Keratosis Pilaris: Can You Smoothen Rough Skin?

    Keratosis Pilaris: Can You Smoothen Rough Skin?

    Do you have dry, rough tiny bumps on your skin? They don’t itch and are not painful, but you worry about them nevertheless. It’s possible that you have keratosis pilaris. Here’s what you need to know about its causes, remedies, and treatment.

    What Is Keratosis Pilaris?

    Keratosis pilaris appears as rough, dry patches or bumps on the skin, usually on the cheeks, arms, thighs, and buttocks. They typically do not hurt or itch, but some people get bothered by them. Colors vary: they can be brown, reddish, white, or skin-colored.

    According to experts, keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition. And sometimes, dermatologists consider it a “variant of normal skin” or another skin type.

    What Causes Keratosis Pilaris?

    This common skin condition happens due to the buildup of keratin, a type of protein that protects the skin from infection and harmful substances. Keratin buildup plugs the opening of the hair follicles, causing dry, rough bumps.

    The reason behind the buildup is still unknown, but they say genetics can play a significant role.

    They likewise identified those who are more likely to develop keratosis pilaris: children and teens. With kids and teens, KP may fade away over time.

    If you have any of the following conditions, your risk also increases:

    • Dry skin
    • Asthma
    • Eczema
    • Hay fever
    • Excess body weight
    • Ichthyosis vulgaris (a condition that triggers extremely dry skin)
    • Melanoma

    Are There Remedies and Treatment for Keratosis Pilaris?

    Yes there are. However, please note that this skin condition has no cure; there are also no preventive measures. The best you can do is reduce the size of the bumps and make sure they are not dry.

    The following remedies and treatments would help:

    1. Ask your dermatologist for a moisturizer

    Experts say dry skin makes keratosis pilaris worse. Hence, it’s a great idea to moisturize regularly. Instead of “experimenting” with the best moisturizing product, it’s best to talk to your doctor about the most effective product for your skin type.

    2. Be gentle and use mild products

    Another thing that would help is to be gentle on the affected area. Avoid scrubbing them with a rough cloth. Instead, use a mild soap and lather it on the skin using your fingertips.

    How About Exfoliation?

    Experts say it’s still advisable to exfoliate to remove the dead skin cells. However, do not over-exfoliate, and when using materials, such as a loofah, be gentle still.

    3. Invest in other measures to prevent dry skin

    Things like shortening your shower time to 15 minutes or less, using a humidifier, and bathing with lukewarm water instead of hot, seem to help prevent skin drying.

    4. Use medicated products

    Sometimes, dermatologists recommend prescription-strength moisturizers if the over-the-counter ones do not work well.

    If you want to remove dead skin cells, they might suggest retin-A products. They might also give you products containing urea, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), lactic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid. These products are referred to as keratolytic. They help remove dead skin cells and reduce the appearance of KP.


    You often apply keratolytics after exfoliating the skin. Be sure to apply exactly as directed. Too much or too frequent application may irritate the skin. Sometimes even using them properly can trigger irritation. If this happens, discontinue use.

    Setting Your Expectations

    As mentioned earlier, keratosis pilaris has no cure. Hence, while these treatments and remedies can help improve the appearance of the skin, they will not eliminate the bumps.

    It’s also worth noting that in some instances, keratosis pilaris do not respond to home remedies.

    Key Takeaways

    Keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition that manifests as tiny, dry bumps. They are generally harmless: they don’t cause pain or itchiness. While there’s no cure and prevention, some home remedies and treatments help improve the condition.

    Learn more about Skincare and Cleansing here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Dexter Macalintal, MD

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Aug 16, 2022