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The Best Body Washes For Keratosis Pilaris, According To Dermatologists

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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. To find out more, Elite Daily spoke with two top dermatologists, Dr. Jennifer MacGregor and Dr. Ted Lain. Keep reading to hear what they had to say.

The Experts

Dr. Jennifer MacGregor is a board-certified dermatologist practicing at Union Derm in New York City. A graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center, she specializes in laser procedures, dermatologic surgery, and injectables, and also serves as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Ted Lain is a board-certified dermatologist practicing at Sanova Dermatology in Texas. A graduate of the University of Texas and Baylor College of Medicine, he specializes in laser procedures, cosmetic injectables, and countless other medical and cosmetic treatments related to the hair, skin, and nails.

What To Look For In A Body Wash For KP

As Dr. 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.

Dr. Lain 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.)

Scroll on to shop five of the best keratosis pilaris treatments that you can use in the shower, including a few picks from our experts.

Shop The Best Body Washes For KP

In a hurry? Here are the best body washes for keratosis pilaris:

  1. Derm’s Pick: CeraVe Cleanser for Psoriasis Treatment
  2. Derm’s Pick: Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash
  3. Editor’s Pick: CeraVe Body Wash with Salicylic Acid
  4. Best For Sensitive Skin: Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash
  5. Best Under $10: Aveeno Skin Relief Fragrance-Free Body Wash
1. Dr. MacGregor's Pick: Best Body Wash For KP

Dr. MacGregor says this fragrance-free CeraVe cleanser is great for KP because it contains urea, the "magic" exfoliant that's also a skin hydrator; salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid known for its pore-unclogging properties; ceramides to strengthen and restore the skin's natural protective barrier; and niacinamide, an anti-inflammatory with skin-calming properties. As a whole, the formula can help relieve the itching and dryness associated with conditions like KP, psoriasis, and generally dry skin. And you can use this safely anywhere on your body, including on your hairline and face.

Relevant review: “I’ve had KP my whole life (I’m 37), and I’ve always been super self conscious about it. I’ve tried many things In the past and I feel like they [work] for a day, then stop working. But this product has had great results in just the 2 days I’ve used it! I’m blown away! I used this cleanser then right after I towel dry I use the coordinating lotion. Even after 30+ hours of the first use my skin still felt incredibly soft. Now on day 2 with the same routine and it’s even better! So excited for this product!!”

2. Dr. Lain's Pick: Best Body Wash For KP

Dr. Lain likes this classic Neutrogena Body Clear body wash; "It does not overdo the exfoliation," he says. Formulated to help treat body acne, it uses 2% salicylic acid to exfoliate skin, while ingredients like glycerin and aloe juice help counteract the drying effects of the SA. Plus, since this is sold in a three-pack, you'll be stocked for ages.

Relevant review: “I have a form of eczema called keratosis pilaris and this really helps. I also have sensitive skin but I haven't had any problems with it.”

3. Editor's Pick: Best Body Wash For KP

Elite Daily beauty editor Adeline Duff swears by CeraVe's SA line for keeping her KP under control. Both the body lotion and the body wash are great — since they're enriched with skin-strengthening ceramides (in addition to exfoliating salicylic acid), they won't exacerbate skin dryness or do damage to your acid mantle over time. Plus, the fragrance-free formula is truly scentless, unlike so many other products that only claim to be.

Relevant review: “I’ve been using this for over a year now and it is the only thing that has completely cured my skin of KP and body acne. You have to be consistent with and and use it continuously for about a month to see results but it is amazing. Holy grail product… I’m buying several at a time now bc there was a covid shortage of these a year ago and that sucked!”

4. Best For Sensitive Skin

If you have very sensitive skin, and don't feel comfortable using an exfoliating body wash, go with a super basic body wash, like this one from Cetaphil. Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, this creamy cleanser will leave your skin feeling moisturized and soft, instead of tight and dry.

Note that this is another product that's sold in a three-pack, so you can have a bottle for every bathroom in the house.

Relevant review: “I have very [sensitive] skin and this body wash really did the trick. It is very gentle on my skin, doesn’t leave any residue and my skin feels softer than other body washes I have used in the past. [...]”

5. Best Under $10

If you're not looking to spend $15+ on a value pack, pick up this single bottle from Aveeno. Another excellent, mild choice for people with sensitive skin, it helps relieve dryness, irritation, and itching using Aveeno's signature ingredient, oats. For less than $6, you get a massive, 33-ounce bottle, so it's an incredible value.

Relevant review: “I have a skin condition called keratosis pilaris, very dry and bumpy skin. I've tried numerous products. This works the best. It's not a cure all but it has been the one non-prescription product that has given me the most relief from the dryness and itching. I also use the body moisturizing lotion.”

Also Consider: These Body Lotions For KP

The Best Body Lotion For Keratosis Pilaris

Dr. Lain is a big fan of this Glytone Body Lotion, which he says is a great exfoliant with a high concentration of glycolic acid to smooth skin and reduce the appearance of bumps. He also likes the brand's body wash, too, if you've got a bit more room in your budget.

Relevant review: “I've had KP my whole life and this is by far the best product at smoothing out the bumps on the back of my arms.”

A More Affordable Alternative

“This is my favorite Cerave product for dry and stressed health care hands, ragged cuticles, dry feet and limbs ... and also for KP,” says Dr. MacGregor. “Ceramides and urea in a gentle, hydrating cream that also happens to soften bumps.” And with its reasonable price tag, what more could you want?

Relevant review: “Works great and really does make my dry skin go away. Now I am not a diabetic, my dermatologist actually recommended this to me because I get small bumps on my arms. It’s taken them away and left my arms smooth.”

Experts:

Dr. Jennifer L. MacGregor, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology.

Dr. Ted Lain, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer at Sanova Dermatology.

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