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The Best Products for Keratosis Pilaris Treatment, According to Dermatologists

The right skin-care products can make a world of difference for keratosis pilaris treatment. Find out which over-the-counter formulas dermatologists recommend here.
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Dealing with keratosis pilaris (also popularly known as KP) on your arms can be incredibly frustrating — especially if you don't know how to make the rough and bumpy patches go away and stay away.

If you're unfamiliar with the common skin condition, keratosis pilaris "is caused by a buildup of keratin in the pores, which can clog the opening of the hair follicles," explains Melanie Palm, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Art of Skin MD in Solana Beach, California.

Keratosis pilaris bumps on your arm are "a dry skin marker," according to Corey L. Hartman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Alabama. The skin condition has to do with "the lack of moisturization and effective exfoliation in areas that don't have adequate oil supply," says Dr. Hartman. (More: How to Decode Skin Conditions, Rashes, and Bumps On Your Vagina)

The upper arms are one such area without a lot of oil supply, but keratosis pilaris can also occur on the thighs and on the back according to Dr. Hartman. Children can sometimes experience it on their faces, he adds.

As mentioned above, some of the hallmark symptoms of KP include rough and bumpy skin. "That's what people complain about," says Dr. Hartman. "Sometimes [the skin will] itch. It might get inflamed from time to time, especially if the weather's really dry, but generally, it's more like a feeling that people don't like and their skin just doesn't look smooth."

While there's no cure for KP on the arms, the good news is that it can be treated and managed, according to Dr. Hartman. Keratosis pilaris should be treated by a dermatologist, but the correct skin-care formulas can make "a big difference" in reducing the appearance of the bumps, adds Dr. Palm. When considering what keratosis pilaris treatment products to use (in tandem with your doc) hydration, moisturization, and exfoliation are key, according to Dr. Hartman.

What to Look for In a Keratosis Pilaris Arms Treatment

When it comes to moisturizers to help treat keratosis pilaris, the most effective formulas contain humectants, emollients, and occlusive ingredients, says Blair Murphy-Rose M.D., a board-certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist at Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York. "Look for ingredients such as ceramides, shea butter, petrolatum, dimethicone, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid. For my KP patients, I typically recommend moisturizers that contain exfoliators for a 2-in-1," says Dr. Murphy-Rose.

Skin-care products that help restore the skin barrier and those that contain hydroxy-acid-containing to encourage exfoliation can be helpful too, says Dr. Hartman.

Consistency, in terms of how frequently you use these products for keratosis pilaris treatment, is also key when it comes to effectively treating KP, notes Dr. Murphy-Rose.

"I tell all of my patients with keratosis pilaris that the most important thing is to be religious about your KP regimen," says Dr. Murphy-Rose. "Keratosis pilaris is stubborn and can be difficult to treat. If you moisturize twice a day every day and adhere to a solid exfoliation routine, you should see a significant improvement."

Need some help actually selecting products to use for keratosis pilaris treatment on your arms? Keep scrolling to check out six dermatologist-approved products to treat those pesky bumps on your arms.

The Best Derm-Approved Products to Try for Keratosis Pilaris Treatment

CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin

Buy it, $19

One keratosis pilaris arm treatment approved by derms is the CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin. 

"I love this formulation because it combines salicylic acid, effective in exfoliating and smoothing the skin, with hyaluronic acid and ceramides to lock in hydration and promote the health of your skin barrier," says Dr. Palm. The lightweight formula is also formulated without fragrance and is labeled as being non-comedogenic (aka it won't clog your pores). When using any face or body product formulated with salicylic acid, it's important to apply sunscreen before going outdoors, adds Dr. Palm. (Related: The Best Salicylic Acid Face Wash for Every Skin Type).

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Wash AP+

Buy it, $15

Body cream isn't the only product you'll want to have on deck to manage keratosis pilaris. The right body wash can help you manage this condition as well. This formula from La Roche-Posay "gives a good lather, but it doesn't dry the skin out," according to Dr. Hartman. The moisturizing factor also helps protect the skin from drying out while you're bathing, adds Dr. Hartman.

Paula's Choice Weightless Body Treatment 2% BHA

Buy it, $10

This salicylic acid-infused moisturizer from Paula's Choice works to unclog pores and treat keratosis pilaris bumps on arms by exfoliating built-up layers of dead skin. "It also contains antioxidants to counteract free radicals from sun exposure," adds Dr. Palm. (More: This Serum Faded My Acne Scars and Made My Pores Look Smaller In Three Weeks). 

First Aid Beauty KP Smoothing Body Lotion

Buy it, $26

This body lotion for keratosis pilaris treatment from First Aid Beauty gets the stamp of approval from Dr. Murphy-Rose.  The formula's lactic acid and urea work together to exfoliate the skin, while a combo of colloidal oatmeal, glycerin, and ceramides moisturize and soothe the skin, says Dr. Murphy-Rose. "I have recommended it to countless patients who have reported back favorably, and I personally use it as a skin smoother," adds Dr. Murphy-Rose.

Gold Bond Rough & Bumpy Skin Therapy Cream

Buy it, $10

This body cream to treat KP bumps on the arms has more than 7,000 five-star ratings on Amazon. Many customers advocate for its effectiveness in improving the appearance of keratosis pilaris bumps on arms. It's an "excellent 2-in-1 treatment for treating KP on the arms," says Dr. Murphy-Rose, as it contains multiple ingredients to both exfoliate and deeply moisturize the skin. (Related: How to Find the Best Face Exfoliator for Your Skin-Care Routine.)  

AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion

Buy it, $13

This drugstore body lotion for treating keratosis pilaris tackles exfoliation on top of moisturization, thanks to the 12 percent lactic acid included in the formula (and it's recommended by Dr. Hartman). The brand also claims it's non-greasy and promotes softer, smoother skin. (More: The Best Lactic-Acid Skin-Care Products, According to Dermatologists).