Friday, September 26, 2014

Managing KP

Shortly after Isaac had his first birthday, he finally started hands & knees crawling. Aside from obviously being slow to get moving, he also started developing some dry skin on his legs. I brushed it off as being rug burn, put a little extra lotion on and didn't think twice about it. Fast forward a few months and Isaac is walking, but the mystery rug burn doesn't get better. In fact, it looks a little less like dry skin and a little more rashy. At Isaac's 18 month well-child check up, our pediatrician gave the rash a name and brushed it off as being completely benign.

Keratosis Pilaris

Chances are good that if you don't have KP yourself, you know a few people who do. It's often described as "chicken skin" and typically can be found on the upper arms and upper thighs. It's usually dry, red, bumpy skin that doesn't itch or burn. It's not contagious, but it is genetic and according to some sources I've looked into, 40% of the population (and up to 80% of teenagers!) has keratosis pilaris... including my husband.

Which is why initially, I wasn't too concerned with Isaac's rash. It never bothered him, but I noticed as he got older, the rash was spreading much further. Not only did it grow to cover both legs from hip to ankle, but he also has smaller areas on the backs of both arms. It totally became a cosmetic issue. When other kids (and adults too!) started making comments about his arms and legs, my protective momma bear side kicked into high gear. Living in coastal Texas doesn't afford us the ability to wear pants year round, and life is hard enough without having to field some negative comments from onlookers, so I was ready to find something that would improve the condition of Isaac's skin.
This is the best photo I could get of my little wiggler... strapped in the car seat! You can see the bumps above and below both knees and even a little on both forearms.
After lots of trial and error, here are a few of my tips & tricks for dealing with keratosis pilaris, because I can do the math and am assuming that almost every other person reading this blog has some patchy areas of keratosis pilaris.  My hope is that this post will answer some questions and give some encouragement to other people or moms who are trying to manage KP. (And as a side note: I'm not a medical doctor and must recommend checking in with your primary care provider for any suspicious rashes.)

1. A GOOD moisturizer. I use coconut oil on Isaac's legs usually once per day, sometimes twice. Keratosis pilaris can worsen as skin gets drier, so keeping the areas well moisturized is really important. Other great moisturizers that we've tried: Aquaphor and Aveeno body cream. I got many recommendations for Cetaphil, and while it's not irritating, it's also not great for long term moisturization. My favorite so far has been the coconut oil, and it's not just because it makes my little buddy smell good enough to gobble!

As a side note, I have yet to try adding an essential oil to his coconut oil, but am curious to know if there are any good options for skin care/condition. Any of you EO girls have an input?

2. Routine exfoliation. Isaac has his own loofah, go figure. Getting that dry, dead skin off is important, so about once per week, he gets a good scrub down. It's also important to change the washcloth with each bath, so you're not rubbing old dead skin cells and bacteria over already irritated skin.

3. Lactic Acid/Glycolic Acid/AHA creams. This has by far made the biggest difference in Isaac's break outs. The photo above was taken earlier today and we've been using this for about 2 weeks now... if only I had taken a "before" photo! There are several OTC creams out there with small amounts of lactic acid, which really help to slough away those dead skin cells. We are currently using Amlactin and because of Isaac's age, we only use it once per day. It can burn or sting people with more sensitive skin, but doesn't phase Isaac one bit (nor does it bother my hands after I put it on him). Remember, anytime you use an AHA cream, it is important to wear plenty of sunscreen, as your chances of getting sunburned are higher.

My hope is that as Isaac grows older, it'll be less noticeable and easier to contend with. This 3-pronged combination of "treatments," has really started to make a substantial improvement. Of course, that didn't stop a curious 5 year old from asking, "What's he allergic to?!? (nothing.) Why are his legs so bumpy?! (it's just his skin.) It looks weird. (you look weird.) Does he have mosquito bites?? (no.) Why are his legs so red??? (go away kid.)"

Kids can be real turds sometimes.


Lauren Lu said...

I too have KP!

The best treatment I've found for myself is dry oil (ironically from the beachy spray from Julep) and gentle exfoliation like St. Ives Sea Salt body wash.

Amlactin does burn the dickens out of my skin so I cut down to using it only once a week. Yet, I can still feel the effects days after washing it off.

And you're absolutely right about moisturizing! If I don't everyday, I get very itchy in the night and wake up. My dermatologist said I should grow out of it by the time I'm 30, so I've got 5 months (yeah right).

Thanks so much for sharing!

Amanda McD said...

Thanks for posting this. I've always chalked the bumps on Carter's legs and arms up to eczema, but KP sounds more like it. I'll try the coconut oil!

Georgia Fulenwider said...

Hollie, he is seriously the cutest little boy ever! It angers me that other kids are so mean! You mentioned that you would open to EO's. I started using EO's a little over a year ago and LOVE everything about them. If you are interested let me know. I'd be happy to hook you up or check out my website at I'd also be willing to send you a sample of some EO's oils good for KP. Msg me on FB or email at
Blessings to all of you!

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