061: How To Get Rid Of Keratosis Pilaris (Naturally)

If you’ve been really frustrated with that chicken skin (also known as Keratosis Pilaris), you’re not alone. There’s no medication for it, but there is a way to get rid of KP naturally.

There are a few important considerations though which I want to highlight for you today. I’m sure your doctor has really only said that this is a skin problem.

But the truth is, Keratosis Pilaris is actually a symptom of something else!

Fortunately, you’ve got options to support your skin both with diet tweaks and supplements.

In today’s episode, I’m sharing what you need to know to get rid of Keratosis Pilaris naturally!

In this episode:

  • Why Keratosis Pilaris is not a skin issue
  • The importance of Vitamin A for your skin and other body systems
  • What’s the best test?
  • Keratosis Pilaris diet recommendations
  • Supplements for Keratosis Pilaris

Quotes:

If you have struggled with Keratosis Pilaris, know this — you don't have a skin problem. You have a gut problem. KP is a symptom of something else directing you to investigate. And that something else happens to be low or deficient Vitamin A status.

To up your Vitamin A game in your diet, the easiest and most obvious answer is to add sources that contain it! These foods include liver and cod liver oil, both of which give you way more than your daily value of active vitamin A. You can also choose from other food options that offer a much lower amount but could still be really helpful such as king mackerel, salmon, Bluefin tuna, goat cheese, and butter. Beta-carotene is not the same as active Vitamin A and requires work on your body’s part to make that conversion happen. Not everyone can easily make this conversion.

Happy Woman Jumping

How To Get Rid Of Keratosis Pilaris (Naturally) (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Welcome back to episode #61 of the Healthy Skin Show!

In today's episode, I'm talking all about Keratosis Pilaris.

If you're wondering what exactly that is, it's often described as chicken skin that appears on the back of your arms in the tricep region. It can also appear on your legs, buttocks, and sometimes cheeks.

Keratosis Pilaris can affect both men and women (and children and babies) of any age! Though many sources say that it often improves as you age, that isn't the case for everyone.

You might even think that you've got goosebumps that just never go away!

Now here's the thing about Keratosis Pilaris (KP) — it's not really a skin disorder like all of the other rash conditions that we talk about like Eczema, Psoriasis, Rosacea, etc.

KP is really more of a symptom pointing towards underlying issues. So from a functional nutrition standpoint, it’s a helpful sign that we need to investigate because KP isn't something that will flare up and get worse like eczema, for example.

Food sources of Vitamin A
Food sources of Vitamin A

Keratosis Pilaris Causes You Need To Know

So there are three points to this that are very worthwhile understanding.

If you struggle with KP, you don't have a skin problem. You have a gut problem. 

And I know that for somebody new to this, they might be thinking, “well, it's on my skin, I'm going to the dermatologist. They're looking at my skin so what’s this about the gut?”

But KP is a symptom of something else.

And that's something else happens to be low or deficient Vitamin A.

So when your skin shows KP, that typically tells me as a clinical nutritionist that we need to double-check what's going on with your Vitamin A status.

Are you in an optimal state or are you in an insufficient or deficient state?

And here's the thing, if you're saying to yourself, “Well, you know what? KP doesn't really affect my life all that much. It's not that big of a deal.” 

The reality is that vitamin A is vital, not just for the development of your skin. It's critical for healthy thyroid function, eyesight, and healthy immune function. There's recent research indicating that vitamin A in your digestive system can actually help modulate gut flora.

And so now you're wondering, “All right, what do we do about this? Because if vitamin A is a problem, I'll just take more vitamin A supplements.” 

But here's the issue with that —

Woman considering a few things

If you're low or deficient in vitamin A, you need to consider a couple of things.

First, you’ve got to consume enough vitamin A for your body’s needs.

Second, if you ARE getting a lot of Vitamin A in your diet, then you’ve got to dig! In case you aren’t aware, Vitamin A (along with D, E, and K) is a fat-soluble vitamin. The big question here is this — “Can you properly digest and absorb fats?”

The third most critical point has to do with having the right digestive factors available to support digestion and absorption of fats.

Your gallbladder is integral to the process of absorbing fats (like Vitamin A).

It is a storage center for bile which is then squeezed out in order to solubilize the fat. It's like adding dish soap to a greasy pan in order to wash it. So if you don't have a gallbladder, you’ve got a problem.

You also need lipase which is a type of pancreatic enzyme that specifically breaks down fat.

And here's the other piece to this…

If you have leaky gut, you likely also have higher levels of inflammation in your gut.

Tubes of blood from blood test

Natural Keratosis Pilaris Treatment Tips

At this point, you're wondering “what should I do now?” 

Here are the steps that I would recommend taking!

First of all, get a baseline to understand what your vitamin A level is. Right now the test to get is the serum vitamin A and optimal levels are between 0.8 to 1.0 mg/L.

Here’s my resource for the best skin tests to ask your doctor for!

Next, evaluate your diet for really good sources of vitamin A — like cod liver oil and liver rather than plant-sources that predominately contain Beta-carotene.

The reason is that it can be very difficult for some people to convert beta-carotene to the active form of vitamin A.

If you haven't done this yet, remove gluten from your diet because it has the capacity to increase gut permeability.

We know this from research that every single person's got becomes leakier with exposure to gluten. When your gut has lost its ability to return to a state of being tightly sealed, then we would consider that a state of leaky gut, but gluten alone shouldn't be the only thing that you focus on.

You're also going to remove other allergens that you know of and these would have been diagnosed by a doctor. When I say allergens, I'm indicating IgE Response Allergies that could if they became so severe result in anaphylaxis.

If you have a lot of food sensitivities or an increasing number of them, this is a totally different matter. Yes, it's important to take out foods that you are moderately or severely sensitive to (not mildly sensitive indicated on a food sensitivity test).

That said, if you have an increasing number of sensitivities, I would highly recommend that you explore the possibility of gut microbiome dysbiosis or infections.

They typically drive the increasing leakiness of your gut which in turn increases sensitivities and gut inflammation. I commonly see this issue in my clinical practice that underlies major skin problems and there are at-home testing options that yield a ton of information!

Just so you know — these issues typically require more than just diet alone in order to resolve them.

Healthy vegetables for diet

Keratosis Pilaris Diet & Supplement Tips

As for your diet, the easiest and most obvious answer is to increase Vitamin A-rich foods. Those include liver and cod liver oil, both of which give you way more than your daily value of active vitamin A.

After that, we've got some foods that offer a much lower amount but could still be really helpful such as king mackerel, salmon, Bluefin tuna, goat cheese, and butter.

If you are grossed out about eating liver, you can try other preparations like paté and liverwurst. Some of my friends like Mickey Trescott have helpful recipes to hide liver in dishes like Meatloaf so you don't even notice the flavor.

As far as supplementation is concerned, a Vitamin A liquid formula is my preferred choice. The reason that I prefer a liquid over capsules is because you can much better control how much of it that you take.

I'm not a big fan of desiccated liver pills simply because you don't know how much Vitamin A is in them.

And if you've got digestive issues, it would be better while working on Keratosis Pilaris treatment to focus on getting an amount that you can really control. That's why I prefer the liquid vitamin A drops over the liver pills as well as the larger dosages oftentimes found in capsules such as 10,000 IUs.

Fish oil capsules and raw fish

Other helpful supplements include:

I cannot finish this without circling back for a moment to talk about your gallbladder!

As you already know, your gallbladder is a crucial piece to the whole entire digestion and absorption process of your body. If you don't have a gallbladder anymore, ideally you need some sort of fat digestion support aid for life.

Generally, you take digestive aides about 5 to 10 minutes before eating a meal (not a snack) as well as all of the supplements that contain fat-soluble nutrients. A routine digestive enzyme is probably not going to be sufficient.

The key ingredients to look for in a digestive aid that helps you break down fat must include ox bile as well as lipase! (THIS IS A GOOD OPTION!)

Ox bile is derived from ox. There are no vegetarian or vegan sources because bile is not a requirement for plants to break fat down.

The only caveat is if you have developed the Alpha-Gal allergy where you cannot consume anything from mammals. In this particular instance, you would not be able to take this type of supplement because of the ox bile. A good fat enzyme formula will help as well as working on all the other facets of your gut to make sure that you optimize fat absorption.

With all that said, the lesson here is that you aren't what you eat. You are what you absorb! 

So if you can't absorb fats, then you can end up with symptoms like Keratosis Pilaris.

Can Kids Get Keratosis Pilaris?

Yes, babies and kids get keratosis pilaris! It's actually considered to be more common in young children.

The general principles outlined here in this article still apply, however I'd recommend that you seek help with a professional who works with children to get an idea of what's going on.

Supplementation for babies differs from that for kids of different age groups as well as from adults.

So it's best to speak with your medical provider or practitioner with experience with kids about the best way to proceed forward.

If you've got any questions or thoughts about KP, leave a comment below so we can continue the conversation!

And don't forget one of the most important steps — share this episode with someone you know who has Keratosis Pilaris and is frustrated that they can't get it to go away!

Hopefully, this episode will provide answers to them that they might not be getting from their dermatologist or their family doctor.

Thank you so much for tuning in and I will see you in the next episode!

If you have struggled with Keratosis Pilaris, know this -- you don't have a skin problem. You have a gut problem. KP is a symptom of something else directing you to investigate. And that something else happens to be low or deficient Vitamin A status.