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The Role Of Diet In Minimizing Keratosis Pilaris

Individuals with keratosis pilaris experience the buildup of keratin, a protective skin protein, which leads to the formation of plugs in hair follicles. Because the hairs cannot push through this blockage to the skin's surface, raised bumps are created in fine-hair areas of the body, such as the upper arms, the thighs, and sometimes the buttocks or even the face.

Although keratosis pilaris is not medically serious and can improve over time, some patients use treatments such as topical prescription creams and clinical-strength moisturizers. Additionally, some alternative-health consultants believe that skin problems indicate an "internal imbalance," and therefore feel that they should be treated by dietary changes. No associations between diet and keratosis pilaris have been validated by clinical research, however.

Several patients with keratosis pilaris maintain that eliminating cow-based dairy products from their diet significantly reduced their symptoms. Bovine casein, the primary protein in cow's milk, is sometimes cited as a contributing factor to keratosis pilaris, as some people have experienced improved symptoms after eliminating it from their diet once they reached adulthood.

Vitamin A deficiency may also resemble keratosis pilaris, but no vitamin deficiency is known to cause keratosis pilaris. Some children who may seem to have keratosis pilaris are actually suffering from dietary deficiencies such as poor fat consumption. Children who obtain their dietary fats from processed food instead of from nuts, olive oil, and fish can develop "chicken skin" that resembles the symptoms of keratosis pilaris; these bumpy patches of skin, however, are actually unrelated to keratosis pilaris. In these cases, taking fish-oil capsules and including nuts, olive oil, and fish in the patient's diet will cause the rash to clear, indicating that the patient did not actually suffer from keratosis pilaris.

Because keratosis pilaris is a chronic and recurrent problem, patients should beware any claims that a certain diet can "cure" keratosis pilaris. If you suffer from keratosis pilaris and are concerned about your diet, speak to your doctor or dermatologist. He or she will be able to suggest at-home remedies and can also recommend a registered dietician to help you plan and implement healthy eating habits.


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