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How to treat keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a skin condition characterised by the emergence of small, hard bumps, similar to goosebumps. Although harmless, it can appear unsightly, hence the desire some people have to find an appropriate treatment. How can keratosis pilaris be eliminated? Discover some elements of the answer in this article.

Summary
Published March 8, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 8 min read

How to recognise keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a condition that can affect various parts of the body, although it is generally concentrated on the outer surface of the arms, thighs and calves. Due to the presence of small flesh-coloured bumps, it resembles goosebumps. In case of inflammation following scratching, the bumps can turn red. Besides the bumps, the skin is relatively thick and rough, due to the accumulation of keratin. Indeed, keratosis pilaris results from a overproduction of keratin by the keratinocytes, which then accumulates on the surface of the epidermis.

It is important to note that the primary cause of keratosis pilaris is a genetic predisposition. The symptoms can then be exacerbated by various external and environmental factors, such as allergens, dry air, or a poor shaving technique. Furthermore, it has been shown that dry skin and those prone to eczema are more affected by this condition, although it is not yet known whether this is a correlation or causality.

What can be done to eliminate keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a benign skin condition. For aesthetic reasons, you may certainly seek to eliminate it, but be aware that untreated keratosis pilaris does not pose a health risk.

Keratosis pilaris typically emerges during adolescence and tends to disappear naturally in adulthood. However, this is not always the case and it is estimated that approximately 40% of adults worldwide are affected by this skin condition. There are several methods to alleviate the signs of keratosis pilaris, but it's important to note that most of them are only partially effective.

Deeply hydrate and nourish the skin.

Proper skin hydration contributes to protecting the skin from irritations and external aggressions. The emollients such as urea, vegetable oils or squalane help to soften the skin and reduce the roughness characteristic of keratosis pilaris. The galenic form of the product also matters. Generally, the thicker and "oilier" the moisturising treatment is, the more effective it will be. Thus, instead of using a moisturising lotion, it would be better to opt for a balm or a cream.

Product recommendations?

  • To maintain skin hydration, we recommend opting for a gentle and moisturising cleansing care, such as our palmarosa moisturising cleansing care. Thanks to its combination of vegetable oils and butters and its high superfat content, this solid soap helps you maintain the hydration of the skin layer and is ideal for skins seeking softness.

  • Adapting to all skin types, our body moisturising cream has been designed solely from ingredients essential to its function. Its light and non-greasy texture allows for skin hydration without a sticky effect.

  • For an even richer texture, you can turn to our lipid-replenishing balm. Suitable for the whole family from birth, this treatment has been designed for dry to very dry skin and skin prone to atopic conditions. It combines the lipid-replenishing action of ceramides and shea butter with a rebalancing postbiotic to provide a hydration boost and soothe the skin.

Preventing skin dryness.

In addition to applying moisturising and nourishing treatments, you can place a humidifier in your home to prevent skin dryness. Its use will help to increase the humidity levels in the air, which proves to be useful in preventing and relieving dry skin. It's worth noting that a humidity level between 40 and 60% is ideal for rehydrating the skin's upper layer. Lastly, opt for quick showers, as prolonged contact with water tends to dry out the epidermis.

Exfoliate the skin once to twice a week.

In addition to hydration, regular exfoliation helps toreduce skin roughness and signs of keratosis pilaris. For this, we recommend our nourishing body scrub. This melting exfoliating gel contains micro grains of apricot kernels and has a triple action on the skin: nourishing, softening, and soothing. Enriched with sweet almond oil, it offers gentle exfoliation and removes accumulated dead cells on the skin surface without causing irritation.

Avoid shaving or waxing the skin.

The preferred method of hair removal for the French, shaving can cause skin irritation, accompanied by redness and itching. This slight inflammation can then exacerbate keratosis pilaris and cause the appearance of new bumps. However, electric hair removal and waxing are not necessarily better options. The former, which uses an electric current to destroy hair follicles, can sometimes lead to the formation of ingrown hairs due to the rupture of follicles or incorrect usage technique. Similarly, by pulling out hairs from the root, waxing can disrupt their regrowth and lead to ingrown hairs.

If you have keratosis pilaris and wish to remove your hair, we would recommend one of the following two hair removal methods: the depilatory cream or the laser hair removal. The principle of the depilatory cream is simple and relies on the presence of thioglycolic acid in its composition. This molecule alters the structure of the keratin present in the hair, which weakens them and allows for gentle removal. The laser, on the other hand, utilises the principle of selective photothermolysis. The infrared rays it emits target the melanin concentrated in the hair and transform into heat to destroy the entire follicle. It should be noted that this technique is only possible for individuals with dark hair.

Topical treatments to target keratosis pilaris?

Several studies have explored potential topical treatments to combat keratosis pilaris. Among the ingredients investigated for unclogging follicular plugsare retinoids such as tretinoin and adapalene, azelaic acid, and calcipotriol, a derivative of vitamin D. It has been shown that these active ingredients can somewhat improve the appearance of keratosis pilaris, but they do not allow for complete remission.

Undergoing laser sessions.

The latest solution for eliminating keratosis pilaris involves undergoing laser sessions. These typically yield satisfactory results after a few sessions, however, the results are rarely permanent. Indeed, when the sessions are discontinued, a relapse is usually observed. Thus, the laser only offers a temporary solution, unless the sessions are continued indefinitely. There are several types of lasers, such as the Nd:YAG laser, the CO2 laser, or the pulsed light laser, all of which have comparable effectiveness on keratosis pilaris. Finally, it is important to note that laser sessions are not suitable for everyone and are not recommended for pregnant women or for individuals taking a photosensitising medication.

Sources

  • KHOPKAR U. S. & THOMAS M. Keratosis Pilaris Revisited: Is It More Than Just a Follicular Keratosis? International Journal of Trichology (2012).

  • WANG J. F. & ORLOW S. J. Keratosis Pilaris and its Subtypes: Associations, New Molecular and Pharmacologic Causes, and Treatment Alternatives. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology (2018).

  • FELDMAN S. R. & al. Treatment of keratosis pilaris and its variants: a systematic review. Journal of Dermatological Treatment (2022).

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