Here’s What’s Behind That Dry, Flaky Skin On Your Nose

Photo: Stocksy

You could moisturize your skin consistently, yet somehow, dry skin around the nose still shows up to sabotage an otherwise hydrated complexion. So, why exactly does dry skin around the nose happen? Put simply, the nose is the part of the face that juts out the most, says Purvisha Patel, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare.

"Our noses are the first way air enters the body," she explains, adding that the inside skin (or mucous membranes) of the skin can be dry if the environment is dry and cold." With that said, it's not as simple as your surrounding climate, and there can be plenty of culprits behind flaky, dry skin around the nose. Ahead, we dive deeper with Dr. Patel, Dr. Whitney Tolpinrud, MD, and Dr. Kellie Reed, MD, into some of the causes and what to do to treat and prevent dry nose skin. 

Experts In This Article
  • Kellie Reed, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in aesthetic skin care, general medical dermatology, pediatric, and rheumatologic dermatology
  • Purvisha Patel, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare
  • Whitney Tolpinrud, MD, is a dermatologist in San Diego, CA  

What causes dry skin around the nose?

1. Environmental exposure

Dry nose skin often indicates environmental exposure, and cold, dry weather is usually the main culprit. "The outside skin of the nose can be dry and peeling even though the rest of the skin is hydrated due to exposure to the environment," Dr. Patel says. She recommends keeping your face protected by a balaclava or blanket scarf so that everything stays covered. 

2. UV damage

"UV radiation can cause the skin on exposed surfaces to burn easily and often," Dr. Patel explains. One of the more concerning side effects of UV exposure is, of course, skin cancer. Dr. Patel says this can lead to actinic damage, which is when UV radiation causes DNA damage to cells over time. This can show up as dry or peeling skin on the nose. The best way to stay on top of things? Don't ignore getting skin checks from your board-certified dermatologist regularly. 

3. Allergies or sickness

Other causes of dry nose skin include allergies and sickness. "If you have allergies or a cold, constant nose blowing can irritate the skin on the nose and cause peeling," Dr. Patel says, which makes perfect sense considering how irritating frequent tissue use can be. Basically, just like your lips, your nose can get chapped.

4. A skin condition

If you consistently have dry skin around the nose, it could indicate skin conditions such as rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis. Rosacea is a chronic genetic condition prone to this issue since it's "associated with flushing, redness, sensitivity, or dryness of the nose and cheeks," explains Dr. Patel. According to Dr. Patel, seborrheic dermatitis is more common in oily skin types and may show up as flaking in the corners of the nose, brows, scalp, or even behind the ears. 

5. Your routine

Dr. Patel says if your skin isn't properly absorbing your products, it can create buildup, which can lead to flakiness. One way to combat this is to make sure you're regularly exfoliating your skin to buff off dead skin cells and avoid drying ingredients like alcohol, which can make flaking worse. 

How to get rid of flakiness around the nose

1. Moisturize

Your first line of defense against dry skin around the nose is a good old moisturizer. According to Dr. Patel, treating flaky nose skin will help repair the moisture barrier in the skin, but it'll also soothe the itchiness and discomfort associated with dryness—all the more reason to follow Elizabeth Hurley's advice and keep some on you at all times. Not sure how much moisturizer to use? A nickel-sized amount should do the trick.

2. Stay hydrated

Dry nose skin typically points to dehydration. This one is a no-brainer, but ensure you're getting enough water and keeping your body hydrated from the inside out. 

3. Avoid over-exfoliating

Dr. Patel says that you should not (I repeat, should not) scrub off the flaking skin, as satisfying as it might be—especially "with instances such as rosacea and actinic damage, as the flaking will come back." Keep things gentle when treating flaky nose skin, and even consider using flaxseed oil for skin, as it's a known inflammation fighter.

4. See a dermatologist

As previously mentioned, flaky skin could indicate a larger skin condition. So, if you suspect this might be the case, seeing a dermatologist is best. Dr. Patel says that in general, however, for rosacea, you should look for products created specifically for soothing sensitive, irritable skin. For those with seborrheic dermatitis, your dermatologist can help figure out what is triggering flare-ups and prescribe topicals to help address the dryness.

How do you heal raw skin on your nose fast?

Dry skin around the nose often leads to a raw, uncomfortable feeling. If you're looking for a quick solution, Dr. Reed says using Vaseline or Aquaphor is your best bet, especially after being in the cold. Dr. Tolpinrud adds that using a gentle moisturizer will ease any discomfort right away. "Using moisturizers with ceramides, lipids, and cholesterols can help repair a damaged skin barrier, she says.

Why do we experience dry nose skin in cold weather?

When it's cold outside, most of us first blast our indoor heating systems. And while that's a good solution to warming our bodies, it's pretty terrible for our skin. "Common causes of dry noses in the winter are dry air, indoor heating systems, harsh acne treatments, and over-exfoliation," Dr. Reed says. "Indoor heating systems can contribute to dry air; ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and retinoids can be drying." Again, if your nose area is dry, coating it with a layer of Vaseline or Aquaphor can help.

Final takeaway

If you've tried treating flaky nose skin with every method under the sun, it might be time to consult a doctor. "If you're not noticing improvements, it's important to talk with a healthcare provider for additional advice, given certain dermatological conditions may be causing your symptoms," Dr. Tolpinrud says.

Additionally, you might have a skin condition you're unaware of, making it even more necessary to speak with a dermatologist. "Some dermatologic conditions, such as periorificial dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis, can present with dryness or flaking around the nose, among other symptoms," says Dr. Tolpinrud. "If these symptoms persist or you're unsure what the cause may be, it's important to consult a healthcare provider." 

The Wellness Intel You Need—Without the BS You Don't
Sign up today to have the latest (and greatest) well-being news and expert-approved tips delivered straight to your inbox.
Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

Loading More Posts...