Lindsey Desoto is a licensed, registered dietitian and experienced medical writer.
Ashley Baumohl, MPH, RD, is a board-certified dietician who provides medical nutrition therapy at Lenox Hill Hospital.
Keratosis pilaris (or “chicken skin”) is a common condition that causes small, rough bumps on the skin. Keratosis pilaris is harmless and does not require treatment.
While no solid scientific evidence supports a specific diet to treat or prevent keratosis pilaris, some people report improvements when following an anti-inflammatory diet. Others say their symptoms improve after eliminating gluten and dairy.
This article discusses the dietary management of keratosis pilaris.
Image by Sherry Galey / Getty Images
There is no universal diet for keratosis pilaris. However, some anecdotal evidence supports eliminating gluten and dairy to improve the condition, but no research has established a link between diet and keratosis pilaris.
Certain factors may be associated with keratosis pilaris and trigger or worsen symptoms. These factors include:
Some alternative medicine practitioners suggest following an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce inflammation and keep the condition in remission.

Although there is no specific diet to treat keratosis pilaris, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats, may be beneficial. An anti-inflammatory diet is closely aligned with a Mediterranean diet.
Many people with keratosis pilaris have other chronic health conditions. As such, dietary management should be individualized, considering these conditions. For example, a person with diabetes may benefit from a moderate carbohydrate intake and avoiding added sugar.
If you find it difficult to determine an eating pattern that works best for you, consider working with a registered dietitian. If you suspect you are deficient in vitamin A or essential fatty acids, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider.
Unless otherwise recommended by your healthcare provider, an anti-inflammatory diet can follow throughout your life. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight, fight chronic inflammation, and prevent long-term chronic disease.

As you create your diet plan to reduce inflammation and improve your overall health, it's a good idea to focus on eating more fresh produce, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. Consider limiting foods that contribute to inflammation, such as fatty cuts of red meat, processed foods, and refined sugar. Foods to eat include:

There is no set recommended meal timing for the keratosis pilaris diet. While some people prefer to eat three larger meals daily, others do better with six smaller meals daily. Depending on your health goals, you may find it beneficial to experiment with meal sizes and frequency to see what works best for you.

When cooking at home, some healthy swaps you can make to help you stick with your diet include:
Because the keratosis pilaris diet is not restrictive, individuals with food allergies or who follow special diets (such as vegan or vegetarian) should not have any difficulties modifying this diet. Pregnant people should increase their nutrient intake to promote healthy fetal development.

Changing your eating habits can be intimidating. When you are prepared for the potential challenges you may face, your chances of success significantly increase.
The keratosis pilaris diet is similar to how we should all eat to achieve optimal health and weight. Limiting your intake of saturated fats, sugary beverages, and inflammatory foods can make it easier to stick to a healthy diet.
The core elements of a healthy diet include:
Choosing whole, minimally processed foods can be a bit costly. To help keep costs to a minimum, you can purchase canned tuna and frozen fruits and vegetables. You can also buy meat in bulk when it is on sale and freeze it for later use.
Another way to save time and money is by setting aside one or two days a week to prep and cook meals. You can enjoy leftovers throughout the week.

A healthy eating pattern allows you to enjoy a variety of different foods. For the most part, this diet is flexible and very easy to follow. It does not restrict any food groups or require you to follow a strict meal plan. Instead, it focuses on eating more foods that have health-promoting properties.
To help you stick with a healthy diet long-term, you may find it beneficial to plan meals ahead of time and keep healthy snacks with you when you're on the go. When eating out, choose grilled, broiled, or braised foods instead of fried, and opt for vegetables as your side item.

There are no specific dietary recommendations for keratosis pilaris. Although anecdotal evidence suggests that removing gluten and dairy may be beneficial, no scientific studies support this. In addition, because the condition is inflammatory, following an anti-inflammatory diet may be helpful. Foods to incorporate into your daily meals include fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.
Even though keratosis pilaris isn't harmful, it can still be incredibly damaging to your self-confidence. Despite some people reporting improvements by eliminating gluten and dairy, there is no evidence to support doing so. If you feel as if you have tried everything and would like to change up your eating patterns, following a well-balanced, anti-inflammatory diet may help. The good news is that the condition usually starts improving as you age.
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By Lindsey DeSoto, RD, LD
Lindsey Desoto is a registered dietitian with experience working with clients to improve their diet for health-related reasons. She enjoys staying up to date on the latest research and translating nutrition science into practical eating advice to help others live healthier lives.

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