Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Dealing with keratosis pilaris, better known as chicken skin, can be a huge pain. Those little bumps on your arms, thighs, and legs don't itch or irritate your skin, but you can definitely see them and feel them. You might've tried to scrub them away with a body scrub or hope that applying extra moisturizer will soften the skin and encourage them to gradually fade. But those bumps caused by keratosis pilaris require a little extra attention.
They're painless and harmless, so you don't really need to do anything about them unless, of course, you want the smoothest and clearest possible skin. According to Mayo Clinic, keratosis pilaris, or chicken skin, is caused by a buildup of keratin, the protein that protects your skin. It clogs up your pores and blocks the hair follicle which makes your skin bumpy and rough.
The best treatment isn't an abrasive scrub but is actually acid. Products with ingredients like alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, and glycolic acid that are formulated to treat keratosis pilaris are effective solutions. To learn more about the best keratosis pilaris treatments you can buy now, read on.
Best Lotion: CeraVe Renewing SA Lotion
This lotion was developed in partnership with dermatologists, so you know it’s trustworthy. The CeraVe Renewing SA Lotion not only hydrates your skin like most body lotions, but it also exfoliates at the same time. It’s formulated with salicylic acid to help get rid of rough skin by smoothing it while lactic acid exfoliates the surface of the skin to renew it. It also has three different kinds of ceramides, which are made of lipids that help protect the skin’s barrier, meaning that keratin won’t be able to keep clogging up your pores. What's more, this treatment adds extra hydration in the colder months without any added fragrance.
Best Cream: AmLactin Ultra Smoothing Alpha Hydroxy Intensely Hydrating Cream
If you have severely dry skin, it’s best to skip the lotion and go straight to a thicker, more intensive cream treatment. The AmLactin Ultra Smoothing Alpha Hydroxy Therapy Intensely Hydrating Cream is made with alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) to really exfoliate rough, dry, and irritated skin. The acid works to get rid of bumps while rich humectants add hydration into the skin to keep it feeling soft.
“For most of my life, I've had bumpy skin on the backs of my arms, and then as an adult, the backs of my thighs joined in making it impossible to wear sleeveless tops or shorts,” one reviewer said. “I read the reviews on Amlactin and it's really been working for me. It's really helped bring down the inflammation and has smoothed out my skin so I don't feel the need to pick at the bumps.”
Best Exfoliating: Pearigo Ammonium Lactate Lotion 12%C-P
For anyone with persistently bumpy skin, sometimes you need something heavy duty to get back to smooth, clear skin. This Pearigo Ammonium Lactate Lotion 12 percent C-P has a much higher concentration of lactic acid than most over the counter products. At 12 percent lactic acid, this prescription strength lotion was made to fight against stubborn chicken skin by exfoliating the rough skin away.
“I had to use it twice daily for two weeks, but this stuff is the only thing that has really helped my keratosis pilaris,” one reviewer said. “And I've tried everything! I started wearing tank tops for the first time!”
Best for Face: Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Serum
The skin on your face is much more sensitive than the skin on the rest of your body, so it’s important to find a KP treatment that’s not too harsh but equally as effective. The Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Serum has 4 percent glycolic acid to retexture the skin and smooth away bumps as well as fine lines. It also refines pores to clear them out and make them appear smaller. The aloe vera in this treatment helps to soothe the skin as well. Apply it after cleansing but before your moisturizer to let it sink into the skin and do its work.
Best Scrub: Lilah James KP Exfoliating Scrub
Unlike many other products to prevent KP, this scrub does not contain any acids. It’s meant to exfoliate dead skin, helping new skin cells to form and open up the hair follicles to get rid of the built-up keratin in there that causes bumpy, chicken skin. It’s made with organic coconut, tamanu, jojoba, and sunflower oils to penetrate the follicle and get to the root to clear it out. Then, a blend of vitamins nourishes the skin. After using this scrub, you can use a gentle acid-based KP product to prevent further keratin build up.
Best Body Wash: Keratone KP Body Wash
The Keratone KP Body Wash makes treating KP easy since it combines two of your steps in one. Washing your body with this body wash not only keeps you clean, it gently exfoliates the skin with 10 percent glycolic acid. It’s formulated to reduce redness, bumps, and irritation without being loaded with chemicals. It’s formulated with apricot kernel oil, organic jojoba oil, and organic aloe to feed your skin and keep it smooth and hydrated after exfoliating with the glycolic acid.
Best for Arms: Excipial Urea Hydrating Healing Lotion
If harsher products aren’t your thing, the Excipial Urea Hydrating Healing Lotion might be perfect for treating your keratosis pilaris. Urea is a gentle emollient meant to soften the skin. It gets down into the rough layer of your skin and works to loosen it so the scaly parts shed, leaving softer skin behind.
One reviewer said that this product is especially good at getting rid of sandpaper-like skin while another loved it for its non-greasy formula.