Have you ever wondered about those red bumps on your upper arms, thighs and other parts of your body that do not budge at all?

Maybe you’ve thought it was acne. If acne treatments haven’t worked, that might not be it.  There’s a possibility you may be suffering from keratosis pilaris.


keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris, commonly known as chicken skin, is a common skin disorder characterized by small, red, acne-like bumps on the upper arms, buttocks, legs, and cheeks that are mostly dry, rough and itchy. (1)

Keratosis pilaris has a strong genetic component and may be associated with dry skin conditions like eczema. It tends to worsen during the winter months. (1)

What causes Keratosis Pilaris?

The condition may be a result of excess keratin protein in the skin that plugs hair follicles and causes bumps on the skin.


Another hypothesis suggests that it might be the result of abnormal follicular keratinization due to the rupture of the follicular epithelium. (1)

It is a benign condition that disappears or improves as you get older, typically near your 30s.

keratosis pilaris

Natural Ways to Fight the Condition

While there is no known cure for the problem, your doctor may be able to prescribe medication that can curb the condition to an extent.

But for those who prefer natural home remedies, here are some options you can try to treat keratosis pilaris (chicken skin).

Method 1: Follow a Diet with Helpful Nutrients

Maintaining a proper diet can be one of the most effective remedies for treating dryness of the skin that comes from keratosis pilaris.


The key is to keep your skin hydrated from within. Drinking water and eating fruits and vegetables is important.

diet with helpful nutrients for keratosis pilaris

Nuts, oily fish and other food sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids also help hydrate your skin from the inside. Following a Paleo diet works wonders in controlling the spread of the condition.

Here are a few things you must include in your diet to restrict the spread of these annoying bumps.

  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like cold-water fish including tuna, mackerel, and salmon; sprouted chia and flaxseeds, black cumin seeds and walnuts.
  • Carrots and pumpkin as they are rich in vitamins A and E. Drinking a glass of carrot juice every day helps to restrict the production of keratin.

Method 2: Use Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Apple cider vinegar contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that help fight infections.

Also, the acids present in the vinegar work as an exfoliating agent to peel away excess skin cells that may be plugging your hair follicles.

Although studies have not been done to prove this method is effective, many have tried it with successful results.

Single-Step Treatment: Apply ACV twice every day

acv for keratosis pilaris

  • Soak a cotton ball in raw, unfiltered ACV.
  • Apply it generously on the affected area.
  • Leave it on for about 15 minutes before rinsing it off.
  • If your skin becomes too dry, grab some coconut oil to moisturize your skin.

Repeat the process twice every day until you get desired results.

Method 3: Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer for conditions with dry skin. It contains unique fatty acids that are easily absorbed to moisturize the skin. (3)


Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help reduce redness and inflammation on your skin.

Moreover, the oil is rich in lauric acid that assists in breaking up keratin buildup in the skin, thus unclogging hair follicles and reducing itchy bumps.

Single-Step Treatment: Massage coconut oil on the affected area

massage coconut oil for keratosis pilaris

  • Put a small amount of coconut oil on your fingertip and apply it directly on the affected skin.
  • Gently massage the oil into the skin for 1 minute. This ensures deeper penetration of the oil into the skin, thus treating and healing it from inside.

Follow the treatment 3 to 4 times a day until you see a difference.

Method 4: Use Exfoliation and Moisturizing

Another effective remedy to get rid of keratosis pilaris includes regular exfoliation and moisturizing your skin. (1)

While regular exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells from the surface of your skin and opens up clogged hair follicles, moisturizing keeps the skin nourished and hydrated to reduce redness and inflammation.

Here are three natural ways in which you can exfoliate your skin.

# Use Dry Brushing

Dry brushing is an easy way to exfoliate your skin to get rid of problem areas. Dry brushing encourages the turnover of cells, thus helping unclog hair follicles.

dry brushing for keratosis pilaris

Just grab a brush, loofah or a sponge and rub down the areas affected by keratosis pilaris. Do this every time you bathe until you get the desired results.

Alternatively, a washcloth will also do, but a sponge is always a better choice if you have sensitive skin. Do not scrub or rub the bumps too hard, as this will only worsen the condition.

Note: Exfoliating your skin tends to leave it a bit dry, which may further cause inflammation, itching, and redness. Thus, after dry brushing, make sure to moisturize your skin. Massage coconut oil/olive oil on your skin as these oils penetrate deeper into the skin to form a protective shield that keeps it soft and supple for a long time.

# Use Oatmeal Skin Scrub

Oatmeal works as an incredible exfoliating agent to wipe away dead skin cells, while also keeping the skin nourished and moisturized. Oatmeal also absorbs oils from your skin and thus works as a cleanser.

Moreover, the anti-inflammatory properties of oatmeal help soothe and heal the itchy bumps on your skin.


Things you’ll need:

oatmeal scrub keratosis pilaris

  • Oatmeal (excellent exfoliating agent) – 2 tablespoons
  • Water – 2 to 3 tablespoons
Step 1. Add water to oatmeal to form a scrub

add water to oatmeal for keratosis pilaris

  • Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water to 2 tablespoons of oatmeal.
  • Mix well to form a scrub.
Step 2. Use the scrub on the affected skin

apply oatmeal scrub on keratosis pilaris

  • Apply the scrub on the affected areas.
  • Gently rub in circular motions for 3 to 4 minutes, the rinse it off with normal water. Alternatively, to avoid the mess, you can bundle up some oatmeal in a thin muslin cloth, soak it in water and then rub it over your skin while bathing.
Step 3. Moisturize with coconut oil/olive oil

moisturize with coconut/olive oil for keratosis pilaris

  • Pour a small amount of olive oil/coconut oil into a bowl and use your fingers to massage it gently over the affected areas.
  • Leave the oil on overnight and rinse it off in the morning. Alternatively, you may allow the oil to sit for 2 to 3 hours before washing it off with lukewarm water.

While olive oil is rich in vitamin E and other essential vitamins and minerals, coconut oil's anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties prove incredibly amazing for healing the itchy, red bumps on the skin.

Follow the treatment once each day for a week or until you achieve the desired results.

# Use Baking Soda and Salt

Baking soda is yet another effective cleaning and an exfoliating agent that helps slough off dead skin cells and prevent plugged follicles.

Moreover, baking soda contains antibacterial properties that help keep your skin free of germs and infections.

In addition to this, salt is full of trace minerals and its granules further help exfoliate and rejuvenate your skin. (2)

Things you’ll need:

baking soda and salt for keratosis pilaris

  • Baking soda (helps slough off dead skin cells) – 1 tablespoon
  • Table salt (helps rejuvenate your skin) – 1 tablespoon
Step 1. Mix baking soda and salt to form a paste

mix baking soda and salt for keratosis pilaris

  • Put 1 tablespoon of baking soda in a bowl.
  • Add an equal portion of salt to it.
  • Mix the dry ingredients together.
  • Add just enough water to form a paste.
Step 2. Apply the paste on the affected skin

apply the paste on keratosis pilaris

  • Apply the mixture on the affected areas and let it dry for 10 minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water.
Step 3. Moisturize with coconut oil/olive oil

moisturize with coconut oil keratosis pilaris

  • Apply coconut oil/olive oil directly on your skin several times a day. You can also leave the oil on overnight.
  • It is best to use the oil on damp skin, as the moist skin helps in better retention of the moisture from the oil. So, when possible, apply the oil after a bath while your skin is still wet. If you find it getting too greasy, you can wipe off some of the oil with a soft towel.

The moisturizing and hydrating properties of coconut oil/olive oil are effective for treating keratosis pilaris as one of the key causes of the condition is dry skin.

Repeat the treatment 3 or 4 times a week to remove dead skin cells and unclog plugged follicles.

Tips to keep in mind

  • Do not use soaps for cleaning the skin bumps or rashes. Soap may dry out the skin and make the condition worse. Opt for non-soap cleansers.
  • Do not use very hot water for your shower or bath. Use lukewarm water, as hot water tends to dry up your skin.
  • Go out in the sun for a minimum of 20 minutes every day. Deficiency of vitamin D leads to dryness and causes keratosis pilaris.
  • Consume foods rich in vitamins C and E.
  • Always use a moisturizing cream or lotion if you live in a dry and cool area.
  • Drink distilled and pure water. Tap water contains chlorine, lead, and nitrates that can worsen the condition.


  1. Wang JF, Orlow SJ. Keratosis Pilaris and its Subtypes: Associations, New Molecular, and Pharmacologic Etiologies, and Therapeutic Options. SpringerLink. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40257-018-0368-3. Published July 24, 2018.
  2. Yoshizawa Y, Kitamura K, et al. Water, salts and skin barrier of normal skin | Request PDF. Skin Research and Technology. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10944648. Published March 2003.
  3. Anderson B. The Effect of Dietary Change in a Patient With Ichthyosis ... Integrative Medicine: A Clinicians Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566468/. Published June 2015.

Summary of How to Treat Keratosis Pilaris (Chicken Skin)

treat keratosis pilaris

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