph nodes to help remove waste products
In order to dry brush you first need to have the proper brush. One with a long handle, and firm bristles. I use this one made by Bernard Jensen. You can also find body brushes at most health food stores or spas (just be willing to pay a pretty penny at some of these places). I dry brush first thing in the morning before I shower, but you can do it any time of day. Simply start at your feet, and move the brush in vertical/upward movements over your skin. Slowly work your way up and over your whole body. Simple as that. It only takes a few minutes and your skin should feel smoother immediately. The first time you do this you may not like the sensation of those hard bristles on your skin (I sure didn't) but once you do it a few times you actually start to enjoy feeling.
Proper skin moisturization is key to healing your KP. But you need to make sure you are moisturizing with the right products. Think natural, chemical and toxin-free products. Because remember, your skin has the second largest surface area of any organ in your body (after your gut) and anything that you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream within seconds. So if you are putting toxins on your skin, they are getting into your body. And instead of helping heal your skin, your body will have to fight off those toxins, ultimately doing more harm than good. So please go and throw out those prescription or store bought lotions and potions immediately. Your body will thank you I promise!
A great alternative to the Beauty Balm is Beautycounter's Nourishing Cleansing Balm. Both of these products are extremely moisturizing, without being greasy!
Jojoba oil is a great choice for natural skin care because it is the only oil that resembles human sebum (an oily substance that is naturally produced by your skin), which means it doesn't clog your pores. It not only moisturizes, but also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, all of which are helpful in healing KP (and many other skin conditions). I add lavender essential oil (which also promotes skin healing) to my jojoba oil and apply this to my arms after I shower. If I'm at home I will also apply it throughout the day. I notice a difference in my skin if I miss just one or two days of this. It's that powerful.
The other products that I cannot say enough about are Neal's Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty and Beautycounter's Nourishing Cleansing Balm. These products have been key in helping heal my KP. They both contain many organic oils and butters as well as many healing essential oils. I use these products interchangeably and apply one of them every night before I go to sleep for some deeply nourishing and healing moisturization.
That's it! Those are the external steps I have been using to heal my KP. It really hasn't been that hard, and I wish that I had started this mission sooner. Hindsight is always 20/20 isn't it? My next set of posts will focus on the dietary strategies that are key for healing KP, as well as the supplements and mind-body interventions that have so helpful for me.
** Update (May 2016): I have now posted my dietary strategies for healing KP from the inside out.
Click here to be taken to that post!
If you have any questions, as always please let me know! I am always happy to chat and love hearing from you guys!
Until next time, happy eating!
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This post contains links to certain products, and by clicking on these links I may make a small percentage of the purchase value. These earnings help me keep Pure and Simple Nourishment running and I truly appreciate your support. I was also gifted a jar of Neal's Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm to help with this post, but am not monetarily affiliated with this brand and make no money if you click on the Neal's Yard Remedies links.