- Dry and flaky skin on the nose and cheeks can be caused by your environment, lifestyle or genetics.
- Hydrating and protectant skin care products, such as creams and ointments, are key to preventing and treating most causes of dry skin on the nose and cheek area.
- In cases where dry skin is caused by medical conditions such as eczema or rosacea, your dermatologist may recommend a prescription-strength treatment.
Why Skin Gets Dry
Stubborn dry skin around the nose and cheeks is a common dermatological issue. Oil-producing sebaceous glands are particularly scarce around the nostrils, which can easily lead to a lack of hydrating, natural oil in that area.
Environmental conditions such as poor indoor ventilation, harsh weather and a dry climate can trigger or worsen dry skin. Other factors such as allergies, colds and genetics can also contribute to moisture loss on the nose and cheeks.
The Difference Between Dry and Dehydrated Skin
While dry skin and dehydrated skin may exhibit similar symptoms, the two conditions are quite different.
Dehydrated skin is temporary; once treated, the skin will return to its normal state. Dry skin, however, refers to a natural skin type, like oily or combination skin. Those with dry skin need to continually manage it over time with products and regular treatments to maintain adequate moisture levels.
If you have dry skin, your sebaceous glands produce less oil than other skin types, and requires lipids to help lock-in moisture. Symptoms include discomfort, itching and the appearance of dry flakes around the corners of the nose and cheeks.
When skin is dehydrated, the sebaceous glands react by overproducing oil, leading to a layer of oiliness and shine on the nose and cheeks, while skin still feels dry and tight. Like dry skin, dehydrated skin also causes flaking and itchy skin, but exhibits more redness and inflammation around the nose.
Dehydrated skin lacks moisture due to diet, climate and other environmental factors. Adjusting your diet by drinking more water and consuming less caffeine is often enough to soothe dehydrated skin.
In cases where your environment is at play, protecting your skin from the elements, applying moisturizer and using a humidifier can all be a part of the solution.
What Causes Dry Skin on the Nose and Cheeks?
Dry skin can be a result of multiple factors. Certain elements can trigger or worsen dry skin such as lifestyle choices, aging and the environment. Most of these factors are difficult or impossible to avoid, but an effective skin care regimen can minimize their effects.
Allergies, hay fever and illness
Sneezing and blowing your nose takes a toll on your skin. Repeatedly rubbing a tissue on your skin can remove your facial creams and lotions, while simultaneously robbing skin of its natural oils in the nose and cheek areas.
While your DNA largely determines your skin type, other genetic factors, such as hormone production can also impact your skin. A drop in hormone production, particularly in menopausal women, leads to decreased cellular renewal and oil production leading to dryer skin across the face and body.
The face is particularly susceptible to hormonal fluctuations because it has a higher number of sebaceous glands per square inch than the rest of the body. This can cause a decrease in oil production on the nose and cheeks, leading to flaking skin.
The sun’s UVA and UVB rays
The face is particularly vulnerable to sun damage, as skin in the area is thin and nearly always exposed to the sun. Wearing a broad-brimmed hat or cap and applying an SPF 30 sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection will help protect skin from damage and dehydration.
Strong winds and snowy conditions are harsh on skin and can leave it looking red and feeling raw. The cold dry air can also stimulate the nerves inside the nose, leading to more mucus that needs to be wiped away, further irritating skin.
Overuse of topical beauty products
Exfoliating skin with a retinol, lactic or alpha hydroxy acid-based product is ideal for removing dead skin cells, however overuse can leave skin looking red and irritated, and cause dry skin to build up. Excessive DIY and professional facial treatments can also leave you more susceptible to sunburn and skin damage.
Whether it’s heat during winter or air conditioning in the summer, forced air can play havoc with skin; air conditioners and newer heating systems suck moisture out of the air as they work. This causes the thinner external layer of your facial skin to become dehydrated, resulting in itchy flaking skin on the cheeks and nose.
Too much or too little facial moisturizer
Forgoing a moisturizer or only using one sporadically can contribute to dry skin, which can push your sebaceous glands into overdrive. This can result in skin that is dry or overly oily.
Conversely, using too much moisturizer can create a buildup of product in the corners of your nose. Over time, using too much moisturizer can cause your skin to decrease its normal production of oil, leading to increasingly dryer skin.
If your nose is constantly dry and flaking, you may have a skin condition such as eczema or rosacea.
Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that frequently goes hand-in-hand with asthma and hay fever. Eczema usually presents as red, itchy patches on the face, and are dry and scaly.
Rosacea is a common skin disease that can appear anywhere on the body. On the cheeks, it resembles a red or pink flush and often extends to the entire face. Skin may sting or feel sensitive, have visible blood vessels, and rough or scaly patches.
Consulting with a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and treatment is recommended for both eczema and rosacea.
How to Get Rid of Dry Skin on Nose and Cheeks
Topical creams and lotions
Replenish your skin’s moisture level by using a gentle and soothing cream or lotion. This will create a barrier between your skin and the environment and lock-in moisture.
When choosing a moisturizer for your nose and cheeks, look for products specifically designed for the face. Moisturizes meant for the body can be too harsh and greasy for the face, which can cause irritation and further skin issues.
Creams intended for the area around the eyes can typically be applied on the nose and cheeks, however these creams are formulated for very delicate skin and may not provide ideal results on the cheeks or nose area.
When purchasing a cream, look for products containing natural emollients such as:
- Shea butter
- Cocoa butter
- Coconut oil
- Jojoba oil
Ointments and balms
Much like topical creams and lotions, ointments and balms are chock-full of healing and protective ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, shea butter and jojoba oil. Ointments and balms are occlusive, meaning they prevent water loss from the skin.
Ideal for flaky, dry skin, these products act as a thick barrier to environmental skin irritants.
These products also contain only a few key ingredients and omit many potential irritants to help ensure your skin is not further irritated.
Applying retinol—a vitamin A derivative—on dry and flaky skin works to eliminate dead skin cells while stimulating your skin’s cellular turnover.
Applying a small amount of retinoid cream to the nose and cheeks, while avoiding the eyes and mouth, can significantly improve your skin’s appearance and hydration.
Ceramides with salicylic acid
Salicylic acid in topical ceramide-based cleansers, creams and lotions, help cleanse and hydrate the skin while soothing irritation, smoothing away dry flakes and increasing the skin’s water retention and lipids.
Much like ointments, ceramide creams provide the skin around your nose and eyes with a safe and effective protective barrier to environmental conditions.
Topical corticosteroids and topical calcineurin inhibitors
For those with chronically dry skin or eczema, topical corticosteroids and topical calcineurin inhibitors can help skin by slowing down the immune system. An overactive immune system can cause inflammation, redness, scaling, and itching, particularly on the face.
Speak with your dermatologist prior to applying topical corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors in order to find an effective treatment.
Urea is a topical cream medication that can protect skin against dryness and irritation. This cream strengthens the skin’s barrier function to help prevent environmental irritants from drying skin.
These creams are also used to treat psoriasis and eczema, both of which can cause dry skin on the nose and cheeks. Urea creams should be used with caution on the face as they can cause irritation and itchiness.
Tips to Prevent Dry Skin From Recurring
Dry skin is very common skin complaint and not a health issue, yet chronically dry skin can be uncomfortable and even painful, so preventing it from occurring or recurring is important.
Daily habits and lifestyle routines, from cleansing with warm water to using a humidifier can all play a part in protecting your skin.
Skin care routine
- When washing your face, use tepid to warm water as hot water can strip your skin of its essential oils.
- Cleanse your skin with an oil-based or mild pH-balanced facial wash; avoid soaps and cleansers that contain harsh chemicals and ingredients.
- Avoid skin care products that contain alcohol, fragrance, sulfates, willow bark, astringents, dye, and sodium chloride; these ingredients will deplete your skin of its natural oil.
- Avoid taking long, hot baths or showers; limit bathing to 10 minutes with warm water.
- Shower after swimming to remove the chlorine and other chemicals from your skin; follow with a good face moisturizer.
- Use a humidifier while you sleep.
- Eat foods rich in essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and -6 oils to hydrate from within; these include olives, salmon, flaxseed and walnuts.
- Eat antioxidants to help maintain your skin’s overall health, including spinach, tuna, sweet potatoes, papayas and citrus.
When to See a Doctor
If your skin continues to feel irritated and exhibits symptoms of redness, inflammation, pain, dryness, itchy patches and flakes, consult a doctor or dermatologist. This is especially true if basic treatments such as moisturizers simply fail to reverse your skin’s condition or if your skin is worsening regardless of your prevention and treatment.
In cases where you believe the dry skin on your nose and cheeks is caused by eczema, rosacea or any other medical condition, consult a dermatologist to find out how best to treat your particular issues.
Dry skin on the nose and cheeks is a common dermatological issue that can lead to red and itchy skin. While genetics play a large role in determining if you will suffer from dry skin, environmental factors and lifestyle choices can trigger or contribute to the issue.
In most cases, dry skin on the nose and cheeks can be easily prevented and treated using only over-the-counter moisturizing products. Select a moisturizing cream, balm or ointment that contains natural moisturizers such as honey or jojoba oil to soothe your skin. Regular application of a moisturizer that is right for you skin type as part of your daily routine is the best way to prevent dry skin.
If these moisturizers fail to keep flaky skin at bay, a stronger product may be required. Retinoids, salicylic acid and urea each approach skin hydration from a different angle. Using skin care products that contain these ingredients will help to ensure smooth and well-hydrated skin.
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