The 7 Best Treatments For Keratosis Pilaris


While not medically concerning, keratosis pilaris can still be an annoying skin condition to deal with. Some people develop the tiny red bumps on their arms, cheeks, or butts; me? I’ve got it on the back of my calves. It doesn’t hurt or itch, but when you’re as committed to head-to-toe skin care as I am, it can be frustrating to see your legs covered in pimple-like bumps. And though there isn’t technically a cure, the best treatments for keratosis pilaris can help lessen its appearance.

Keeping your skin moisturized is one of the best ways to prevent KP, since dry skin types are typically more susceptible. Especially in the winter, be sure to use a rich moisturizer on the areas it tends to appear. But you can also go a step further by using resurfacing and exfoliating treatments that help shed dead skin and promote healthy cell turnover. Products with salicylic, lactic, and/or glycolic acids are a good place to start.

If you’re wondering which acid is right for your skin type, it’s mainly a matter of trial and error, though typically, glycolic acid is on the harsher side, while lactic acid is gentler, thus more suitable for sensitive skin. Salicylic is my acid of choice, and it’s usually a good option for most. When it comes to skin care products, your own personal preferences in terms of formula, texture, and method of application are what’s really important. If you don’t enjoy slathering your body in lotion, go with an in-shower wash. If you hate the feeling of thick and heavy creams, try a lighter-weight lotion instead.

After a lot of trial and error, I’ve finally narrowed down a handful of products that successfully helped kick my KP to the curb. It still comes back from time to time, but at least now I know how to treat it. Scroll on to find out my top over-the-counter treatments for keratosis pilaris.


The Overall Best Body Lotion For KP

CeraVe's SA Lotion For Rough & Bumpy Skin is my top overall pick because, for less than $20, it's one of the most effective KP treatments on the market. It's a multi-acid lotion that contains both salicylic and lactic acid for exfoliating, but there's also a dose of hyaluronic acid to keep skin moisturized. It also contains three essential ceramides to help maintain a healthy protective barrier, which is essential to keeping skin healthy and hydrated. The lightweight formula is fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic, so it's totally suitable for sensitive skin. I keep the convenient pump bottle on my nightstand and use it every time I come out of the shower; even though my KP is primarily on my lower legs, I also slather it on my chest and back to help prevent body acne. So far, it hasn't let me down!

Hot tip: if you have extra-dry skin and prefer something richer, CeraVe makes a near-identical formula with a thicker consistency, which you can buy here.


Best Lactic Acid Lotion For KP

Another great affordable lotion for treating KP is AmLactin's Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion. Unlike the CeraVe SA Lotion, this one relies solely on lactic acid to exfoliate, and the consistency is a bit runnier. Another difference is that this formula doesn't contain any hyaluronic acid; instead, it depends on emollients and humectants to keep skin moisturized. It's fragrance-free, but it does have a bit of a stinky smell — but hey, isn't that the case for any beauty product that actually works?


Best Glycolic Acid Lotion For KP

Whether you're a prestige beauty junkie, prefer glycolic acid, or are simply obsessed with Paula's Choice (same), there are a lot of reasons you might want to try this high-end formula instead. Yes, it's almost double the price of the first two options — but people are obsessed with this stuff, and the reviews speak for themselves. Here's the lowdown: The formula, which is lightweight yet creamy, is packed with a hefty 10 percent glycolic acid, a powerful AHA. It also contains some super effective botanical ingredients, like shea butter and willow bark extract, as well as a dose of vitamin C, which brightens skin and treats hyperpigmentation. Whether you have KP, body acne, sun spots, or severe dryness, this lotion is sure to leave your skin radiant, clear, and baby-soft.


Best Body Wash For KP

I rarely include two products by the same brand in any type of roundup, but CeraVe's SA line is just that good. Again, this no-frills body wash — which costs less than $10 — happens to be one of the most effective KP treatments out there. The formula is packed with salicylic acid (for exfoliating), hyaluronic acid (for moisturizing), ceramides (for a healthy protective barrier), and niacinamide, which is a miracle ingredient that pretty much does everything, but, simply put, improves the overall health and appearance of your skin. Like the CeraVe SA Lotion, this cleanser is gentle, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic. You can also use it on your face! It comes in an 8-ounce bottle with a convenient pump top, which is always a bonus for me when it comes to shower products.


Another Great Body Wash That Amazon Reviewers Swear By

Full disclosure: this is the only product on this list I haven't actually tried. But I felt it was my duty to include it, as it's specifically formulated for treating KP and has a near-perfect Amazon rating with dozens of rave reviews. This foaming gel wash contains glycolic acid — a whopping 15 percent, at that — and two percent salicylic acid. If gel body washes usually dry your skin out, this one shouldn't, since it contains humectants (which attract moisture), hyaluronic acid, and nourishing ingredients like aloe vera. Reviewers say it's most effective when left on your body for a bit, so don't wash it off immediately; others say to apply it dry on affected areas and let it sit for a few minutes before washing off.


Best Body Scrub For KP

Though CeraVe's SA line is my favorite drugstore treatment for KP, DermaDoctor's KP Duty line is my prestige go-to. I own the lotion and the pads, too, but the scrub is my absolute favorite. This heavy-duty formula offers both physical and chemical exfoliation; it contains glycolic and lactic acid to encourage cell turnover, while the grainy texture sloughs away dead skin. It works a little differently than traditional scrubs, though, so take note: you apply this stuff dry, then gently massage it into your skin before rinsing off. I've been using this for the past few weeks to treat my most recent KP flare-up, and it works like a charm: I'm totally bump-free.


Best Body Pads For KP

Not everyone likes the feeling of body lotion, and some people don't have time for a full in-shower exfoliation session, which is where these handy peels come in. Use them anywhere, anytime: they exfoliate, brighten, and retexturize skin using a 10 percent concentration of glycolic acid. In addition to helping quell KP flare-ups, they also treat hyperpigmentation, body acne, and scarring. I'm really surprised by the (albeit, very few) Amazon reviews for these pads, because I successfully treated last winter's KP with them (in conjunction with the retexture lotion) — I just couldn't keep up with the price tag. That said, if you can afford it, I definitely recommend picking up a jar. They're especially convenient to have on hand for travel!

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