What Are These Rough Bumps on My Skin, and How Do I Get Rid of Them?

If you have rough, sandpaper-like bumps on the backs of your arms or legs or other areas of your body, you may have keratosis pilaris, or KP. While harmless, KP bumps can be unsightly and annoying and can be a long-term skin problem for both men and women. Luckily, there are some things you can do to get rid of KP bumps and maintain smooth, healthy-looking skin year-round.

What Is Keratosis Pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition that causes small, rough bumps to form on the skin. These bumps can be red or the same color as the rest of your skin tone, and they do not usually hurt or itch. While we do not know the exact cause of KP bumps, we do know that there is a genetic component that causes too much of the protein keratin to be produced. 

Keratin is an important protein that is present in your hair, skin, and nails. However, when too much keratin is produced, it can form these small scaly bumps on your skin. People with dry skin tend to be more susceptible to keratosis pilaris, since flakes of dry skin can become trapped inside pores, causing the buildup of debris and excess keratin within hair follicles.

Keratosis pilaris also appears to be linked with atopic dermatitis, or eczema. Like eczema, KP bumps may go away on their own as a child grows into adulthood. For others, KP bumps can be a long-term skin concern.

How Do I Get Rid of KP Bumps?

The best treatment for KP bumps involves proper moisturization and exfoliation. In some more severe cases, your dermatologist may recommend prescription retinoids or in-office treatments. 

To get rid of KP bumps:

  1. Exfoliate the skin. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, dirt, and other buildup from the surface of the skin to achieve a smoother, more even skin tone and texture. There are two types of exfoliation: chemical and mechanical. The right type for you to use will depend on your skin type. Those with sensitive skin – especially rosacea-prone skin types – should avoid or limit mechanical exfoliation. Instead, ingredients like glycolic acid can be used to lower the pH of the skin and therefore loosen the “glue” that holds skin cells together. This allows the flakes of dead skin and debris to detach from the fresh new cells underneath. Pidanti Smoothing Body Polish is a great option to mechanically exfoliate away these rough bumps to leave skin feeling smooth.
  2. Moisturize with a barrier repair cream. Dry, dehydrated skin worsens KP bumps, so use a barrier repair moisturizer to strengthen the skin barrier, reducing dryness and dehydration. Barrier repair moisturizers work by mimicking the skin’s natural lipid bilayer, which contains equal parts ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol. You can read more about what the skin barrier is and how it functions in this blog. I like Zerafite Ultra Rich Body Cream, which uses MLE technology to restore skin barrier function. Zerafite products can only be purchased using a physician code. Use the code STSMD at to order yours. 
  3. Use a retinoid or other prescription treatment if necessary. For some people, exfoliation and moisturization may not be enough to treat their KP bumps. In this case, work with your dermatologist to create a more customized treatment approach. This might include a prescription retinoid, to be used for four weeks on the affected area. If you are still struggling with KP bumps, you may benefit from using a product such as Essopi Retinol Treatment Serum 5X nightly. If the condition still does not improve, your dermatologist may prescribe additional medications.

Are KP Bumps Preventable? 

Because KP bumps are caused by genetics, they cannot always be entirely prevented. However, you can reduce their appearance and the likelihood that they will show up on your skin again by keeping your skin moisturized and exfoliating several times throughout the week, depending on your skin type.

In addition to using a barrier repair moisturizer, you can also use argan oil to keep your skin smooth and hydrated without worrying about clogged pores. 

In Summary

KP bumps can be a frustrating skin problem for both men and women, but they are often very easily treated with the proper skincare regimen. However, be sure to consult your dermatologist if the bumps on your skin bleed, form scabs, or are painful or itchy. These could be signs of other skin concerns. 

For more skincare tips and advice from Dr. Baumann, be sure to follow Baumann Cosmetic on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

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July 6, 2020 Skincare