Dry skin has a number of causes, ranging from the ordinary to the serious. The first step in finding a solution is analyzing your facial care regimen. If you moisturize and exfoliate regularly, chances are your dry skin isn’t caused by a simple buildup of dead, dry skin cells. Check with your doctor to rule out eczema, psoriasis or actinic keratoses.
Basic Skin Care
If your skin care regimen is the soap-and-water variety, combat dry skin with an amped-up regimen that prevents moisture loss. According to author Paula Begoun in “The Complete Beauty Bible,” using a daily moisturizer can heal most dry skin 1. If dry skin persists, it probably means your skin lacks water content, which can’t be improved with simple moisturizer. She suggests switching to a gentle soap-free cleanser, using an exfoliating alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acid on your skin at night, and applying a thin layer of olive or safflower oil over your moisturizer on affected areas before you go to bed.
If a moisture-rich skin-care regimen doesn’t solve your problem, an underlying skin condition may be to blame. Eczema refers to a range of skin conditions that can cause dry, scaly, rash-like skin patches. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, eczema has a number of causes. While doctors don’t know exactly what causes it, eczema may involve heredity, an allergic reaction to an irritant, an immune system overreaction or microscopic gaps in the skin that cause it to lose water as well as admit potentially harmful organisms.
Often difficult to tell apart from eczema, psoriasis can also causes patches of itchy, flaky skin. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, facial psoriasis most often appears on the skin between the nose and the upper lip 3. Your doctor may be able to diagnose it on sight; if not, a biopsy of the affected skin can offer a firmer diagnosis. Facial psoriasis is usually treated with light topical steroids; more severe cases might require scale removers and doses of UV light.
The American Academy of Dermatology notes that scaly, dry patches on your skin may be actinic keratoses, an early stage of skin cancer. These patches are often found on skin repeatedly exposed to UV light, such as the nose. Actinic keratoses might be as small as the tip of a pen or as large as a coin with flesh-toned or brown coloration. These pre-cancerous lesions are common in people with light skin, a lot of sun exposure or a compromised immune system.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Over-the-counter moisturizers and exfoliating acids may be able to remove the dry skin patches on your nose. If they don’t, you should visit your doctor to make sure the dry patches aren’t a sign of something more serious. The National Psoriasis Foundation notes that two FDA-approved drugs, Elidel and Protopic, can treat both eczema and facial psoriasis 3. In the case of actinic keratoses, the AAD notes that they’re treatable and curable if you catch them early.
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images