What is keratosis pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris mostly affects children and teens. It usually is a harmless skin condition, causing small hard bumps on the skin, which make it look (and feel) like sand paper (1).
The disorder is caused by a buildup of keratin (but nobody knows why keratin starts to buildup).
Excessive keratin blocks the opening of hair follicles, which results in a formation of a hard bump on skin, mostly on upper arms, thighs and buttocks.
Keratosis pilaris may also appear on your face and may sometimes be accompanied with redness or swelling of affected areas.
Sometimes hair follicles may be blocked by an ingrown hair, which results in cyst formation.
While there is no cure for keratosis pilaris, doctors do recommend use of moisturizing creams or lotions, that may alleviate the condition (itching) and improve the look of your skin. In some serious cases, keratosis pilaris may be treated by laser (2) or photopneumatic therapy (3)
One of the home remedies for keratosis pilaris is coconut oil (4). Some of the best ways how to use coconut oil for treatment of keratosis pilaris are described below.
Why coconut oil may be a good remedy for keratosis pilaris?
Coconut oil is easily available and cheap
Treating keratosis pilaris with coconut oil is simple and inexpensive. One method of using coconut oil for treating keratosis pilaris is by rubbing it on the affected area of your skin before showering.
As you take a shower, your pores, even those affected by keratosis pilaris, will open up, causing the coconut oil to penetrate deeper inside your skin, moisturizing it.
Some experts claim that coconut oil may help you get rid of keratosis pilaris in only a week or two.
Why is coconut oil beneficial in treatment of keratosis pilaris?
It is usually not so easy and more studies are necessary to confirm this claim but it is a fact that coconut oil soothes inflamed skin, reduces discoloration of the skin due to the bumps, moisturizes and sanitizes the skin (5).
All these properties of coconut oil help your body get rid of this to purge your body of this “chicken skin” condition.
Coconut oil can easily be used in scrubs
It is ideal for use with scrubs. You can purchase one from the market or prepare your own coconut oil scrub at home. This is a very simple process, as you take the coconut oil and mix it with any kind of abrasive substance. Try to stay away from sugar scrubs, but you can certainly use salt for your keratosis pilaris. Mixing a blend of sea salt and coconut oil and rubbing onto the surface of your condition can aid in both opening up and treating the bumps from the inside.
Coconut oil is a proven cure for keratosis pilaris
A lot of people say that coconut oil is a “miracle product,” and many companies have prepared products such as oils, scrubs and ointments featuring coconut oil as a key ingredient for the treatment of keratosis pilaris.
Coconut oil is a natural product, does not heavily grease the skin (which may make the condition worse), it penetrates deeper in the skin and give it a fresher look.
Even people who abhor (detest) the greasy feeling of traditional oils or have naturally oily skin enjoy the light sensation coconut oil brings to their skin along with a fantastic fragrance.
However you should not put any undue reliance on coconut oil. While it may be used as an alternative to harmful steroid ointments and creams you should always ask your doctor for his/her consent before attempting to use coconut oil for treatment of any condition (including keratosis pilaris)!
Coconut oil does not cause any allergy
An important thing to remember is that coconut oil is a natural remedy and moisturizer, making it an ideal solution for natural treatment of keratosis pilaris or for general skin care. Coconut oil allergies are very rare and it is therefore quite a safe remedy (6).
Coconut oil contains lauric acid
The potency of coconut oil to combat keratosis pilaris is concealed in a fatty acid called lauric acid which is very effective when it comes to treatment of a particularly stubborn case of keratosis pilaris. Lauric acid provides relief from keratosis pilaris by breaking up accumulated layer of keratin and debris of dead skin cells: keratin is the main culprit behind keratosis pilaris as it blocks the hair follicles hence leading to the appearance of these reddish, rough and itchy bumps. Lauric acid also has some antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, reduces redness and sanitizes, cleans and moisturizes the skin (8).
Coconut oil contains vitamin E
The vitamin E present in coconut oil is essential for keeping the skin healthy and radiant. It prevents dryness and cracks by repairing the skin and makes it clear, smooth and glowing. The protein content of coconut oil helps to mend the damaged cells and tissues in the skin (9).
How to use coconut oil in treatment of keratosis pilaris?
General recommendations and advice
Before we start describing various ways how to use coconut oil to deal with "chicken skin disease", here are some general recommendations, which will help you get the most of treatment of your skin disorders:
- Exfoliate regularly – keratosis pilaris occurs because the dead skin cells are not shed off, so you need to get rid of their build-up. Opt for a natural loofah to lather up your virgin coconut oil while taking a shower or a bath, or use a coconut oil scrub. Sugar scrubs are an excellent remedy for keratosis pilaris, ass sugar is a natural glycolic acid (which is good for KP). With coconut oil, you get both exfoliating and healing benefits all in one.
- Don’t forget to moisturize - after taking a shower, dab on a small amount of coconut oil onto your damp skin and rub it in. Wipe away any excess oil if the need arises.
- Maintain a healthy diet – avoid eating foods with trans fats, commonly present in hydrogenated oils and margarine. Virgin coconut oil has no trans fats and is a great substitute for less healthy fats. Also, check out if you have any allergies to dairy products or gluten/wheat, as food allergies can play a major role in bringing about skin conditions like keratosis pilaris. Food items that rank low on the glycemic index (basically less refined carbs) are also related to improvement in symptoms of keratosis pilaris.
- Take supplements – deficiency of omega-3 can worsen KP. Take omega-3 or fish oil supplements after consulting a dietitian, in addition to supplementing with unrefined, virgin coconut oil (ingest about 1-3 tablespoons every day).
- Avoid skin products containing harsh chemicals – avoid soaps and lotions that have ingredients like petroleum, sodium lauryl sulfate, mineral oil, parabens, artificial perfume, and dimethicone. Even some coconut oil formulations that claim to be natural may contain some of these, so check labels carefully before purchasing them.
Coconut oil remedies for Keratosis pilaris (with instructions)
Coconut oil sugar scrub
This coconut oil and sugar scrub will exfoliate your skin to get rid of excess keratin and dead skin cells and other dirt buildup on the skin which is the cause behind keratosis pilaris.
You will need:
- A teaspoon of white sugar
- A teaspoon of brown sugar
- Two teaspoons of virgin coconut oil
- A spoon of honey
- Vanilla extract
- Add two teaspoons of virgin coconut oil and one teaspoon each of brown sugar and white sugar in a bowl.
- Mix well by adding some vanilla extract or a spoon of honey and apply this paste on the areas of skin affected by keratosis pilaris.
- Scrub it gently for about ten to fifteen minutes and then wash it off with clean water.
- Repeat this method at least twice a week in your leisure time to obtain rapid relief from the irksome bumps caused by keratosis pilaris.
You can also simply use sugar – coconut oil mix without the addition of vanilla extract or honey as a scrubbing mix to get rid of keratosis pilaris.
Coconut oil and sugar scrub for keratosis pilaris
Also, you can combine coconut oil with gentle abrasives like sea salt and use this scrub mixture for the skin patches afflicted by the disorder.
Rub it gently for about fifteen minutes to unclog the skin pores and get deep into the layers of skin. For improved results, you should use coconut oil scrubs either before or during a shower.
Whipped coconut oil body butter
This whipped shea butter and coconut oil recipe helps to efficiently moisturize and sanitize the skin and prevents the formation of spiky keratosis pilaris bumps on it (10).
You will need:
- Shea butter
- Liquid vitamin E
- Any essential oil such as lavender oil
- Virgin coconut oil
- Add in two spoons of coconut oil, one part of Shea butter, a teaspoon of liquid vitamin E and some drops of any essential oil such as lavender oil in the mixer.
- Blend it properly and apply this paste on the skin areas affected by keratosis pilaris.
- Leave it on for a few minutes to few hours and then wash it off.
- Repeat this process regularly until your skin gets relief from keratosis pilaris.
Note: You can also use cocoa butter instead of shea butter in this process or you may whip up some virgin coconut oil into a fluffy body butter soap mix and apply the mixture while taking a shower.
Apple cider vinegar & coconut oil rinse
Apple cider vinegar is a great ingredient for using with coconut oil to combat keratosis pilaris as it regulates pH of the skin and maintains the acid-base balance (11). It also has potent antibacterial, antiseptic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (11, 12).
You will need:
- Some coconut oil
- Unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- Some honey
- A bowl
- Mix equal amounts of coconut oil and apple cider vinegar with a little bit of honey in a bowl.
- Stir well until the mixture has a lotion like consistency and apply this lotion on skin areas affected by keratosis pilaris.
- Leave it on for about twenty minutes and then wash it off with cold water.
Regularly follow the same method to get relief from the bumps caused by keratosis pilaris.
Note: You can also simply wash the keratosis pilaris affected areas of your skin with organic apple cider vinegar and then dab on some coconut oil as your moisturizer.
Coconut oil as topical remedy
This simple remedy is the best for treating all types of keratosis pilaris such as rubra, alba, and rubra faceii. It is a popular remedy for treating keratosis pilaris that appears on the face, arms, legs, knees and elbows.
You will need:
- Unrefined, pure coconut oil.
- A loofah or foam pad for exfoliation.
- Take a small amount of virgin coconut oil as needed and dab it over the keratosis pilaris affected skin patches.
- Massage the affected area with coconut oil for a few minutes and leave it on like that for some hours or leave it on overnight.
- Repeat the same method regularly to acquire relief from keratosis pilaris and its irritating symptoms.
Best results can be obtained by applying coconut oil after taking a shower, on damp skin or in the middle of the shower so that your skin is properly moisturized.
Or just apply organic coconut oil on the affected skin before taking a shower so that it penetrates into the inner layers of the skin and infiltrates it deeply to moisturize the skin and further unclogs the pores.
Exfoliate your skin before massaging your skin with coconut oil as to remove dead cells and make the skin smooth and clear.
Coconut oil taken internally
That’s the best thing about coconut oil as a natural remedy. It can both be ingested and also applied topically. Ingesting coconut oil helps to treat the affliction from inside by moisturizing the itchy, dry and rough patches of skin affected by keratosis pilaris.
Here are few ways of including coconut oil in your daily diet:
- Consume one teaspoon of unrefined, virgin coconut oil directly every day and then raise the quantity to two tablespoons twice a day to heal the skin from inside out.
- Use coconut oil for cooking food and also replace your butter or breakfast margarine with organic coconut oil to acquire the benefits of moisturizing the skin from inside out.
Tips and precautions
Coconut oil is a natural product with lots of benefits. Here are some tips and precautions to be kept in mind when using coconut oil to treat keratosis pilaris:
- Always prefer to use virgin, organic and cold pressed coconut oil in place of normal one for achieving maximum moisturizing for the skin. Carefully read the label if you purchase coconut oil from a local store to see if it’s pure.
- Avoid skin care products that contain harsh chemicals and other soaps or lotions which have artificial perfume, mineral oils, parabens or petroleum based products.
- Use a loofah or exfoliating cream or pumice stone or soft washcloth or natural body scrubs to remove dead skin and to alleviate redness and inflammation. Do not scrub too hard or it will irritate the skin further.
- In some cases, coconut oil pulling has found to be very useful in getting a relief from keratosis pilaris.
- Vitamin D is essential for curing keratosis pilaris, so make sure that you expose yourself to sunlight for about half an hour every day. Place a chair in your balcony or lawn and take a sun bath. Remember to regularly apply sunscreen lotion to avoid sunburns, tanning or any further damage to the skin.
- While sleeping, use a humidifier.
- Exclude trans fats, allergy-causing foods from your diet and incorporate more healthy food item in your diet. Drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated. Avoid exposure to allergens and other environmental pollutants. Exfoliate and cleanse your skin regularly to keep your skin free from germs and toxic substances and to prevent recurrence of keratosis pilaris.
- Purchase coconut oil based skin care products such as lotions, creams, and moisturizers rather than harsh cosmetic products containing harmful chemicals or steroids. Use ready made coconut oil skin care products like Nubian heritage coconut and papaya soap, pure Fiji spa coconut sugar scrub, Nutiva organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic Fiji sugar polish, etc. for treating keratosis pilaris. Ask an expert for advice if you are not sure what to buy.
- Exfoliation – using a pumice stone, foam pad or loofah, gently exfoliate the keratosis pilaris afflicted skin with a scrub made with coconut oil. This remedy ensures that the skin pores are unclogged and that the excessive layer of hardened keratin is shed off. It also helps to remove dead skin cells that accumulate over dry skin.
- Rinsing – this method is ignored by many but people who have used coconut oil after rinsing their skin with apple cider vinegar have found it to be very effective. After exfoliation, wash the keratosis pelaris affected area with apple cider vinegar and pat your skin dry with a clean towel or washcloth.
- Massage – apply a small amount of coconut oil or coconut oil based skin care product on affected patches of skin and massage it for a few minutes. This method facilitates coconut oil in infiltrating into the deeper layers of your skin.
- No matter, how big or unpleasant looking the bumps may be, do not apply an excessive amount of coconut oil. Handle it with care and apply a small amount on the affected area.
- Apart from topical application, consumption of one to three tablespoons of coconut oil also helps to get rid of keratosis pilaris. Usually, you will observe improvement in the symptoms in a week. After about three to four weeks of regular application, your skin will become smooth, radiant and glowing.
- Avoid using soaps, lotions, and gels that contain paraben, sulfate, dimenthicone, added fragrances, mineral oils and other harsh chemicals.
- Omega-3 deficiency is also a cause behind keratosis pilaris. Take omega 3 or fish oil supplements but do consult a health care expert first.
- Avoid wheat and dairy products as their consumption may aggravate keratosis pilaris symptoms.
- Consume foods which have a low glycemic index. Low carb food items are included in this category.
- Make sure that the loofah or washcloth you use while exfoliation or massage or using coconut oil remedies is clean and hygienic.
- Don’t exert excessive pressure on the skin while scrubbing as it worsens the condition and causes more inflammation and irritation.
- Always pat dry the affected area with a soft, clean towel or washcloth. Don’t use rough textured pieces of cloth to dry the affected part of your skin.
- Don’t scratch the itchy bumps that erupt over the skin in keratosis pilaris as it will further aggravate the symptoms.
- Don’t expose the affected area of skin to harsh sunlight or pollutants. Cover up the affected area when you go out.
- Avoid going outside in dry weather conditions and when it’s extremely cold.
- Avoid scrubbing or scratching the patches of skin affected by keratosis pilaris.
- Apply antiseptic creams on the skin which contain glycolic acids or alpha-hydroxy acids. They help to bring down the production of keratin in the affected skin area.
- Improve your daily diet and incorporate healthy food items such as vitamin rich foods, green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, cold water fish, and nuts.
Keratosis pilaris (or chicken skin disease) is usually a harmless condition but it can be stressful as it makes your skin look bad (bumps, red spots, blemishes, etc.), to say the least.
While there is no universal cure for this condition, some natural moisturizers, such as coconut oil, may help you make your skin look better and get rid of keratosis pilaris fast.
However you should remember that serious cases of keratosis pilaris need to be treated by your physician (dermatologist).