Keratosis Pilaris Diet: Why It Doesn't Work, Plus Proven Remedies

Despite what you might read on the internet, your diet does not cause or cure keratosis pilaris. We'll explain what the research says about the connection between diet and keratosis pilaris, and point you towards proven methods that can help you manage your symptoms.

Keratosis pilaris is a harmless condition that produces tiny bumps on the skin. The bumps most often appear on the upper arms and thighs.

People who live with keratosis often refer to it as chicken skin because the reddish bumps feel rough to the touch and look like goosebumps or the skin of a plucked chicken.

While not a dangerous condition, keratosis pilaris can be annoying, which often motivates people to search for a cure.

The good news? For some people, it may improve in the summer, only to return to its normal state in the winter.

The not-so-good news? Doctors say there's no cure for it. That includes 'miracle cure' diets you may have read about on the internet.

Keep reading to learn why diets can neither cure nor cause keratosis pilaris, as well as tried-and-true methods you can use to manage your symptoms.

Can you heal keratosis pilaris by altering your diet?

Keratosis pilaris happens from a buildup of keratin in the pores. A quick search on the internet reveals blogs of people who have cleared up their keratosis pilaris by altering their diet. Some eliminate gluten from their diet. Others avoid spices, oils, and milk.

While the anecdotal evidence is compelling, there's no scientific or medical evidence to support this theory.

The research proving a link between food allergies and intolerances to keratosis pilaris is scarce. Some people believe that eliminating gluten from their diet caused their keratosis pilaris to improve. However, there's no evidence that everyone would benefit from avoiding foods containing gluten.

That said, if you think you or your child may have an intolerance or insensitivity to gluten, milk, or other food, you should see a doctor. It's important to properly diagnose and treat any food intolerances or allergies.

Picture 1 of Keratosis Pilaris Diet: Why It Doesn't Work, Plus Proven Remedies

Picture 1 of Keratosis Pilaris Diet: Why It Doesn't Work, Plus Proven Remedies

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Keratosis pilaris develops when keratin clogs the hair follicles.
Can your diet cause keratosis pilaris?

Despite what you might see on the internet, your diet does not cause keratosis pilaris. While doctors point to several reasons why someone might develop this skin condition, your diet is typically not one of them.

Some of the more common triggers for developing keratosis pilaris include:

  • your family's genes
  • age at the onset — it's more common in children and teenagers
  • living with asthma, obesity, or skin conditions such as eczema or ichthyosis vulgaris

Your diet does not cause keratosis pilaris. But eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates can support overall health, which includes good skin health.

Best ways to relieve symptoms

Since keratosis pilaris is harmless, many people ignore it and wait for the patches to fade. However, if you're experiencing dry, itchy skin, or you're bothered by the appearance of your arms and legs, there are a few things you can do to help manage your symptoms.

Home remedies

  • Keratosis pilaris often gets worse when your skin is dry, so the first step in managing symptoms is to moisturize your skin. Be sure to apply plenty of moisturizer immediately following a bath or shower. Look for thicker products that contain petroleum jelly or glycerin.
  • Hot water and exposure to water for long periods can irritate keratosis pilaris. With that in mind, consider taking lukewarm showers or baths and limiting the amount of time you spend bathing.
  • If you commonly wear tight-fitting clothes, especially clothes that fit snug around your arms or thighs, consider opting for looser fitting tops and pants. The friction from tight clothes may increase the symptoms of keratosis pilaris.
  • Gently exfoliating your skin can help improve the appearance and feel of the skin, especially on the areas where keratosis pilaris is most often found. The key is to have a gentle touch. Consider using a loofah or washcloth and using minimal pressure until you see how your skin responds.
  • If you live in dry conditions, you may want to consider using a humidifier to help add moisture to your home, and consequently, your skin.

Prescription medications

Your doctor may also suggests a topical prescription medication. This can help remove dead skin cells and reduce itch and dry skin. Some of the more common ingredients in these medications include:

  • salicylic acid
  • glycolic acid
  • urea
  • lactic acid
  • topical retinoid

Laser treatment or microdermabrasion

Finally, if over-the-counter remedies or prescription medications aren't working, your doctor may suggest a laser or light treatment. While this may be effective in reducing the appearance of keratosis pilaris, it's not a cure.

The takeaway

Keratosis pilaris is a common but harmless skin condition. Treatment may improve the appearance of the skin, but there's no cure for this condition.

If you're bothered by the patches of rough skin or you have concerns, see your doctor for treatment recommendations.

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