NHS skin expert explains how to combat strawberry legs (aka Keratosis Pilaris)

The sun is here (occasionally), which for lots of us means ditching the long midi dresses and trousers of winter to embrace shorter hemlines – and swimwear if you’re jetting off somewhere warm this summer.

For some people though, getting into shorts and mini dresses can be at best annoying and at worst anxiety-inducing, thanks to a skin condition often referred to as chicken skin or strawberry legs.

Keratosis Pilaris
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Clinically known as Keratosis Pilaris (or KP), it is those small red or dark bumps you sometimes see on the skin, most commonly on the legs – hence its aforementioned nicknames, as the skin can appeared dimpled like the surface of a strawberry or chicken skin. For some women, it can be enough to make them feel as though they should cover up their legs, so embarrassed are they of the appearance of their skin.

Of course, no woman should feel any shame or embarrassment around their body, but we all know that’s easier said than done with the appearance-obsessed culture we live in.

So we spoke to skin expert and aesthetic practitioner Dr Raj Arora of The Face Bible, to get her expert advice on how to minimise the appearance of strawberry legs.

Dr Raj Arora

What is chicken skin, or strawberry legs?

Keratosis Pilaris is a genetic condition that often affects females, but it can affect people of any age, race or sex. Tiny red bumps visible on the skin’s surface that resemble goosebumps are actually caused by plugs of dead skin cells.

What causes it?

It occurs when the body produces excess keratin on the hair follicles causing them to become clogged and leaving a ‘strawberry skin’ appearance.

What’s the most effective way to get rid of it?

I usually recommend gentle cleansing as excessive dryness can further aggravate the condition. Gentle and regular physical exfoliation can also be helpful – I tend to recommend a silicone-based cleansing device – like the LUNA by Foreo or a physical exfoliating mitt with gentle pressure. Aside from this, chemical exfoliation using gentle acids does tend to yield the best results.

Keratosis Pilaris
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What products do you recommend to your patients?

Chemical exfoliation using gentle acids gets the best results. To my patients at The Face Bible clinic suffering from Keratosis Pilaris, I prescribe OBAGI keraphine body smoothing lotion. It contains glycolic acid which helps to gently remove dead skin cells from the skin’s surface.

I tend to also recommend laser hair removal as there is often a curled hair sitting within the skin bump. We have the Soprano Titanium ICE in clinic which works on most skin and hair types.

Can you ever be rid of KP for good? Or is it something to manage?

In some cases, it can be addressed so that it is no longer noticeable. Generally though, it can be quite resistant to treatment and difficult to manage on your own. I would recommend carrying out treatment under the care of a skin doctor for best results for your specific skin type.

For an at-home solution, try one of our recommendations:

cerave sa smoothing cleanser
Boots

CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser, £12.50, Boots

ameliorate body lotion
Lookfantastic

AMELIORATE Transforming Body Lotion, £11.25, Lookfantastic

first aid beauty KP body lotion
Lookfantastic

First Aid Beauty KP Smoothing Body Lotion, £22, Lookfantastic