Keratosis pilaris, also known as KP or chicken skin, is a genetic condition that causes bumpy, roughly textured skin on areas like your arms, legs, thighs, and butt. It's very common, but somewhat difficult to treat, and usually gets worse in the winter, when your skin is more prone to becoming dry. One way to deal with keratosis pilaris at home is by swapping out your usual shower gel for something more targeted. To be precise, the best body washes for keratosis pilaris are typically mild exfoliating cleansers that don't contain overly harsh ingredients, like strong peeling agents or benzoyl peroxide. As board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jennifer L. MacGregor tells Bustle, treating KP is tough because, “We want to thin out the dead cells at the surface (keratin layer) and smooth the bumps, but it’s also a dry skin condition, so we also need to hydrate, calm and restore the skin barrier function.” In particular, she says urea is a "magic" ingredient for KP, since it's both an exfoliant and a skin hydrator.
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ted Lain, M.D., also advises his clients to exfoliate, but he prefers an exfoliating lotion as a first line treatment for KP. “Lotions tend to be more gentle, giving an exfoliation that occurs over days to weeks.” However, he says if you do prefer to exfoliate with a body wash, pick a gentle formula that contains salicylic acid (a beta-hydroxy acid), or an alpha-hydroxy acid.
Both doctors advise not to scrub with your skin rough pastes or loofahs. And finally, since many patients with KP are prone to sensitive skin and/or eczema, sticking with a gentle, fragrance-free body wash is always a safe bet. (If, however, you don’t have particularly sensitive skin, Dr. Lain says choosing a body wash is mostly a matter of personal preference.)