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Bumpy Arms? Experts Give Their Favorite Tips For Keratosis Pilaris

how to get rid of bumpy arms

Do you have white or red bumps on your arms that just will. not. go. away? Sometimes these areas also appear on the upper legs, or even on the face. They feel rough, a bit like sandpaper, and if they’re red they’re especially noticeable. You’ve probably tried all sorts of lotions and creams on them, and they just… sit there. Looking bumpy.

Those bumps are Keratosis Pilaris, basically your hair follicles have a bunch of built up proteins that are really stuck together. We’re not really sure what causes it, but the good news is that it will often go away by your early 30’s.

What can you do about it?

A lot of things! Primarily, you need to exfoliate the area to get rid of the plugs. Using special moisturizers to help penetrate into the bumps will help as well. If things are really bad you can even go the laser therapy or Retinoid route, though I’d recommend the help of a physician for those steps. Personally, I do great with a little extra exfoliation (with my Beautisol Hammam Mitt) and AmLactin Lotion.

Read on to see what some of my favorite doctors had to say!

great treatments for keratosis pilaris

Avery Kuflik, MD is a board certified dermatologist with a private practice in New Jersey.

Keratosis Pilaris is a skin condition that affects many people. While there is no cure, fortunately there are ways to keep your skin healthy. Wash with gentle cleansers in a warm/tepid shower and apply moisturizers. For better absorption, it is best to apply moisturizers to the skin while it is still damp. Light exfoliation may help but scrubbing is not recommended as it can make the condition worse. We like to use an exfoliant with a Salicylic or Glycolic Acid cleanser or moisturizer like the Glytone KP kit.

great treatments for keratosis pilaris

James C. Marotta, MD is a double board certified ENT and Plastic Surgeon who practices in Long Island.

No single treatment universally improves Keratosis Pilaris. Most options, including self-care measures and medicated creams, focus on softening the keratin deposits in the skin. 3 treatment options include:

Topical Exfoliants: Medicated creams containing alpha-hydroxy acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid or urea moisturize and soften dry skin while helping to loosen and remove dead skin cells. Depending on their strength, certain creams are available over-the-counter and others require a prescription; the best option can be decided by your doctor.

Topical Retinoids: Derived from vitamin A, retinoids work by promoting cell turnover and preventing the plugging of the hair follicle. Retinoids may be an effective treatment, but they can cause bothersome skin irritations, such as severe dryness, redness and peeling.

Laser Therapy: Certain types of Keratosis Pilaris involving severe redness and inflammation have been successfully treated with laser therapy. Laser treatment involves passing intense bursts of light into targeted areas of skin. This type of treatment may require repeat sessions over the course of a few months, depending on your response.

great treatments for keratosis pilaris

Debra Jaliman, MD is a board certified dermatologist with a private practice in New York City.

Use a Clarisonic to exfoliate the dead skin. The great thing about this is they have different brushes for different skin types. You can also use an over the counter AmLactin cream or lotion it contains lactic acid to breakdown the bumps.


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About Me

Iā€™m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

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  1. 3.13.14
    Carolyn said:

    How does keratosis differ from eczema? I'm not sure which one I have. Something bumpy and unpleasant though, runs in the family šŸ™

  2. 3.13.14

    I have had great luck with Jan Marini Bioglycolic Resurfacing Body Scrub. I'd tried so many things before this that sort of worked, but I decided to splurge on this on a whim and my bumps were nearly completely gone with one use. I've been amazed. It is glycolic acid based.

  3. 3.13.14
    Niki T. said:

    I agree. Exfoliate, exfoliate, Amlactin! I use the Amlactin twice a day. Mine was pretty bad until I started doing this, it completely cleared it up (which my dermatologist said probably wouldn't happen because of how bad mine was).

  4. 3.13.14

    @Carolyn there are some that think KP could be related to eczema, though KP doesn't have a lot of inflammation and isn't related to allergies and asthma like eczema could be. They also hit very different areas of the body. If it is just bumpy, not red and scaly and inflammed, then you have KP.

  5. 3.13.14
    elizabeth said:

    Thank you for the post! My KP went away (or I got it under control) by using AmLactin during the day and Vaseline at night. I did this for about a month and then I ditched the Amlactin and just exfoliated really well with a scrubber in the shower, then moisturized. I really do not think it's necessary to use really expensive products to deal with this.

  6. 3.13.14
    tiffany said:

    Love this post! I get the small bumps on the top of my arms and I find them so annoying. Sometimes they seems to disappear but they always come back šŸ™ x


  7. 3.13.14

    What really worked for me was to not put anything on them. I didn't use soaps, lotions, creams. I just left my upper arms alone (its not like they get dirty).

  8. 3.13.14
    tiffany said:

    Love this post! I suffer from the annoying little bumps on the top of my arms, they sometimes disappear but they always end up coming back unfortunately. Thanks for sharing the tips! x


  9. 3.14.14
    Emily said:

    I have little different problems than mentioned here. Instead of bumps I have black spots and it is not going away at all. Is it Keratosis Pilaris ? They are like in a bunch right at the back of my arms and shoulder.

  10. 3.15.14
    Anonymous said:

    I had this issue as well and found great luck using, oddly enough, desatin creamy. Weird? Yes. But it worked and made my skin baby soft!

  11. 3.15.14

    @Emily KP is a build up of extra cells, which is why you would be able to feel the bumps. It's more likely that you have black heads.

  12. 3.16.14
    Jen Stan said:

    Great post, thank you for the advices. I didn't know about the Clarisonic.

  13. 3.17.14

    I am 44 and still have KP on my arms and thighs. I wish it went away at 30.

  14. 3.18.14
    Anonymous said:

    Thanks for this post! I had never had this before and got it right at the end of my pregnancy and it hasn't gone away. Definitely going to try your suggestions!