Keratosis Pilaris

When Ryan was about four months old, we noticed his skin started having what I referred to as the dreaded “goose bump skin.” I was mortified.  I had these bumps, which were very noticeable on my arms and legs while growing up.  I still have them somewhat on my legs.  I remember my mom taking me to several doctors in my teens, because I was so self-conscious about them.  No doctor ever gave us a diagnosis on what the condition was.  I resigned myself to live with these bumps on my skin. 

I was very happy in my early twenties, when they started to disappear on my arms. They also started to fade on my legs.  

Fast forward ten plus years, gazing at my firstborn’s sweet, perfect, smooth skin, only to realize he is developing the same condition I had.  What are these bumps, and would my son have to go through his life with them too?

I immediately took Ryan to a dermatologist, who told me right off it is a “harmless” skin condition called, Keratosis Pilaris, or KP. Harmless in it often looks worse than it is, but I knew first hand, how self conscious it can make you about parts of the body that KP appears on.  She told me there isn’t anything you can do, but a person usually will outgrow KP as they get older.  She also said it is genetic (my dad and sister had KP too), and about 50% of the population has some form of KP, somewhere on their body.

She gave me a prescription cream for a steroid and told me I could use it in case of flare-ups, or if the KP got really bad.  What really was troubling to me was unlike myself, Ryan had KP on his face, especially on his cheeks.  His cheeks were rough, and people were starting to comment on it. 

I used the steroid cream a few times, when Ryan’s face had really bad flare-ups. Dry weather can aggravate KP.  We live in a very dry climate, and interestingly I remembered as a child, when we visited more humid places, my KP went away entirely.  At 7 and 18 months, we visited my sister who lives in a very humid area, and within 2 days of us being there, Ryan’s KP disappeared.  It reappeared however, after we returned home.

I didn’t like using a steroid cream on my baby, so off to the Internet I went, in hopes of discovering something, anything, that would at least reduce the KP on Ryan’s face.  There is no “miracle” cure- at least not one that I have found.

What I have discovered is there are several things that will help reduce the chances of flare-ups, resulting in less noticeable bumps.  I did learn that KP can be so different for everyone- what works with one person, will only aggravate the flare-ups in others.  Our pediatrician gave us some good tips as well, and here is what I have discovered helps Ryan:

  • Keeping our environment as humid as possible. 

Our pediatrician actually wrote us a prescription for a whole house humidifier.  Since we are planning on moving soon, we opted not to buy one yet.  However, we keep a humidifier in Ryan’s room at night.  This helps a lot, especially in the winter.  We have an evaporator cooler in the summer, which is almost like a humidifier.  Ryan’s skin is almost KP free in the summer. 

  • Adding pure, organic, flax seed oil to his milk every day. 

I add less than a teaspoon, but I have noticed it helps a great deal.  Flax seed oil is rich in the essential fatty acids, especially Omega-6, which is the Gamma Linoleic Acid.   Our doctor told us flax seed oil has the highest concentration of Omega-6′s, more than what you would find in a capsule. 

Some research suggests that a lack GLA contributes to eczema, and when eczema patients increased their GLA intake, their eczema went away.   However, eczema, and KP are not related, but I liked the theory, since GLA is very soothing to the skin, and can promote healing.  Since most people can’t utilize GLA properly (due to environmental factors), adding GLA’s into Ryan’s diet, seemed like a natural thing to do. 

I never told Ryan I was adding flax seed oil to his milk.  I would stir it in, and he would drink it.  As he got older, he started to ask me what “that yellow stuff” was.  I told him it was flax seed oil, and it helps keep us healthy.  Ryan reminds me and asks for his flax seed oil now, and once I asked him why he likes it so much.  He said, “It keeps my skin smooth.”  I was amazed.  I have never told him that, but I think he started to notice a difference in his KP when he takes his flax seed oil.  About a year ago, I saw him running his hands down his arms, and talking to himself.  He was saying that his skin was bumpy and he didn’t like it. That about broke my heart, so I am thrilled that he seems to have noticed a difference in his skin.

  • Keeping his skin moisturized

This has been such a journey for me.  I have tried probably every cream, lotion, and balm on the market in hopes of one of them reducing Ryan’s KP.  I have tried everything from the lotions promising to cure KP, to basic Vaseline, to herbs.  I have tried everything from the steroid cream to the purest and most organic moisturizers I could find.  Nothing has been that miracle, but I have noticed that the more natural lotions, seem to lock in the moisture after Ryan’s bath better.  Right now,  Shikai Borage Dry Skin Therapy Lotion is doing a very nice job. It keeps Ryan’s skin moisturized for a full 24 hours, and I haven’t found anything that has worked as well up to this point.

  • Using Natural Skin Products

This has been a real change for me, which I will write more about in the next post.  So many ingredients in products that I had previously been using are so drying to the skin, and weren’t helping Ryan at all.

With these changes we have made, I am very hopeful that Ryan’s KP will continue to lessen as he gets older.  It has gotten better even from when he was two years old. 

I think education is so important on KP as well.  So many people don’t really know what it is, and out of concern they ask you what those bumps are on your child, or if he has a rash.  I have even had people tell me after I have explained what it is, say that they used to have bumps on their skin when they were young, and they are happy to have finally found out what those bumps were too. 

Maybe one day science will finally have a cure for all the sufferers of KP.  Until then, I plan to keep trying to eliminate the flare-ups, and at least “cure” it the best I can for Ryan.

Comments

  1. I have had great success by using vitamin A in this condition. Some people are just deficient in vitamin A. For most people I would put them on omega 3′s fish or flax as well as a vitamin A supplement, maybe try some food allergy eliminations as most of the time things show up on our skin that actually originate in the gut. Here is the protocol I typically follow if you are interested…

    http://kitchentablemedicine.com/allergy-elimination-diet/

  2. Jordan says:

    I’m really sorry to hear about Ryan’s problem as I’ve suffered from KP since elementary school. I’m trying to collect all the information I can and put them in one central, convenient location for others “blessed” with KP.

    Good luck with Ryan’s skin.

  3. Although I have not had this condition myself, I have worked on many clients who have. Some had been following my treatment regimen in conjunction with a topical from a dermatologist, but I’ve found that some of my clients did fine with some simpler home remedies.
    I’ve posted this information you can check out!
    http://myfacialfacts.com/index.php/2008/07/24/whats-the-best-treatment-for-keratosis-pilaris/

    To Your Skin’s Health,
    The Derma Divas.

  4. Annie Harmon says:

    I found your blog looking for KP information. My 4 year-old daughter has KP, and I have found that all natural soaps and cleansers have helped a great deal. I am using soap from Chagrin Valley Soap (www.chagrinvalleysoapandcraft.com). I emailed them for suggestions, and they suggested goat milk soaps as well as exfoliators like their cornmeal and oatmeal soaps. I have used their products on Gracie for about a month now, and have found significant (sp) improvement in her skin. (Plus they also smell yummy)

    Good luck!!!!

  5. Tara says:

    Hi Mama’s Blog! I have had severe KP for 6 years on my arms and a little on my thighs neck, and buttocks (I’m 26; I have always had “gooseflesh”, but it didn’t become red and severe until 6 years ago). I have tried EVERYTHING, just like you have with Ryan, and last night I tried doing something very natural and it seems to have really helped! I took a buttermilk bath. I filled the tub up and pourd 8 cups (2 pints, $1.19 each at Trader Joe’s or pretty much any food store) of organic buttermilk into the warm water (make sure only warm and not HOT; hot causes dryness of the skin)and soaked for 20 minutes. I actually pored some of the undiluted buttermilk directly onto my arms and gently scubbed it in with a loofah for a few minutes. My skin was SO soft when I got out of the tub. I followed my normal skin regimen and applied avocado oil to my legs (has done wonders for the KP on my thighs) and Eucerin Dry Skin Therapy Cream to my arms (the stuff in the jar, NOT the lotion bottle; the consistency is very strange and hard to rub into the skin, but keeps my KP moisturized and soft almost all day). Today the appearance and redness on my arms is GREATLY diminished. I am going to continue trying the buttermilk bath method at least 4 times a week and see what happens! It only seems logical that the natural lactid acid in buttermilk would greatly moisturize the skin and reduce symptoms of KP. I’m crossing my fingers! Maybe you could try this with Ryan and see if it helps. Maybe he could put warmed buttermilk directly onto his face (would work best in a hot/humid environment, perhaps while bathing or showering, so his facial pores are open)and rub very gently with a wash cloth or a face loofah. Good luck!

  6. Gloria says:

    My 11 yr old son Nehemiah has always had this condition and always was miss diagnose for eczema and in one on his regular check ups his pediatrician recommended him to a dermatologist because he thought it was kp and it turn out it was today after months of creams and treatments he had to have a biopsy on his shoulder =0( because it has flared up so bad I really hope they can find a cure or something to that effect i feel your pain and what you are going through.I also have it and my side of the family but very mild never knew about it until his was diagnosed i never been treated for it.I just thought i had ugly skin.

  7. Alicia says:

    I have suffered for years with kp. My dermatologist presribed Ketaconazole cream, but it would only clear my face and cleavage for less than 24 hours!! I decided the best thing to do would be to switch to an all natural skincare regimen.

    I have been using Desert Essence’s Thouroughly Clean Face Wash (Trader Joe’s, Fruitful Yield, suprisingly cheapest @ Whole Foods $9/ 32oz!!) on my face AND body for several months now and that helps a lot!! Also I started moisturizing my face and cleavage with jojoba oil (Desert Essence brand from Trader Joe’s ). It seemed to work ok with the ketoconazole, but after running out of jojoba & ketaconazole I decided to try avocado oil ( Now brand from Fruitful Yield $6/ 4oz). Avocado oil has been my saving grace ever since!!!!

    It’s been over a month since I refilled my prescription and I have not gotten more jojobe oil, but I did order a bigger container of Avocado oil from Fruitful Yield!! And a bonus is that even though Fruitful Yield does not carry the bigger size of the avocado oil you can order it online from Amazon.com or you can look in FY’s food section of the store and have them order you a bigger container for a little cheaper!!! Both can be used for cooking as well!!!

  8. Sarah says:

    Hi Mama,
    My 22 month old was diagnosed with KP on her face when she was 9 months old. I’m on a quest to find the right treatment for her and I can’t wait to try your suggestions. How is your little guy doing now? Do you think it’s getting better as he gets older, or is it better because you found the right way to manage it for him? I’m dreading when my little one hits puberty, I’m terrified it will go out of control…although my sister’s KP spread from her arms to her face in highschool and the doctor said it was a little bit of a blessing since she won’t get acne since her pores were already “busy” with KP. Sure enough, aside from the KP, she never had a problem with facial acne. And the KP did go away on her face in her early twenties. Keeping our fingers crossed that are kids can one day be KP free!

  9. A Mama's Blog says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Ryan is now 6.5 and the KP has gotten MUCH better. In the summer it is almost gone. In the winter it flares up at times, but it seems like adding a humidifier at night and applying lotion really helps. I’ve had good success with Vaseline Intensive Rescue. I still add about half a teaspoon of the flax seed oil to his milk when the flare ups are bad. I remember the doctor telling us his was the worst case of KP he had ever seen when he was a baby, so there is hope. So for now it is under control. We’ll see if that changes when he is a teenager.

  10. Chloe says:

    It’s great to see you’re helping your childs Keratosis Pilaris by not only natural means, but by also looking at what may be causing it in the first place.

    I also have had success with vitamin A and essential fatty acids as they are absolutely essential for proper keratinisation of the skin cells and also hydration of the skin.

    Fabulous post.

  11. Samantha says:

    I have had KP for as long as I can remember, but never knew what it was. Many websites say that dry skin accompanies it, but I have very moisturized skin, so I don’t know why I have it. I feel like my arms are gross and hate wearing shorts sleeves or sleeveless shirts. My husband thinks it is gross also, and I feel bad about it. I wish that there were a cure for it, but all I have found is that is naturally comes and goes, sometimes worse and sometimes mild. KP is no fun!

  12. dsd says:

    Great to see such a text! Being a mom of two boys myself, of which one has inherited KP from my husband, I find it precious. Thanks, Mama!

    I’d also like to add a piece of our own experience. Some years ago, after having a shower, my husband used my self-tanning lotion by mistake, instead of a regular body-lotion. Soon he discovered that his bumps became much smoother, and those inflamed almost disappeared. After that he used it regularly (it was funny with his extra-white skin :) ) and kept his KP pretty under control, with no rubbing. It was a cheap local product, but at some point we couldn’t find it any more, so we tried with supposedly better and rather expensive brands, but with no success, and he gave up. Now when our younger son needs it too, I searched a bit, compared the ingredients, and realized it was (most probably) the combination of vitamins that did the miracle. At the moment, it seems I’ll be able to hunt down that “cheap” product, in which case I’ll post the list of its ingredients here, in hope it can help other people too.

  13. Tara says:

    I really appreciated your info on this problem I have not had a diagnosis as of yet. But I do believe this is exactly what my son has. I was worried at first but he is only 11 months and I figured that he would show discomfort if it were something dangerous. So I stopped being so worried. It is very hard to get in to see our Dr. So this has really set my mind at ease. I thought that it was something very dangerous.But feel much better now. Hopefully my Dr. will have the same diagnosis and then I can work on helping him with this problem. Thank you for the tips as well. I will be trying all of them also.

  14. Jen says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with this. It will save me from a lot of trial and error. :)

  15. Heather says:

    My son is 6 months old and was just diagnosed with this today and as I was searching for some guidance stumpled across the blog. Thank you all for your posts and for some guidance on what to try. I really do hope that it is something we can manage. I feel so bad for him, even though at this point he could careless.

  16. Mama angel says:

    I have been uneasy with my son’s skin condition as well. I think he has KP but not confirmed yet…

  17. jenn says:

    my children have this on their cheeks we took my first daughter to the dermatologist right away… we use organic cream and it is usually under control. The best part of having this the dr. told us if you suffer from KP you usually never get acne. that was true for me, i hope it is true for my kids.

  18. JLM says:

    Hi there,
    Thanks for posting this. We do not have an official diagnosis yet, but after doing some research and realizing my husband seems to have KP, we think this may be what our son has on his cheeks, he is 9 months old. Just a question about the Borage cream you mentioned in your post, did you use it on his face, or just on other parts of his body? Every cream I have used on his face has not worked at all, so I am still looking!

  19. Johnny says:

    I remember finding out that I had Keratosis Pilaris when I couldn’t stop scratching the itchy skin on the top of my leg. This is a great and informative post so thank you!

  20. Liz Pabst says:

    Hey Mama, I’ve had KP for about 15 years now. It truly is a frustrating disease. I feel for your kids going thru it… I know how mean other kids can be.

    The best remedy I’ve tried is by some lady named Angela Steinfeld or something… http://banishmybumps.com I’ve been diligent with her program for about 3 months now and its been a pleasant surprise.

  21. Sara says:

    My daughter was diagnosed at six months also and while she doesn’t notice now (at ten months) I don’t want her to become self conscious about it. I know what it’s like to be very self conscious about your skin as I have a very large port wine stain birthmark on my side that as a child (and adult) people would stare and ask if it was a rash.

    Do you add the flax seed oil into every bottle? or a certain amount per day. I’ve also heard of doing apple cider vinegar as a toner recently but have not tried that yet.

  22. KKO says:

    My son has had KP since birth and is now 28 months old. We have a dermatologist, naturopath, pediatrician, dietician, etc. No remedy has worked yet, and his is so bad that he has 10-30 new pustules a day on his legs. The only thing that stopped his pustules last winter was 3 rounds of antibiotics which ruined his stomach. Now that he is talking everyday he says “Mommy hurts” as he points to his large pustules.
    We use all natural soap and coconut oil with Vitamin E to moisture after every bath. He also has a bleach bath (1 cup) every second bath which seems to help. We are now trying the sour cream with sugar every night, and apple cider vinegar tonic. He does take Flax Seed Oil, Cold Liver Oil and Borage Oil everyday in his special formula. He eats every healthy due to his food interolances. I am at my wits end and all my research has not led to anything else.

  23. Matilda says:

    You can try aloe vera, tea tree and witch hazel to help control the flare ups.

  24. shenaaz says:

    Hi,I’m from south africa and my daughter has also been diagnosed with keratosis picaris .we ve been to dermatologists but they just suggest sun block and moisturizer.nothing seems to help.I feel so bad cos it comes from my genes!!the worst is when people ask what’s on her face.(People sometimes are so un sensitive)

  25. tiff says:

    I’m so sick of reading topical remedies! I need to cure this from the inside out. My 4 yo has just came down with this over the past year. I hate to think that its genetic because although I have it I have just recently gotten it too. Now my 16 month old is showing signs. I NEVER had it until now. I have tried ALL creams. I know its originating internally, it has to be! Don’t just treat the symptoms. thank you for your welcomed input on actual studied that linked an internal problem. I’ve tried coconut oil without avail. I will try flaxseed. Thanks!

  26. Life of Riley says:

    My seven-year-old was diagnosed with KP at age four, but it was mild. It got worse about a year ago, so I made some drastic changes to treat the problem internally and externally. He has always eaten an organic diet with a lot of whole foods, but I removed gluten and dairy. He was already on probiotics, fish oil, and a whole food vitamin, but I added cod liver oil and switched to a vitamin with a better amount and source of vitamin A. Externally, I had long since switched to Seventh Generation perfume and dye-free detergent and fabric softener, but began doing a second rinse on all of his clothes, bedding, and towels. I tried alpha hydroxy lotion for a few months on his skin, but discontinued in the spring because I did not want to worry about sun exposure in the warmer weather. It did not make a difference anyway. I began bathing him nightly before bed using Dr. Bronner’s hemp tea tree oil soap. I exfoliated him in the tub with a coconut oil/sugar scrub I made. I tried coconut oil mixed with helischrysum, tea tree, lavender, and sea buckthorn seed oils. There has been some improvement on his arms and legs, but his face is very sensitive, and he has flare ups on his cheeks about every two weeks to two months, and I cannot determine the trigger. In the summer, spending time out in the sun does wonders for his body, but makes his face worse. KP on the face for him begins with red, flushed, very hot cheeks that lead to dry skin, and then red bumps that seem to be irritated and sometimes infected pores. This happens no matter what we do. Some of these spots look like infected bug bites, but they are KP, and can take 10-14 days to clear up, and by then more may have popped up. The facial issues are extremely upsetting and I am feeling quite desperate after a year of them, and just want my boy to have a clear complexion on his cheeks. I spend hours per week doing internet research, and reading through blogs and message boards for help. This may be “harmless” physically, but it certainly is harmful from an emotional standpoint. With such a high percentage of the population dealing with KP, one would think that effective treatments would be worth creating.

  27. khervie says:

    i really find your blog helpful. i also have a blog about keratosis pilaris about what i do to solve it.. check it out!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] A Mama’s Blog placed an observative post today on Keratosis PilarisHere’s a quick excerptNothing has been that miracle, but I have noticed that the more natural lotions, seem to lock in the moisture after Ryan’s bath better. Right now, Shikai Borage Dry Skin Therapy Lotion is doing a very nice job. … [...]

  2. [...] Instead, be sure to calm and HYDRATE the skin (the condition tends to get worse with dryness.) [...]

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