Keratosis pilaris is a common skin condition characterized by small acne-like bumps and dry, rough patches. Your arms, buttocks and thighs are most likely to be affected. The basic cause of keratosis pilaris is a buildup of the protein keratin that blocks the skin's hair follicles. The cause of this buildup is unknown but is often associated with allergies and a similar skin condition called eczema. Magnesium may help the condition owing to its positive impact on eczema and dry skin.
Keratosis and Eczema
Keratosis pilaris is a characteristic roughness on the skin of children with allergies, people who have eczema and those with potential eczema. Improving eczema and allergies may therefore help to treat keratosis pilaris. Keratosis is characterized by its scaly plugs, and eczema is most known for its scaly and itchy rashes. The cause of eczema is a hypersensitivity skin reaction similar to an allergic reaction. This reaction causes inflammation of the skin and can lead to blisters, raw skin and leather-like areas of skin.
Topical magnesium may improve skin conditions like keratosis and eczema. Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. recommends using magnesium bath flakes and spraying magnesium oil on eczema-affected skin. Dean also suggests avoiding wheat, sugar and dairy, which are known allergy triggers. Magnesium supplements and magnesium-rich foods may also be beneficial. Dr. Brian J. Abelson, D.C. explains that a correlation between allergies, asthma and eczema occurs owing to environmental toxins and nutritional deficiencies. He suggests taking between 100 and 300 milligrams of magnesium supplements daily for asthma. This therapy may benefit your skin too, but ask your doctor before taking supplements.
Magnesium and zinc may play an important dietary role in combating the symptoms of keratosis and eczema, such as dry skin and itchy skin. A study published in the "Journal of International Medical Research" in July-August 2004 showed that mice fed a diet low in magnesium and zinc experience greater instances of skin dryness and scratching as well a reduced skin water content compared to those in mice eating a standard diet. Including magnesium-rich foods in your diet is easy. Green vegetables, beans, peas, seeds, nuts and unrefined grains such as brown rice and whole-wheat products are high in magnesium. Refined grains are not rich sources of magnesium, however. These include products like white rice and white bread.
Moisturizing the skin can relieve the dryness associated with keratosis. It can also improve the appearance of your skin. Your doctor may recommend or prescribe a cream or lotion containing ingredients like vitamin D, lactic acid, glycolic acid, tretoinoin and urea. Visible improvement may take months, and the bumps can eventually return. Your doctor may also give you a topical corticosteroid, which is an anti-inflammatory drug that suppresses your immune system, to reduce cell turnover. Another option is topical retinoids, drugs derived from vitamin A that may help prevent the hair follicle plugging characteristic of keratosis pilaris.
- Dr. Carolyn Dean MD ND: Healthy Strategies for Asthma and Eczema
- Ask Dr. Abelson: Nutritional Management of Childhood Asthma, Allergies, and Atopic Eczema
- Journal of International Medical Research: Atopic Dermatitis-like Symptoms in HR-1 Hairless Mice Fed a Diet Low in Magnesium and Zinc
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Keratosis Pilaris -- Treatment
- Medline Plus: Atopic Eczema
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium