What to Eat When You Have Keratosis Pilaris

Dietary Recommendations for Better Management

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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.

Salmon and a healthy salad

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.

How It Works

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.

What to Eat

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:

  • Fruit and vegetables: Leafy greens such as spinach and chard, as well as orange and yellow vegetables, are reasonably high in vitamin A. Fruits and vegetables such as berries, oranges, and leafy green vegetables are also rich in antioxidants, which can help fight inflammation. Aim to consume at least five servings per day.
  • Dairy: While dairy products and proteins found in milk are thought to contribute to inflammation, newer studies suggest that dairy does not cause inflammation. Some studies suggest it may even fight inflammation. You do not need to avoid milk or dairy products unless you have a dairy allergy.
  • Lean protein: Fatty cuts of red meat and processed meats are high in saturated fat, which can cause inflammation—swap red meat for fish, lean poultry, beans, and legumes.
  • Fatty fish: Salmon, sardines, and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation in the body. Increase your intake of essential fatty acids by consuming fatty fish at least twice weekly.
  • Whole grains: Brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and whole-grain pasta are rich in B vitamins and antioxidants, which can support total-body health and reduce inflammation. Unless you are diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you do not need to avoid gluten if you have keratosis pilaris.
  • Beverages: Alcohol should be limited because, in excess, it can contribute to inflammation. Aim to limit your intake of sugary drinks and fruit juices. Instead, opt for sparkling water or water infused with fresh fruit.

Recommended Timing

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.

Cooking Tips

When cooking at home, some healthy swaps you can make to help you stick with your diet include:

  • Instead of deep frying foods, choose grilled, baked, or broiled cooking methods.
  • Instead of butter, use healthy fats such as olive oil or avocado. You can use a 1-to-1 ratio when swapping out butter for avocado.
  • Use anti-inflammatory herbs and seasonings like turmeric, garlic, or ginger instead of salt.
  • Try roasting fatty fish on brussels sprouts, bell pepper, and onion drizzled with olive oil.


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.

General Nutrition

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:

  • Vegetables (all types)
  • Fruits (primarily whole fruit)
  • Grains (at least half being whole grains)
  • Dairy (low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified soy beverages)
  • Protein (lean poultry, eggs, seafood, nuts, lentils, and soy products)
  • Oils (vegetable oils and oils that naturally occur in foods like seafood and nuts)


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.

A Word From Verywell

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.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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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.