A woman with smooth legs without any keratosis pilaris bumps

The Simplest Way to Stop Strawberry Skin (aka Keratosis Pilaris)

The easiest way to treat these dry, rough and bumpy patches — without having to take a trip to the dermatologist's office.


2 minute read

Small, rough bumps have popped up on the surface of your skin. They’re bumpy, almost like acne, but dry (maybe even itchy) like eczema. Don’t panic! Chances are, you’ve got a very common skin condition called keratosis pilaris — also known as strawberry skin or chicken skin.

Here, Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper) explains what’s going on, and the easiest way to treat it yourself.

A closeup of keratin bumps from keratosis pilaris

What is keratosis pilaris (aka strawberry skin)?

First of all, if you’ve got KP, know that it is not contagious, not life threatening, and super common. In fact, it’s estimated that more than half of all Americans will experience strawberry skin at some point.

Technically speaking, the bumps that characterize keratosis pilaris are made of keratin protein. That’s the tough substance that makes up your hair, skin and nails. With strawberry skin, an excess of keratin builds up and creates a tiny plug at the pore opening.

While researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes KP, there may be a genetic component. People with dry skin seem to be more susceptible, and studies suggest that young kids and teens are more prone — but adults can experience keratosis pilaris as well.

Learn more about Dr. Lee's perspective on KP here.

How do you treat keratosis pilaris?

In order to smooth out those dry, rough patches, you’ll need to break up the keratin clogging your pores. Here’s what a clogged KP pore looks like.

A graphic illustration of what a keratin clogged pore looks like aka keratosis pilaris

The best way to take action? Exfoliating and moisturizing, says Dr. Lee. Exfoliating clears away both excess keratin and dead cells that have gathered on the skin’s surface. Psst: Not only will exfoliating treat strawberry skin, it also helps prevent dullness, dryness, and clogged pores. Following that up with regular moisturizing helps soften and soothe dry patches, and protects the skin barrier.

Dr. Pimple Popper’s picks for treating strawberry skin

Glycolic acid

This alpha hydroxy acid is Dr. Lee’s go-to for keratosis pilaris for a couple of reasons. First off, its small molecular size allows glycolic acid to penetrate more deeply into the skin. Secondly, besides exfoliating, glycolic acid stimulates your skin’s natural hydration process — making it ideal for balancing dry skin.

Try: SLMD Glycolic Acid Body Scrub and Glycolic Acid Body Lotion — available together as the Body Smoothing System.

Lactic Acid

This is another AHA that is great at gently exfoliating and improving skin texture. Lactic acid supports a healthy skin barrier and boosts both collagen and ceramide production, making another good multitasking choice for managing strawberry skin.

Hyaluronic acid

Naturally made by the human body, hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant, meaning it draws in and holds onto water within the skin. This helps soothe and alleviate the dry patches associated with keratosis pilaris.


This B vitamin helps repair the skin barrier by boosting ceramide production. It’s also a potent anti-inflammatory, which makes it a good choice for alleviating the redness and irritation associated with strawberry skin.


Dr Sandra Lee

Dr. Lee's Last Word

Keratosis pilaris is extremely common — and thankfully, it’s typically very easy to manage at home. I recommend my Body Smoothing System, which exfoliates, moisturizes and soothes those dry, rough patches in two simple steps.


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