Ask Curology: Why do I have dry, flaky skin on my nose?

The real cause of your dry nose — and what to do about it.

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C
Jun 23, 2020 · 4 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
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Welcome to Ask Curology, penned by one of our in-house medical providers in response to your questions about all things skincare. This week, we’re looking at a particular skin woe: flaky, scaly skin on our nose.

• • •

Dear Curology,

My skin is normal-to-oily everywhere except for one place: my nostrils. The dry skin on the sides of my nose is so annoying, and it gets worse. When allergy season picks up, my nose is so dried out, the skin starts to scale and flake. Sometimes, it spreads to the skin above my mouth, too. Why is my nose peeling? If you have a great overnight cure, I could sure use it!


Break the Flake

Dear Flake,

I’ve experienced some flaking under my bottom lip before, so I can somewhat relate. Flaking is so annoying, no matter where it’s happening on your face. Fun fact: it tends to happen around the nose and mouth because the skin in this area is often extra sensitive. Understanding what’s causing the dry skin around your nose is the first step to treating it.

Possible reasons why your nose is dry

Tissue paper: If you’re constantly blowing or wiping your nose, the rubbing from tissue paper may result in dryness and peeling.

Irritating ingredients: Watch out for products with ingredients that are potentially unkind to skin (like alcohol!). These may contribute to dryness and flaking in sensitive areas.

Climate: Cold, dry weather can zap the moisture from the skin. During winter, indoor heating can also contribute to dryness and flaking. Try running a humidifier to add moisture into the air.

Sunburn: If you’re not wearing enough sunscreen, your skin might get damaged. Sunburnt skin can look peely and flaky, and it may feel drier than usual. Make sure to wear at least SPF 30 and reapply every 2 hours if you’re out in the sun!

Strong actives: While you’re adjusting to a new topical medication with prescription-strength ingredients (like your Curology cream) you could experience some temporary dryness or flaking, especially in areas where the skin is more sensitive.

Over-exfoliating: You may think exfoliating your skin will help with the flakiness, but it’s likely better to leave your skin alone. Over-exfoliating can make things a lot worse — a tell-tale sign you’ve exfoliated too much is skin that looks shiny, but not oily.

Perioral dermatitis: This is a common rash, mainly affecting adult women. Itchy or tender small red bumps appear on the skin around the face — usually around the nose, eyes, or mouth area. If you think you have perioral dermatitis, reach out to your Curology medical provider or in-person medical provider.

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Moisturizers for dry and flaky skin

Using a heavy moisturizer can make a difference in dry, flaky skin. I recommend using a moisturizer with occlusive ingredients (like pure petrolatum, dimethicone, and allantoin). These work by forming a protective barrier around the skin that helps to lock in moisture. Apply a moisturizer both morning and night, and you should see a big difference! Here are a few we often recommend:

Note: If the dryness persists despite these tips or you think you may have an underlying medical condition contributing to the dryness (such as eczema or psoriasis), you may want to see an in-person dermatologist for further treatment.

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Feel free to sound off in the comments with questions, or get in touch with your Curology medical provider. If you’re not a member yet, you can sign up for a free month of Curology (just pay $4.95 + tax to cover the cost of shipping and handling). Members get paired with an in-house medical provider (like me!) for a custom skincare experience.

All my best,

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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