What Causes Keratosis Pilaris (Chicken Skin)

What Causes Keratosis Pilaris (Chicken Skin)

What is Keratosis Pilaris (Chicken Skin)

If you let your imagination run, the term keratosis pilaris could describe an arctic dinosaur or a distant star. But in reality, Keratosis Pilaris is a lot more simple than it sounds, and very common. Approximately 60% of people worldwide suffer from Keratosis Pilaris. Granted, the fact that these bumps are harmless does not make them any less annoying when you experience them.

Definition of Keratosis Pilaris

Keratosis Pilaris, also known as chicken skin, is condition that leads to harmless white bumps that appear anywhere on the body, most commonly the back of arms. 

How to Treat KP & Chicken Skin

The best way to naturally treat keratosis pilaris includes two important steps; exfoliation & hydration. The first step is to remove the excess build-up of keratin through exfoliation. The second is to restore the skin’s natural moisture through extra hydration. By going through these steps on a regular basis you can expect to see your chicken skin or KP diminish.

  1. Exfoliation 
  2. Hydration 

How to treat KP


Since Keratosis Pilaris is caused by a buildup of keratin, exfoliation is the first step to taking care of this. Regular exfoliation will gently break down the keratin deposits and allow the pores to breathe again.
Our ultra-thin sugar based scrubs are gentle yet effective. This product will exfoliate away dead skin cells and small bumps, without drying out your skin. Each scrub is infused with nourishing oils to help rejuvenate and reveal healthier-looking skin. We recommend using the scrub 2-3 times a week in the shower - depending on how sensitive your skin is.

Bushbalm Skincare exfoliation


Step two is essential in soothing and preventing keratosis pilaris found on the legs, arms, and buttocks. Hydrating your skin will restore the skin's natural moisture after exfoliation and when the skin is consistently moisturized, the risk of the pores becoming clogged with keratin is reduced significantly.
When it comes to KP, you want to make sure that you invest in natural light weight formulas that will nourish the pores as opposed to clogging them. For this step you can choose from a range of treatment oils that contain tea tree or other anti-inflammatory properties. We recommend applying the oil to Keratosis Pilaris on a daily basis. If you are looking for a cream based moisturizer try something that includes Mango Seed Butter in the formula. Mango seed butter is a powerful moisturizing ingredient that has similar benefits to cocoa butter. The light, but silky rich ingredient melts in and visibly softens the skin, with no greasy after feel.

Bushbalm Skincare KP Hydration Oil

 Where is Keratosis Pilaris most common?

The most common parts of the body that may experience keratosis pilaris and rough bumps are the back of the upper arms, buttocks, and front of the thighs.

  • Backs of the upper arms
  • Fronts of the thighs
  • Buttocks

Keratosis pilaris on the back of your arms

KP is most commonly found on the back of arms. It’s important to not intensely exfoliate the back of your arms as that could make the irritation and redness worse. You should opt for a soft, gentle, natural exfoliant that will help remove all the built up dead skin and keratin buildup. To prevent flare ups on the back of your arms use a hydrating moisturizer daily and apply it to damp skin within the first few minutes of bathing.

Keratosis pilaris on the buttocks

Rough bumps on the buttocks are very common, and while there is no real cure there are easy ways to soothe these bumps and prevent them from coming back. It’s important to not scratch at the bumps on your buttocks. Use warm water rather than hot while in the shower. Ensure you are cleansing the area regularly with a natural oil based cleanser. Exfoliate with a gentle natural scrub 2-3 times a week, and keep your buttocks moisturized with a hydrating cream.

Keratosis pilaris on legs and thighs

The best way to keep skin on your legs and thighs KP free is to exfoliate and moisturize. To prevent these little bumps from flaring up, ensure you are not over-exfoliating. It’s best practise to exfoliate 2-3 times a week with a natural sugar based scrub. You’ll also want to make sure you are applying a hydrating cream daily to your legs and thighs.

How To Prevent Keratosis Pilaris (Chicken Skin)

The best way to prevent those little white bumps, and keratosis pilaris from flaring up on your skin is to exfoliate and moisturize. For those looking for additional ways to prevent keratosis pilaris consider the following.

Laser hair treatment

Many have seen some success with preventing and soothing out keratosis pilaris through laser hair removal treatment. The laser targets melanin in the hair follicle by creating heat that damages the follicle and prevents hair growth. KP can cause a lot of ingrown hairs, making the white bumps look even worse. The idea here is that by eliminating hair growth, you would also smooth skin out by eliminating irritations that happen from removing body hair.

Stay clear from hot baths and showers

Hot showers and baths can suck moisture from the skin and ultimately cause dry skin which can trigger keratosis pilaris. Try to keep the water temperature warm and always follow up with a hydrating moisturizer. Skin experts will tell you to moisturize within two minutes of getting out of a bath or shower, as the skin is most absorbent.

Book an appointment with a dermatologist

If you’ve tried everything and your keratosis pilaris is still bothering you, it is probably time to check in with a dermatologist. At times it is difficult to get an appointment, so it’s recommended to get ahead of this or use a telehealth company to speed up the process.

Keratosis Pilaris and Treating the Itch

It’s not uncommon for KP to have an itchy sensation. It’s highly recommended to reduce the urge to itch with other remedies, such as exfoliation or lotions.

Recommended Treatments for Keratosis Pilaris

To prevent and treat KP there are some common types of products in the exfoliation and moisture category. Below we will describe the characteristics of each and how they can help treat the skin and hair. Using these products will help reduce the appearance of Keratosis Pilaris and prevent the itchy sensation.

Exfoliation Sugar Based Scrubs

If you are looking for natural based products to help soften the appearance of KP sugar based scrubs come highly recommended. They are typically formulated with natural oils to give added moisture, which helps on both key elements of treating KP (exfoliating & moisturizing).
Bushbalm Skincare body exfoliator

Exfoliation Body Rocks

A relatively new product to the exfoliation category are pumice stones. They’ve been common in the foot care industry, but neglected for the full body. As new shapes have emerged pumice stones are now highly effective on softening the appearance of KP, as it helps exfoliate the skin in more rough areas.

For safety, ensure you use your pumice stone gently on the skin as being too rough can cause additional irritation.

Bushbalm Body Rock

Nourishing Body Cleansers

If you want to try and tackle your keratosis pilaris in the shower, opt for a nourishing body cleanser with clean ingredients. Harsh cleansers tend to strip the skin of its natural oils that keep it supple and hydrated. When these oils are stripped away, the skin tightens and can become very uncomfortable, dry and itchy. Ingredients that tend to have this adverse effect include: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS, Propylene Glycol, Cocamidopropyl Betain, and Alcohol. Gentle shower cleansers with natural ingredients can go a long way for healing keratosis pilaris anywhere on the body.

When choosing a shower cleanser, look for ingredients such as:

  1. Aloe Vera - a fantastic source of antioxidants and vitamins that help protect the skin.
  2. Jojoba Oil - known for its soothing properties and waxy consistency that coats the top layer of the skin in order to retain the moisture and prevent the skin from drying out.
  3. Glycerin - a moisturizing compound that prevents skin irritations such as dry, scaly, itchy skin.

Bushbalm Nourishing Body Wash

Moisturizers & Lotions

Keeping your skin hydrated is key to preventing keratosis pilaris and getting rid of the little white bumps. Look for moisturizers and lotions with ultra hydrating natural ingredients to keep the skin soft and smooth. Coffea arabica seed is a natural and common ingredient included in many moisturizing formulas. The caffeine within these types of moisturizers can help firm, tighten, and leave your skin feeling plumped. Another natural key ingredient to look for is Brazilian nut seed oil. Brazilian nut seed oil moisturizes the skin, has a ton of rejuvenating properties and improves skin elasticity to prevent premature aging.

Body & Treatment Oils

It’s important to keep your hair and skin hydrated while combating keratosis pilaris. Add a body oil formulated with a hydrating blend of essential and seed oils to your daily skincare routine. Nourishing body oils that contain Jojoba Seed Oil are a good option because they will hydrate and soften the hairs and skin without clogging pores and help balance the natural oil production.

Nourishing Kp body Oil

Keratosis Pilaris & Dieting 

Healthy Eating & Skincare 

Like any skin concern your eating habits could have an effect. Keratosis Pilaris is one skin concern that isn’t commonly linked to diet, but healthy eating and habits are a key pillar to clearer skin. Additionally, stress levels haven’t been linked to KP, but another common trigger for skin concerns. 

Weight & KP 

Your weight generally won’t have an effect on Keratosis Pilaris. You can try various diets, but it hasn’t been proven that weight has an effect on how likely you are to experience KP.

Skincare Routines for Treating Keratosis Pilaris

Preventing and treating KP starts with a strong routine. There are various routines available for keratosis pilaris, but below we’ve listed a two step and three step option. 

"I suffer from Keratosis Pilaris and I have super dry sensitive skin especially on my body. I always had tiny bumps on my upper arms that were just very annoying and my doctor told me to use and good gentle exfoliant for the body and a good moisturizer. I decided to try the Nude exfoliating scrub. It changed my shaving process forever. My Keratosis Pilaris is actually so much better ever since I introduced this in my routine." 

2 Step Routine for Keratosis Pilaris

If you are looking for an easy and effective routine a standard 2 step option might be exactly what you need. In this routine you’ll focus on two key elements: exfoliation & hydration. 

Step 1: Exfoliation 

To start you’ll want to get a sugar based scrub to buff your skin. The natural oils in a sugar based scrub will soften the skin and help moisturize the areas you’ve exfoliated. It is recommended to not over exfoliate and use this type of product 2-3 times per week.

Step 2: Hydration 

To start you’ll use a body oil or treatment oil that is high in anti-inflammatory properties. This is something you’ll want to apply on a daily basis, typically within 2 minutes of showering or bathing. Dermatologists note that the skin is most receptive to take in moisture at this time.  

KP 2 step routine

3 Step Routine for Keratosis Pilaris

If you are looking for an easy and effective routine a standard 2 step option might be exactly what you need. In this routine you’ll focus on two key elements: exfoliation & hydration. 

Step 1: Detoxify 

Utilize a body brush or pumice stone to exfoliate and detoxify the skin. Typically a sisal dry brush will be used, as it combines a unique method to increase blood circulation, while also exfoliating.

Step 2: Exfoliation 

Again, you’ll get a sugar based scrub to buff your skin. The natural oils in a sugar based scrub will soften the skin and help moisturize the areas you’ve exfoliated. It is recommended to not over exfoliate and use this type of product 2-3 times per week.

Step 3: Hydration 

Again, you’ll want to grab your body or treatment oil. Using this daily and within 2 minutes of showering will be the best approach to treat your skin from KP. 

Bushbalm Skincare 3 step KP routine