Here’s what’s behind that dry, flaky skin on the nose

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You could moisturize your skin religiously, yet somehow it still happens—that dryness around the nose pops up to sabotage an otherwise hydrated complexion. Why exactly does this happen and why, in particular, around the nose? Put simply the nose is the part of the face that juts out the most, says Purvisha Patel, MD, a Tennessee board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare.

“Our noses are the first way air enters the body,” Dr. Patel explains, adding “the inside skin or mucous membranes of the skin can be dry if the environment is dry and cold.” With that said here’s what could be causing the dry skin around your nose.

dry skin around nose
Photo: Getty Images/Eva-Katalin

What causes dry skin around the nose

1. Environmental exposure

“The outside skin of the nose can be dry and peeling even though the rest of the skin is hydrated also due to exposure to the environment,” Dr. Patel says. She makes the case for keeping your face protected by a balaclava or blanket scarf sound appealing.

2. UV damage

UV radiation can cause the skin on exposed surfaces (hello nose) to burn easily and often” Dr. Patel warns. One of the more concerning side effects of UV exposure is, of course, skin cancer. Dr. Patel says actinic damage, which is when “UV radiation causes DNA damage to cells over time, can present as dry flaking [or] peeling on the nose.” It can be precancerous if your skin fails to heal itself, so getting your skin checked by a dermatologist regularly is a really good idea.

3. Allergies or sickness

“If you have allergies or a cold, constant nose blowing can irritate the skin on the nose and cause peeling,” Dr. Patel says. Basically, just like your lips, your nose can get chapped.

4. A skin condition

If your nose is consistently super dry and flaky, it could be indicative of 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.

The latter condition, seborrheic dermatitis “is a very common condition in which people with oily skin have dry flaking of the corners of their noses, eyebrows, scalp and behind their ears” according to Dr. Patel. This condition is caused by the existence of malassezia yeasts.

6. Your beauty products

One way beauty products can create dry, flaky skin is if your skin isn’t absorbing them properly. This can create build up, which then leads to flakiness. In other words, beauty products might be sabotaging your smooth skin goals if you’re using ones that are clay-based or have skin-drying ingredients such as alcohols, which Dr. Patel says can make flaking worse.

How to get rid of flakiness around the nose

1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

Your first line of defense against this nose flaking is moisturizer.  Not only does it help to repair the moisture barrier in skin, according to Dr. Patel, but it’ll also sooth 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.

2. Make sure you’re hydrated

This one is somewhat of a no-brainer but make sure you’re getting enough water and keeping your body hydrated from the inside out.

3. Don’t go hard with a physical exfoliant

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, the flaking will come back.”

4. See a dermatologist 

As previously mentioned, flaky skin could be an indication of a bigger skin condition. So, if you suspect that this might be the case, see a dermatologist. Dr. Patel says that in general, however, for rosacea  you should look for products created specifically for soothing sensitive, irritable skin. Look for ones that are “non-comedogenic” or won’t clog your pores because the nose area tends to be a place where blackheads like to post up. For those with seborrhea, your dermatologist may help you figure out certain foods and ingredients that are exacerbating the problem or give you topicals to help address the dryness.

To prepare your skin for winter try this dermatologist recommended routine and try keeping your products in the fridge.

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