Keratosis Pilaris: How I Handled It

how to treat keratosis pilaris

*This post about keratosis pilaris has been revised and updated and is written for informational purposes only. It should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never begin a supplementation protocol without the guidance of your doctor.

Have you ever had…chicken skin?

And when I say “chicken skin,” I DON’T mean the (delicious) kind that actually comes from a chicken.

I mean: have you ever had parts of your skin – for me, it was the backs of my arms – start to look like  “chicken skin?”

Reddish, sometimes rough, with a bunch of zit-like (but not quite) bumps?

Word on the internet is that this is called keratosis pilaris (KP, from here on). It’s believed to be harmless, yes, but it’s – well – annoying!

Keratosis Pilaris: How I Handled It

Is Keratosis Pilaris Bad?

Here’s what we know: KP is caused by dysfunctional keratinization at the hair follicle, meaning that skin cells are either multiplying faster than they’re shedding, or they’re not shedding properly at all. This causes skin cells to build up and stick together over the hair follicle, which then clogs up – much like what happens when you get a zit.

This results in changes to the texture and appearance of the skin.

Remember that old computer game, Lemmings? When they all clumped up at the edge of a cliff and then, one at a time, fell off? Kinda like that.

(Why do I always have to throw in some obscure, dated reference to who knows what? I don’t know.)

At one point, the best advice I could find for KP was: to exfoliate more – usually with something like apricot scrub (remember that?) or a stiff, scratchy loofah. And I definitely couldn’t find any information that helped me get to the root of the issue, ie: why was my skin behaving badly in the first place?

I want to correct both of those issues and talk through what you can do externally and internally if KP is frustrating you. I’ll start with some better, less ouchy skincare advice. Then, I’ll talk through my approaches for addressing the root issues at play with KP.

From the outside: improving skin’s texture and appearance

I cringe when I think about what I put my skin through for years: harsh scrubs that were LITERALLY MADE OF CRUSHED NUTSHELLS, picking, squeezing, and rubbing to try to battle it into submission.

Now we know that harsh exfoliation with scrubs or tools can actually make skin irritation worse! And it will never help with KP. The harder you scrub, the more your skin responds by generating more skin cells, making KP worse.

For topical treatment, a much better approach is using a chemical exfoliating formula.

I know, I know – don’t we want to reduce our use of chemicals? Sure, for some things! Just remember: even water is a chemical. Chemicals aren’t always bad! It’s whether what you’re using has a strong safety profile that matters.

Chemical exfoliating formulas are made of skincare acids. In mild, over-the-counter formulations, the safety of these acids is well-established.

Single acids, or combinations of acids in low concentrations, are gentle enough that they won’t irritate the skin. But strong enough to loosen up “sticky” skin cells and dramatically improve the appearance of KP.

Look for products with alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) like lactic acid, which is a gentle surface-level exfoliator, or glycolic acid. This also helps un-stick cells; or salicylic acid, which is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA). And is the only skincare acid that gets deeper into the pores to clear out the blockage. Combination AHA/BHA products are great too, since they can do a little of everything. Just remember that the more acids you use at once, the more likely you’ll experience some irritation. So start slow and spot test.

Because I’m a Beautycounter consultant, I now use the Beautycounter Body Peel. They contain a blend of AHAs, including mandelic acid. (Love!)

See more Beauty posts.

From the Inside: tackling the Root of the Problem

Skincare products aside, many specialists say that KP is something most people “grow out of”. But I’ve come to believe that, for many, correcting nutritional and digestive imbalances can help!

Luckily, my KP was one of the first things that improved when I put myself on a comprehensive plan to improve my nutrition and digestion. I’d love to share some details with you!

Here’s my KP checklist.

1) Check in on vitamin A.

Vitamin A plays a major role in keratinization (and in skin health in general). Whenever my KP comes a-creepin’, I check in on my vitamin A status. Am I eating enough vitamin A-rich foods? Am I supporting vitamin A in doing its job by eating complementary nutrients?

Note that when I say vitamin A, I don’t mean beta-carotene. Beta carotene is the “plant version” of vitamin A – more accurately, it’s a vitamin A precursor – but, thanks to the FDA allowing beta-carotene to be labeled as vitamin A, the myth that they’re the same persists.

Here’s the bummer: while most people can convert beta carotene to actual vitamin A just fine, that’s not true for everyone. In fact, many folks – including me – have genetic polymorphisms (“mini mutations,” in marginally accurate layman’s terms) that limit their bodies’ ability to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A. For this reason, and because my KP improved when I boosted my vitamin A intake, I know that I need real, straight-up vitamin A from my diet.

So where do I get true vitamin A?

*Gulp.* Animal products! Animals are very efficient at converting beta-carotene from the plants they eat into vitamin A, and they pass that nutrition along to us.

Egg yolks, full-fat dairy products, seafood, cod liver oil, and liver (double gulp) all contain vitamin A; with the latter two having the highest levels overall.

I found that, in the beginning, a larger “dose” of vitamin A from cod liver oil was just the ticket. I took a half teaspoon a few days each week for a month, then reduced my intake to once every few weeks until the bottle was gone. (Note: I’ve found that if cod liver oil is going to help, you’ll know by the end of the first bottle.) Now, I take it whenever I feel I need an extra boost. I recommend the Rosita brand.

From there, smaller amounts of egg yolks and high-quality, full-fat dairy seem to do the trick.

2) Check in on the balance between vitamins A, D, and K2.

In addition to vitamin A, I also consider vitamins D and K2, which, according to fascinating research, work with vitamin A in the body.

I like Cod Liver Oil because it’s an easy source of vitamins A and D – especially when we’re in our “Vitamin D Winter” and I can’t get adequate vitamin D from sunshine. Salmon and sardines also provide a food source of vitamin D.

You can find vitamin K2 in small amounts in ghee, which is a concentrated dairy oil; in superfoods like emu oil, according to this company; and in supplements.

3) Check in on your digestion. 

If you’re getting plenty of good nutrition but are still frustrated with your skin, it might be worth asking: how’s my digestion?

Even the best nutrition can’t do its job if it can’t get where it needs to go.

There’s so much to cover when it comes to digestion – too much for this post, in fact – but consider this to start: our modern lives, modern food, and modern stress can have a profound impact on digestion, from top to bottom (literally).

Nutrients must be properly released from the food matrix to do their jobs. This involves everything from the mouth (chewing) to stomach acid to gall bladder function to intestinal health. There are so many steps in the digestive process, and if even one is out of whack, it can cause you frustration.

Taking supplements can help bypass these issues sometimes, but it won’t do the trick forever. Plus, fortifying your digestion has rewards much greater than just improved skin. It’s worth a look! Working with a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner or Restorative Wellness Practitioner is a wonderful start.

4) Be patient!

Finally, give these strategies time to work! Your skin can become less irritated very quickly, which feels like a big change, but from there, you need several weeks to really see a difference.

And don’t forget to clear any new approach with your trusted healthcare provider! No one approach works for everyone, and it often helps to get the insight of someone who knows your health history personally.

Keratosis Pilaris Diet

Managing keratosis pilaris symptoms can be challenging, but there are treatments that can help. One effective approach is to exfoliate regularly to remove dead skin cells. In New York City and other large cities, I have even heard of board-certified dermatologists providing additional keratosis pilaris treatments, such as topical creams or laser therapy.

However, probably the most effective treatment is eating a healthy diet. Focus on anti-inflammatory foods and foods that are high in vitamin A and E for the skin. Also be sure to include plenty of dark leafy greens and citrus. If you’re struggling with keratosis pilaris symptoms, it’s important to consult with a dermatologist to determine the best course of treatment and diet for your individual needs.

Keratosis Pilaris And Gluten

If you’re dealing with keratosis pilaris, avoiding gluten may be worth considering. Wheat, barley, and rye also contain a protein called gluten. It may cause inflammation, exacerbating dry skin, and the appearance of keratosis pilaris bumps on the upper arms and thighs. In addition to avoiding gluten, using an oil-free cream and staying well-moisturized as part of a regular skincare routine can also help treat keratosis pilaris. Remember, keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition that affects many people, and there are various ways to manage symptoms and improve skin health.

Good luck – and thanks for reading!

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78 Responses

  1. I have had KP all of my life, it has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I’m 45. My diet is clean and I have tried for years the things you recommend. The only thing that works for me is MSM. I take 9,0000g daily and I have no new spots. I have tested it over and over again (with travel, etc.).

    1. Great comment! MSM is not only a sulfur compound (as I stated above, sulfur is CRITICAL and part of the reason I like sun exposure for vitamin D sulfate) but it also actually helps the cells become more receptive to the nutrition they’re given! It’s possible MSM is helping all that good nutrition get where it needs to go. I’ve recommended Dr. Ron’s MSM to a few folks as well as the MSM drops for topical use. An added point to this post could definitely be more on nutrient co-factors like MSM. Thanks for the comment Danielle!

      1. Can I use MSM on a 6 year old? We started about 1 month ago with FCLO and butter oils and are about to go gluten free. She only drinks raw milk.

        1. Hi Tara! I cannot advise for or against with regards to your little one, as I only specialize in adult skincare – but I wouldn’t be surprised if whatever you’re looking to improve does improve drastically after you’ve gone gluten/grain free. 🙂

        2. I would advise asking an actual medical professional- especially a pediatrician, dermatologist, or pediatric dermatologist.
          Little FYI on gluten. Multiple empirical studies have shown that the MAJORITY of people ARE NOT gluten intolerant.

          1. I was told by my dermatologist (an MD) that newer studies have shown that keratosis is reduced with a gluten free diet. She also mentioned that studies also show that over weight people that lose weight also find that there keratosis gets better.

          2. This is probably related to nutrient absorption issues in several complex ways. Overweight people are often deficient in vitamin A, or have an increased requirement for it.

      2. Sadly, I live in WA state, and can only get “natural vitamin D” only 3 months out of the year. I felt crappy for YEARS until I supplemented. Surprisingly, when I had blood work done for fatigue/general malaise, my D came back fine – perhaps I need more than the average human (also taking into account that the minimums are set at that point to avoid deficiency diseases, not promote optimal health).
        If I’m forced to supplement, which one do you recommend?
        I also have KP, have done most (if not all) of these things, and have seen little difference. It is on both my legs and arms, has spread over the years – I’ve had it since I was a teenager in Florida (and trust me, there I got plenty of sun!)

  2. I have had KP for as long as I can remember. I only recently found out I have celiac disease and have multiple deficiencies. I have been gluten free/paleo for a year and half. Minor improvement in my D levels due to supplementation but still very low. I take FCLO but it hasn’t made a dent in these issues. Any suggestions for people who are still not absorbing vitamins in whole healthy foods?

      1. Thanks! I will. In the end the condition of my skin on my arms isn’t my major concern. I am just using it as an indicator of what is going on internally. I already feel much better than I did before. You are right. I will try to be patient 🙂

    1. Cod Liver oil can be helpful, but it can’t fix problems with diet, digestion, or habitual topical irritation. Resolving acne requires a multi-pronged approach in my opinion. You might like my Skintervention Guide – it’s an investment but a fabulous framework for understanding why there are no quick solitary fixes, and how nutrition, digestion and skin care interact. (If I may toot my own horn 🙂

  3. thanks for this article, very informative. I have “chicken skin” right underneathe my eyes. I started paleo about a year ago, i know it’s a long journey but i’m grateful that i did start 🙂 I also switched to only organic produce and country meat (I’m Inuk heritage, and i like to eat all the organs of our catch over here) and i’ve noticed a big difference in my body, more energy, not to mention i lost about 20 lbs in my first month after switching to only organic produce. My naturopath said that it was due to inflammation.

  4. I had KP for years and tried things like glycolic acid, but nothing worked. i started supplementing with fermented cod oil like a year ago for general health reasons…Meanwhile i had given up on KP and forgot about it, but a few months ago i was reading about the vitamin A connection, so i checked my arms to see if i’ve had any improvements and wow, i was shocked tthat my KP was all gone. I look at my arms every couple wks or so now and stare at them all amazed. It makes me wonder what else that Cod Oil / vitamin A is doing for me. 🙂

      1. Hi Marissa! I take the recommended serving on the bottle of Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil blend (cinnamon tingle flavor) from

    1. Hi Elizabeth
      Did you change your diet as well. After reading your comment I was inspired and am now taking FCLO but I have read other posts and they were saying to fully eliminate grains and be strict pales if you want to remove kp. I can’t do this as I live on bread and rice but will I still be able to remove kp with FCLO?

      1. You’ll only know if you try. But KP can be a sign of a gluten intolerance, so it would probably be better for you to find an alternative to grains and rice. They might be what’s causing your problem.

  5. Fantastic article! I’m taking FCLO per your recommendation and my KP is nearly gone and I haven’t even gone through a whole bottle. This is the only change I’ve made!!
    Along a similar note, I am very curious to know your thoughts on lanula health (moons/slivers on nails). Other than my thumbs and pointers, I don’t have visible moons despite being paleo. I see unhealthy people with robust moons. I can’t find a correlation and can’t find an answer online. I would love your take!! Thanks for all you do!

  6. Thank you for this very informative post. I have been paleo for more than a year and while I saw improvement in my kp at first, it isn’t completely gone. I have resisted taking the fclo that my hubs keeps in our fridg due to the taste. But I see you linked to a capsule, so I have decided to buy that and give it a try.
    I am wondering if there is some sort of blood test one can take to see what vitamin and nutrient levels are in the body? If so, What sort of practitioner should I look for to do this? I pretty much avoid doctors like the plague…so hopefully that isn’t the answer. And I have yet to find a nutritionist, other than bloggers online, that I trust.
    If one cannot/does not get tested, then is it basically trial and error to figure this out? It feels quite overwhelming to take this approach.
    Thank you!

  7. Hello Liz- I do not have KP, but do have a question. I have previously taken the FCLO/Butter Oil Blend capsules-but because my husband and I both take it and I was told to get the same dosage as a 1/2 tsp of the liquid we would need to each take 6 capsules a day, which was quite expensive, so we switched to the liquid FCLO and have not been taking the liquid butter oil. What is your opinion regarding the addition of the butter oil? We do take 100mg of K2, but just wondering what your thoughts are on just the FCLO. Thanks Much!

  8. I have had kp all my life and have been paleo for 6 months and after recently being diagnosed with autoimmune disease I have been AI paleo for just over a month. My kp has nearly all gone and for the first time in my life I have smooth (ish) upper arms! I wasn’t sure what had caused it to go but after reading your article now I know, as I am taking cod liver oil, vit D and a whole host of other vitamins my Dr has prescribed me. Great article!!!

  9. Hi Liz – great stuff. I also have KP and have psoriasis in my ears. I’m currently using a steroid oil for the psoriasis – however, after reading the fine print – it is clear that it shouldn’t be used while pregnant or nursing. I have some time before that becomes a reality for me – but I’m wondering how relevant your above suggestions & book are to psoriasis. Thanks – Whitney

  10. Thank you again, Liz! Great post. I learned about this thru your Skintervention Guide. After only a week or slightly more of taking the cod liver oil/butter blend you had recommended, my KP on the back of my arms vanished as well. It was absolutely amazing to me as I, too, had tried multiple over the counter “supposed” remedies. Thank you once again for the information!!

  11. After switching to goat milk soap (lactic acid dissolves keratin) and stop using sunscreen; my KP pretty much went away. Though I still one or two spots that come back. I’ll try the FCLO. Thanks for the info Liz!

  12. I’ve been having wheat again, and the chicken skin is back on my arms. Along with achy joints and mild psoriasis. I also need to stay well away from Nightshades and sugar as well as gluten to have smooth arms and no thick cracking skin on my elbows. I couldn’t believe how smooth they were for a few months.. Time to get my health back on track and knock thoses contaminants out of my diet again. Social discomfort versus my own health, I’m putting me first again. (Doesn’t it piss people off?)

    1. Thanks for this comment, Julia. This inspires me to try removing nightshades. I am gluten/grain free but have never tried the nightshades.

  13. Unfortunately, I don’t digest meat very well, much less cow’s liver which used to be my favorite dish (with onions). I do eat a lot of eggs, and do depend on Vitamin A supplements. Any suggestions for a vegetarian/eggs/fish diet? Your posts are FABULOUS!!

  14. Don’t do a glycolic peel. Get a low strength glycolic (5%) or salicylic (1-2%) leave on treatment (with the correct pH, ~3) like a gel or lotion, and use it consistently. That’s not for “extreme” cases, that’s just a practical and effective way to deal with keratosis pilaris. As much as I love your posts on nutrition, and you are well-intentioned, but your skin care posts will do more harm than good when helping people deal with real skin conditions.

    1. Joshua, I just have to disagree with on this – while I agree that a low strength glycolic treatment would also be great, I simply haven’t found one (and there are several I’ve looked at) without ingredients that might cause problems with the people I work with. The “cleanest” glycolic gel I’ve found that I evaluated as potentially helpful for this post still contains several questionable ingredients to which my clients tend to react, so I chose not to recommend it. I have reached out to several manufacturers about producing a low-concentration glycolic treatment with the proper ingredients and have not been successful so far. Skin Obsessions pays proper attention to pH, which is why I (cautiously) recommend their products. If you know any that are effective and free from problem ingredients, feel free to share. As someone who has recovered from several “real skin conditions” myself over my years of research (lifelong eczema, acne, and KP) I respectfully disagree with your well-intentioned comment.

  15. Hi Liz,
    My 7-year old daughter has always had a lot ov this, not just on her arms but also on the sides of her face and her skin hasn’t been very soft and smooth full stop. When we due to digestive issues tried replacing cows milk with goats milk, we’ve now seen a 95% improvement! We’ve now stopped using anything but butter from cows and seeing the same effect in our 5-year old son. Just thought I’d share! 🙂
    While i think about it, may I please ask, how good is full fat goats milk as a source of vitamin K2 etc in comparison to cows milk?
    Many thanks for sharing your valuable knowledge!
    Love, Angel, UK

    1. That’s fantastic, Angel! Thanks for sharing! Unfortunately I don’t know of any comparisons of goat’s milk to cow’s milk as far as vitamin K2; from what I know of what goats eat, however, I’m fairly certain it would be lower in K2. You might still do OK supplementing with butter oil from Green Pastures – none of the irritating proteins of cow’s milk would remain.

  16. My KP always goes dormant in the summer…must be the vitamin D! I find that it is also less noticeable in the winter months if I moisturize with coconut oil every day. And eating clean is a given!

  17. Is it possible to get too much vitamin A? Cause I found that sometimes Vitamin A, fish oils rived helps, but then all of a sudden my KP got worse, and I haven’t gotten 15 minutes of sun in maybe two weeks…is that a long enough time to affect my Vitamin D? I take 8000 IU of Vitamin A with 50 mg of zinc a day. can magnesium affect kp?

    1. These questions are all highly individualized, Crystal – the answers can vary from person to person! An easy way to test is to spend a little time in the sun and see if anything improves. If that’s the case, then it was the vitamin D you needed :)One thing I will say – most vitamin A supplements (unless they’re cod liver oil) aren’t vitamin A at all, but beta-carotene; double check that too!

  18. Hi there, very interesting posts. I have KP for the last two years on my legs/upper arms. I also developed seborrheic dermatitis (with diffuse hair loss) on my scalp since last November. I have been on a yeast/sugar free diet since last november but only started reading that gluten could be a problem and have given it up the past two days. Do you think the gluten could be to blame? Im also taking vitamin D (not very much sun where I come from) and spirulina as a multivitamin supplement.

    1. If you have gluten intolerance, Shelley, it can manifest in almost any way you can imagine! It sounds like you’re on the right track. If I were on a yeast and sugar free diet, I’d be sure to be absolutely positive I was getting enough food to keep the metabolism thriving, because a lowered metabolism (which is a crappy consequence of many therapeutic diets, it’s kind of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario) can also drive frustrating symptoms. Best of luck!

    2. Just an FYI, as many empirical studies have shown, the majority of people are not gluten intolerant. It merely a fad that many pseudo health, wellness, and nutritional “experts” have played up.

  19. Hi! This awful disease totally changed my way of living. I quit foods with gluten, alcohol, junk food, increased water intake and healthy food, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, kefir for a 3 years so far… Now my KP is MUCH better, but still, sometimes appear (red cheeks and dots on my legs). Also, I noticed it appear when I eat big meal, or too hot/cold meal/drink. Is there any connection?
    P.S. Sorry for my English. 🙂
    Thanks Liz!

    1. Mark, sometimes a fragile system just flares up when challenged a bit (stress, extreme temperatures, etc)! I’d bet that over time this will get better. I know 3 years seems like a long time, but sometimes certain conditions take a lifetime to develop and thus much longer to resolve. But hooray for progress!

  20. Hello Liz. I just randomly found your website when researching KP and you seem like the most knowledgeable person on the internet when it comes to skin. That aside, I do have a question about using the Fermented Cod Liver Oil. I have read in different places that because Vit.A is fat soluble and not water soluble that there is a possibility for someone to “overdose” on Vit.A or develope Vit.A toxicity.
    Do you think this is anything that needs to be taken into consideration before purchasing FCLO? or is this something that is rarely likely to happen?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hey Liana! Thanks for the kind words! In short, no! I actually tackle this exact topic in my book Eat the Yolks and in my skincare guide – it’s a really common concern but unless you’re taking volumes of synthetic vitamin A (from unnatural sources) it’s simply not a concern. In real food, vitamin A comes balanced with the nutrients that protect against toxicity. In the cod liver oil/butter oil blend, vitamin D and vitamin K2 keep vitamin A safe – which is awesome, because vitamin A is SO critical. I hope that helps!

  21. “pre-formed vitamin A” is not necessarily the best for treatment of KP. For any who is interested in a thorough and empirically supported treatment of KP, I would suggest finding a well-qualified dermatologist. They will advise you on supplements as well as the topical treatments that you need.

  22. Hi Liz! I recently bought your skincare guide, and subsequently got green pastures capsules + beauty balm, and Fat Face Fat stick + body butter, Plus a host of recommendations for oil clensing and clay masks. I’m starting a whole30 on April and as such will also begin the skincare regime.
    I’m hoping these habits clear up the KP – which, coincidentally isn’t very bad for me int he winter but is terrible in the summer – my arms are always so red and bumpy in summer – any idea why this might be? I always feel so self conscious wearing a tank top.
    I hope you are enjoying your maternity leave!

  23. Hey Liz,
    Ever since hair started growing on my legs, I’ve had bumps and black dots on my leg that holds hair or excess skin in it. My dots never go away but they do become minimal if I exfoliate. After reading this article I want to buy the products but do you think they will work on me? Is it really an internal problem?

    1. This sounds more like an external exfoliation issue, just like you said, than a KP issue. I have had the same issue as you – larger pores get blocked as the hairs grow in, creating blackhead-like clogs on your legs. It’s not the same issue as KP although I can see why it sounds similar. This is part of the reason I exfoliate my legs regularly with dry brushing or a salt scrub (I have people use more caution when exfoliating their faces because the skin is more sensitive and delicate). In the summer I shave regularly – because it really does exfoliate as well as any scrub and I notice a decrease immediately.

  24. Hi Liz I know it is an old post but I found your site and I like your approach with KP. I started to take fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil Blend for 2 months now and I do not see any improvement. How long should it take? thanks

    1. Marie, I think 2 months is plenty to see whether the CLO/BO alone is enough. Sounds like it’s not. So you might look at your digestion, and make sure you don’t have any potentially irritating foods in your diet that are causing nutrient malabsorption! Gluten free is a must, and digestive healing can really help too. Another thing to add topically could be some borage oil.

    1. Since it’s more of a food than a standardized supplement, it’s impossible to tell without testing every single bottle, so that’s why it’s a bit of a guessing game! I’ve been find with a half-teaspoon, a few times each week. Once my skin has improved, I cut back to less because my body has gotten what it needs!

    1. I support everyone’s dietary choices, but since I personally feel that a diet based around properly-raised meats, fruits, veggies and healthy fats is probably optimal for most people, I really can’t advise as to vegan or vegetarian choices! Sorry about that. (This is what my book Eat the Yolks is about – I tackle a lot of myths surrounding nutrition.)

      1. Liz, I’m going to buy the cod liver pile and see if it would take my KP off my arms. I currently pregnant is it safe to take those pills?. Also I need some clarification on what gluten free means. I understand no whole wheat rice, pasta no grains such as beans, lentils ect? So what can carbs can I eat instead oatmeal, sweet potatoes, granola and ezequiel bread ? Thank you and sorry for bombarding you with questions.

        1. Hi Alejandra! Gluten free means no grains that contain the protein gluten. You can google “gluten free grains” to see what your options are. Then again, you can go completely GRAIN FREE and cut out even gluten-free grains. Make sense? Not all grains contain gluten. Rice, for example, does not contain gluten. However, cutting out all grains seems to help people heal. Your carbs could be from fruit, sweet potato (there are several different kinds of SP), potato, winter squash, lots of veggies fit the bill 🙂 It IS safe to take cod liver oil in pregnancy, but I would only take it twice a week, and it would be good to get a butter oil supplement as well to take at the same time. I have recently switch my recommendation for cod liver oil to Rosita, which can be ordered via It’s expensive, but worth it. You can also try the toner pads that I have recently added to this post for a topical approach that’s safe for pregnancy! Good luck!

    2. Look up other sources other than this website. There are PLENTY of ways to get the recommended amount of vitamin A from a plant based diet. When I stopped eating animal products my KP went away within a few weeks. I also included coconut oil and soft exfoliation (we often think rough exfoliation will help more but it DOES NOT it makes the skin even thicker) It’s important to research as much as possible. What works for some, may not work for others. More importantly remember that a NTP does not diagnose or treat diseases and it’s best to consult a dermatologist that shares and understands your reasoning for being a vegetarian or vegan. <3 best of luck!

      1. Libby, I hear you, but keep in mind that retinol is only available from animal sources. I’m nitpicking this point because I do think it’s important. Beta carotene and retinol serve different biological functions and one cannot sub for the other. Beta carotene, which is not true vitamin A but a vitamin A precursor, is available from plant sources and can be converted to retinol (which is responsible for cell proliferation and keratinization) but each individual has a different conversion capacity, which is why, for some people, adequate vitamin A (retinol) has to be obtained through an omnivorous diet. You’re right, different strokes for different folks and no one thing works for all people. It’s awesome that switching to a plant based diet resolved your KP!

  25. I’ve been paleo for years and taken cod liver oil for years as well as vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium for the absorbtion of these things. I take a probiotic, but the bumps the still remain. I notice when I eat canned salmon the bumps smooth out a bit more. Is it possible Im deficient in omega 3s, although I take Cod liver oil? Or could vitamin C and vitamin E also play a role. I don’t get those vitamins as much.

    1. It’s so hard to say! Could be the taurine, could be that you do better with the nutrients from whole food vs. CLO, could be the omegas, could be the astaxanthin…vitamin E is a pretty darn interesting vitamin, too, though not well-understood…vitamin c, maybe…it’s tough when the most obvious answers don’t get you anywhere! Sorry I can’t be more helpful, but it certainly can’t hurt to play around with nutrients from whole foods and self-experiment a bit.

      1. Could you explain further how taurine may play a role in this? I read an anecdotal account recently of someone who saw their bumps go away with taurine supplementation. If taurine works at thinning the bile leading to better fat digestion…it begs the question of what is causing “sludgy” bile in the first place… it can’t simply be a taurine deficiency?

        1. So interesting! Taurine is kind of a mystery substance to me right now – it’s well studied for its positive impact on cardiac health, but the suspicion is that it does a TON of amazing things that aren’t fully studied or understood yet. I don’t know if it has anything to do with regulating transport of nutrients in and out of the cells, its anti-inflammatory effect, or just the fact that it helps with fat digestion and thus assimilation of fat soluble nutrients. Taurine deficiency can be really dangerous to the heart, BUT I believe we have an ability to synthesize it endogenously…I just don’t know, but I also know of very few things that taurine-rich foods don’t seem to help in one person or another!

      2. Ok, thanks for the info! I have some good quality taurine that I never got in the habit of taking… I’ll start up again and see if I notice any improvement. Taurine is talked about quite a bit in the Ray Peat circles

  26. Keratosis pilaris is an entirely separate condition from phyrnoderma (vitamin A deficiency). I am a dermatologist and I think it is very misleading to tell people that KP is an internal condition because it is not.

    1. By my understanding, phyrnoderma is hyperkeratosis, not vitamin A deficiency (which is called hypovitaminosis A). Maybe you mean phyrnoderma is an entirely separate condition from hypovitaminosis A?
      How can the skin NOT be impacted by nutritional status when it is our nutritional status that provides raw material for keratinization?

  27. Thank you so much for this! I have had KP all my life without any explanation or hope for a fix. My old PCP once told me it’s no big deal and to not worry about it. A quick Google search basically says the same thing and that it goes away by age 30…well here I am at 30! I have just been diving back into paleo and have been catching up on the Balanced Bites podcasts and heard you and Diane talk about this and followed the show notes link. I panicked when I got to the part in Diane’s book that said she stopped recommending FCLO! What!?! I just ordered mine, for not cheap! So I’m glad to see this up to date article that FCLO is good for KP. I have noticed with 30 days of squeaky clean eating and MSM tablets it is not as bright. Anyways, my FCLO arrives today and I am excited to try it out! I also ordered a topical cream for Green Pastures to try out.

    1. We now recommend the EVCLO that’s linked in the post instead of Fermented CLO (FCLO)! So hopefully you ordered via the links in the post 🙂 if not, that’s ok. I had excellent results with FCLO, too. I just like the EVCLO better – taste-wise.
      Only 1 bottle as an intervention, and a few times a week should be enough – it will help you get vitamin A sufficient, but it’s an intervention and not something for frequent use beyond your first bottle (for most people, anyway). Good luck!

  28. Hi! I’ve come across your site because I was researching if probiotics can assist with eliminating Keratosis Pilaris. I know a lot of skin conditions start in the gut. Would you recommend adding a probiotic?

  29. My skin was really clear this summer, I was only taking 4 FCLBO pills a day (for vitamin A and k2), and then mid september I started on 5,000 IU of Vitamin D a day. And noticed by October my keratosis pilaris was back and I was feeling sorta depressed, brain fog, dry eyes, keratosis. I don’t have nigh blindness. My eyes adjust quickly to the dark. I’ve been so terrified to death of ODing on Vit A or D and unfortunately I feel compelled to supplement cause of the KP and Weather here. I got my Vitamin A and D levels checked and my A levels were 45 and the range is from 30 to 80 and my vitamin D was 48, minimum was 30. This is just so hard for me. This skin condition is really getting to me and I cant even tell if my depression is just caused by stress from this or the Vitamin ratios being off. If my Levels seem adequate, what is going on with my skin? Side note…I added grass fed butter in to get more k2…and atleast my acne is history, not sure if it has more of the k2 that I need. I could eat a stick of butter a day honestly, it’s so good. I take all the cofactors, magnesium glycenate, zinc.
    I just cant figure this out! I’m affraid 10,000 Vit A a day could be too much, is 5,000 vit D a day too little? Are my stores of K2 just inadequate. It’s just so hard. And there are people eating junk all day long and I try to follow such a meticulous diet and eat my bone in salmon for breakfast to have clear skin and a clear mind. Sorry, I’m just so so gutted 🙁

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