Can Your Diet Cause or Relieve Keratosis Pilaris?
Keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition caused by a deficiency of vitamin A. Vitamin A helps your body produce collagen, which is the main structural protein in connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments and cartilage. Without enough collagen, these structures break down over time leading to pain and stiffness. Keratin is another type of connective tissue found in hair, nails and skin. Without sufficient amounts of keratin, these areas become brittle and lose their strength. When this happens, they may even fall off. If left untreated, it can lead to scarring and loss of function.
Vitamin A deficiency is most commonly seen in children under five years old who are not getting enough sun exposure. Children with keratosis pilaris often have a tendency to scratch at night when sleeping due to lack of sleep. They will also wake up during the day because their fingers and toes feel cold and stiff. Adults can also have vitamin A deficiencies, but they are more likely to suffer from dry skin and night vision problems.
Fortunately, the condition is very easy to treat with over the counter or prescription topical creams containing high levels of vitamin A. Within two months of daily skin treatments, the patient’s skin should become softer and less prone to flaking and itching. More severe cases can benefit from a course of supplements.
In more severe cases, caused by a diet or condition preventing adequate amounts of vitamin A or other nutrients, patients may need to get help from their doctor. Before you make an appointment with your doctor, try and get a general rule of the best supplements for your body as this will save you both time and money.
Some people have found that diet can play a part in causing the condition. This is usually caused by an allergy or intolerance to certain foods or drinks. Some people have found that they are sensitive to dairy products, nuts or yeast, while others suffer from an allergic reaction to goose fat, which is often used by restaurants. Although uncommon, it is possible for an allergy to citrus fruit to cause the condition as the body struggles to break down the sugars inside the fruit.
If you find that your condition improves or worsens after eating a specific food or drinking a certain type of drink, you should avoid it at all costs.
Other people believe that diet can play a part in causing the condition. A high-fat or high-sugar diet is likely to clog up your arteries and reduce blood flow to the skin. This means that the skin is not able to regenerate itself as quickly, which may cause it to shed more than it should. A low-fiber diet can have a similar effect by slowing down your digestive system.
If the undigested food sits in your bowels for too long, it may cause an infection that interferes with blood flow.
So you have tried everything and nothing is working?
It might be time to speak to a professional. Before you do, it is important to keep a record of every single thing you have tried so far. This might seem like a lot of work, but it will make it much easier for your doctor to diagnose you and get you the help you need.
If you suffer from a more severe case of keratosis pilaris, or the condition is sores become infected by scratching them too much, you should head to the hospital and ask to see a dermatologist. These are the doctors that specialize in treating skin conditions and will be able to help you.
There are a few things that you should expect them to do which include:
Take a full medical history: A good dermatologist will ask you about any allergies, conditions or other medical problems you may have. They will also ask about your diet, any medicines you are taking and other aspects of your lifestyle. All of these factors can contribute to KP.
A skin scraping or biopsy: A small sample of your skin is taken off for examination in a laboratory. This helps the doctor identify if there are mites, bacteria or fungus present that are causing your skin to react in this way.
A vascular test: The doctor will look for any signs of damage to the tiny blood vessels just under the skin surface. If damaged, releasing agents like histamine can leak into the skin and cause inflammation and irritation.
Sources & references used in this article:
Obesity and the skin: skin physiology and skin manifestations of obesity by G Yosipovitch, A DeVore, A Dawn – Journal of the American Academy of …, 2007 – Elsevier
Epidemiology of skin diseases in school children: a study from northern India by S Dogra, B Kumar – Pediatric dermatology, 2003 – Wiley Online Library
The prevalence of cutaneous manifestations in IDDM patients and their association with diabetes risk factors and microvascular complications by G Yosipovitch, E Hodak, P Vardi, I Shraga… – Diabetes …, 1998 – Am Diabetes Assoc
Treatment of keratosis pilaris with 810-nm diode laser: a randomized clinical trial by O Ibrahim, M Khan, D Bolotin, M Dubina… – JAMA …, 2015 – jamanetwork.com