I get reader questions nearly every week looking for natural remedies for keratosis pilaris. If you don’t have keratosis pilaris (KP), then chances are good that someone you know does: apparently, this skin condition affects about 50% of the world population.
Keratosis pilaris usually manifests as red, brown or flesh-colored goose flesh bumps usually on the upper arms but it can also appear on the back, face or legs. Here’s what it looks like on someone’s arm with lighter skin, and on the thigh of a darker skinned person.
What causes keratosis pilaris?
With KP the skin either makes an excess of keratin (a protein that helps provide structure to the skin) or the body is unable to turn-over old keratin.. Either will lead to too much keratin which can then clog pores and sometimes also trap hair inside follicles.
Some people say keratosis pilaris is a genetic thing, but we know from epigenetics that just because you have a gene for something, environment and the decisions you make about food and lifestyle can affect whether or not that gene expresses. So, to heal your skin (or suppress the gene that will cause chicken skin to appear) you need to work from the inside out by choosing the right foods and getting rid of what isn’t helping you.
Natural remedies for keratosis pilaris
While KP is generally not physically uncomfortable, many folks don’t appreciate the bumpy appearance and texture of their skin. Luckily you can usually treat keratosis pilaris with a few simple changes and a bit of patience.
#1 – Ditch the junk
You’ve heard this so many times that it probably sounds more like “waa-waa-waa” in your head than the actual suggestion that junk food is bad for you. If you are still eating fast food; eating packaged, processed products; and ‘forgetting’ to read labels at the grocery store – it’s time to WAKE UP.
A reader commented recently that my Facebook page had “useful information, I suppose, but… it’s making me feel neurotic about food! Gah. We can’t just eat any more! What a shame!”
Well, somebody’s got to be the bearer of bad news, so it may as well be me.
Our food system is broken. If you are wondering why your body isn’t acting how you’d like (say, getting unsightly bumps all over your upper arms) you should probably consider what you’re eating (and putting on your body in the form of soaps, lotions, and detergents) that may be contributing to the problem. If you’re still immersing yourself with junk, there is no real mystery as to why your health is junky too.
Specifically for keratosis pilaris, I would make extra certain that you are not eating foods with new-fangled vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, vegetable a.k.a. soybean, grape seed, cottonseed AND canola oils. These non-traditional vegetable oils are packed with super unstable PUFAs (poly-unsaturated fatty acids). PUFAs are quite possibly the worst of the modern food offenders, creating extensive inflammation and disrupting hormones and metabolism. Learn more about PUFAs here.
#2 – Heal your digestion
Even if you don’t have obvious digestive problems, if you suffer from skin conditions, allergies, weakened immune system, or even psychological imbalance, it is very likely linked to a digestive weakness and/or gut flora imbalance.
This can be due to a chronically poor diet, a period of high stress, or even as little as a single course of antibiotics at some point in your life.
“Healing your gut” is usually not a quick and easy process, but something that you cultivate over time, just like a good farmer cultivates healthy soil for his crops.
In addition to restoring good gut flora with probiotic supplements and foods, you may also need to heal your metabolism. The Nourished Metabolism, a new ebook by Elizabeth Walling, is the perfect guide to get your started.
#3 – Eat vitamin C-rich foods every day
Vitamin C is essential for collagen formation, helps to maintain the integrity of skin tissue, and counteracts free radicals which elicit inflammation throughout the body.
Specifically with keratosis pilaris, adequate Vitamin C can reduce redness and inflammation and prevent common cork-screw ingrown hairs. While you could take a supplement, it makes far more sense to me to simply eat some fresh, seasonal fruit daily.
#4 – Eat liver!
If you suffer from keratosis pilaris, it is quite probable that you are not getting enough vitamin A. Without adequate amounts of this fat-soluble vitamin, over time the skin cells begin to excrete an excess of keratin creating dry, rough, scaly bumps. (source)
While many folks think that they can get vitamin A from eating foods like carrots, spinach, and sweet potatoes, it’s essential to understand that carotene in plant foods will probably not provide adequate daily vitamin A. It’s true that beta carotene can be converted to vitamin A in your body once they make it into your blood, but what you may not know is that carotene is not always absorbed efficiently. (source)
Taking true vitamin A as a supplement, however, can also be dangerous since vitamin A toxicity is also a risk.
SO… that brings us to liver. Liver is far and away the best source of naturally occurring vitamin A. If you are in the small minority that like liver, great! Eat it at least 1-2 times per week. If not, you can find some suggestions to feed liver to even the pickiest eater here.
If you simply can’t fathom the taste you can try of these ways of getting Vitamin A naturally:
- Cod liver oil capsules – Cod liver oil is good idea for everyone even if you are eating liver and especially for those with keratosis pilaris. (learn what’s the best cod liver oil here)
- Dessicated liver capsules (like these)
- Homemade liver ‘pills‘ – check back next week for my post on how to make your own!
There you have it. Ditch the junk, heal your metabolism, eat oranges and liver… Chicken skin begone!
Which natural remedies for keratosis pilaris have worked for you?