Keratosis pilaris, while generally harmless, can cause unwanted bumps and redness on your skin, usually on your upper arms, thighs, or your face. But, while any doctor would tell you there is no cure to keratosis pilaris, there are a few creams and lotions that can treat the symptoms. The best lotions for keratosis pilaris will have mild exfoliating ingredients and pack plenty of moisturizing power to offset any of the associated dryness. But, what does a dermatologist recommend in a lotion for your keratosis pilaris?
According to Dr. Faiyaaz Kalimullah and Dr. Kevin Cavanaugh, board-certified dermatologists at the Center for Dermatology and Aesthetic Medicine in Chicago, KP is a common genetic condition that's most often seen in children, but can last into adulthood. While the exact cause of KP remains unknown, they explain that "those with KP produce too much keratin" which causes plugs to form in the hair follicles, leading to those familiar bumps.
Dr. Kalimullah and Dr. Cavanaugh tell Bustle that, genetics aside, it’s crucial that your skin care habits are in check, as an improper or neglected routine can exacerbate the symptoms of KP. Gentle cleansing, a mild acid exfoliator like salicylic or glycolic acid, and a daily dose of moisture are all essential to managing KP.
I've perused the options and can say that these, below, are the best lotions for keratosis pilaris, with all of the dermatologist-recommended ingredients to dissolve keratin plugs and hydrate your dry skin.
1. A Cult-Favorite Lotion For KP: CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin
With a combination of both AHA and BHA exfoliators, this CeraVe salicylic acid lotion is a great pick for anyone with keratosis pilaris. For $32, you'll get a whopping 19-ounce bottle of this cult-favorite lotion, which is also packed with ceramides to boost moisture in your skin. Even better, this formula is hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, so there's little chance of it causing any irritation on your skin. In fact, according to Dr. Kalimullah and Cavanaugh, "you should also try to avoid products with fragrances or dyes, as these can often irritate dry, sensitive skin." If this doesn't convince you, read some of the nearly 1,200 Amazon reviews which praise this lotion as a near-cure for keratosis pilaris.
What fans say: "This lotion was life changing. I was struggling with keratosis pilaris (chicken skin) that made me very self conscious of the look and feel of my skin. The condition seemed to never go away. But after just three days of using this lotion three times a day, my skin had improved greatly & in less than two weeks my skin became almost completely normal again! I’ve been applying it to my face as well and it has been clearing up my acne!"
2. A More Affordable Lotion Derms Love: AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion
This daily moisturizer has a powerful exfoliating formula featuring 12% lactic acid, to help minimize any texture on your skin. Coupled with mineral oil and glycerin, this lotion will leave your skin feeling hydrated and noticeably smoother. This 8-ounce bottle is just $13, making it a bit less expensive per-ounce than others on this list, and less expensive on the whole as well. Plenty of Amazon reviewers say this was a game-changer for their KP.
What fans say: "I have tried tons of products to treat keratosis pilaris (red bumps on skin) and this is the first thing that actually works! I use it every day, I highly suggest it to anyone struggling with KP."
3. A Hydrating Lotion Made With Urea: Excipial Urea Hydrating Healing Lotion
I asked Drs. Kalimullah and Cavanaugh for one of their top ingredients for soothing KP, and they chimed in with urea, as it has the ability to "gradually smooth out the skin" without causing irritation. This moisturizing lotion is formulated with 10% urea to nourish and hydrate dry, itchy skin while gently exfoliating at the same time. While it's undoubtedly very pricey — urea lotions can be hard to find — many Amazon reviewers say that this has worked to eliminate some of the redness and bumps on their skin when nothing else did.
What fans say: "This was recommended by our dermatologist and super hard to find. Glad we found it here for a great price. Daughter has Keratosis pilaris and this has helped more than anything else."
4. A Body Cream Also Great For Eczema: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
If nearly 2,000 Amazon reviewers say something is worth your while, there's probably something there. This fan-favorite body cream is packed with super hydrating emollients like Shea butter, as well as skin protectants like colloidal oatmeal to relieve irritation caused by keratosis pilaris and eczema. Further, its formula is packed with antioxidants and soothing ingredients like white tea and allantoin to help reduce redness. Drs. Kalimullah and Cavanaugh tell Bustle, “Because KP is so closely tied to dry skin, it's important to maintain proper skin hydration."
What fans say: "This cream is great for my eczema/keratosis pilaris. After the first use I saw great results! You do have to keep applying it but it's well worth it and you don't need much. Not greasy or smelly. Love it!"
5. A High-Strength Exfoliating Lotion: Glytone Exfoliating Body Lotion
If you've tried a few things and you feel like it's not strong enough or you're becoming immune to the results, give this exfoliating lotion made with 17.5% glycolic acid a whirl. Samantha Conrad, MD, dermatologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago suggests using a product with glycolic one-to-two times a day. Reviewers said that despite the high level of acid, they didn't experience any irritation.
What fans say: "I've been using this for years on my keratosis pilaris and it is the only thing that works. I tried many dermatological grade creams before this. But once I saw results with this, I stuck with it. Be careful though, because your skin will sunburn easily if you go outside in the summer after using it. I don't have problems with that when I'm walking around town on a day to day basis, but if you go to the beach without putting on 30 SPF, you will get burned (worse than usual)."
6. An AHA/BHA Lotion Amazon Reviewers Love: Touch Keratosis Pilaris Treatment
This cruelty-free body lotion works wonders on KP bumps and redness. With a powerful one-two punch of glycolic and salicylic acids, this lotion gently exfoliates away any texture on your skin with repeated use. It's also packed with antioxidants like vitamin E and emollients like soja oil that leave your skin smoother and softer to the touch. Nearly 500 Amazon reviewers sing its praises when it comes to minimizing the symptoms of keratosis pilaris.
What fans say: "I've used a lot of products to deal with my Keratosis Pilaris. Touch is my favorite. I've been using this along with with the matching Touch KP Exfoliating Wash for about a month, and I'm really pleased. The KP isn't totally gone, but it's so much better, and I feel confident that it will continue to improve. The skin that isn't affected by KP is super soft, which is a really nice benefit. Also, Touch is cruelty-free, which is a non-negotiable for me."