Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Rithi Choudhury (Journalist) on 10th Nov 2020
How to get rid of dry skin around the mouth and nose (and why moisturizing is not enough)?
Do you grow white furs around your mouth and nose? If yes, then you have come to the right place or should we say an article. P.S. We were referring to dry, scaly, patchy skin around the nose and around the mouth.
What causes dry skin around the mouth and on the nose?
The skin around the mouth and nose is delicate compared to the rest of the skin on our face. Therefore, ill-treating it or using certain harsh products makes the skin around the mouth and the nose react easily.
These reactions are typical. There's an appearance of redness, stinging sensation, rashes, and itching followed by dry and flaky bits of skin around those areas.
Cosmetically that is not a pleasant sight, and therefore, our instinct would make us grab a moisturizer and slather over the place. But is that the solution? The chances are that the dry, flaky skin will reappear once the moisturizer wears off unless the root cause is addressed. It is important to first always understand the root of a problem before looking for solutions.
There could be no specific but several reasons behind dry skin around and on the nose, the forehead, around the mouth, between the eyebrows, etc.
Possible causes include:
1. Seborrheic Dermatitis:
It is a common skin condition almost like eczema, but is not eczema. Usually, the symptoms show on the scalp in the form of dandruff and itching. It can also show anywhere in the body in the form of redness, scaly and flaky accompanied by itching skin around the nose, on the forehead, around the mouth, in folds in fingers, etc. The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown, but it is speculated that it could be because of yeast living on the skin, cold and dry weather, stress, etc.
This is another common skin condition with symptoms similar to seborrheic dermatitis: inflamed skin, often itchy, dry, and scaly. It can occur anywhere/any part of the body, and the bad news is that there is no cure for eczema yet. However, it is a very controllable skin disease.
3. Perioral Dermatitis:
This type of dermatitis (skin irritation) occurs around the mouth and spreads to the nose. It is more common in women than in men. Symptoms are redness, stinging sensation, dryness, and itching. Causes for perioral dermatitis could be the use of topical steroid creams, prescription steroid inhalers, fluoridated toothpaste (but remember fluoride-free toothpaste is not effective against cavities), or face creams/lotions with irritating ingredients.
4. Harsh Climate:
Too hot/too cold/too dry climate is a common factor for a dry and flaky skin condition. Too much/too little humidity in the environment also flares up skin conditions like eczema, which often worsens in such harsh climatic conditions.
Our skin produces natural oil (sebum), which lubricates the skin and acts as a natural barrier to protecting the skin from environmental factors and pathogens. We wash our face regularly with cleansing agents to take off excess oil, dirt, and makeup. We often do the cleansing part wrong - either we wash too often or use harsh cleaning agents. This strips off the essential oil from our face and leaves it dry. Once the skin's protective barrier is broken, it gets easily irritated from environmental factors such as smoke, pollution, U.V. rays, etc.
6. Over Exfoliation:
Exfoliation is good for the skin when done in the right way. It promotes cellular turnover and deeply cleanses the pores. But doing it more often than required will only strip the skin of natural oils, shed skin cells in excess, and leave it vulnerable, irritated, and inflamed.
7. Showering With Hot Water:
We admit there is no comfort like a hot shower, especially after a tiring day. But your skin disagrees. A hot Shower leaves the skin dry by stripping the natural oils, and especially if you have dry skin, it will only aggravate the dryness.
8. Unprotected Sun Exposure:
U.V. rays may not cause dermatitis, but it will sure flare up your irritated skin. Sun exposure damages the skin's outermost layer (stratum corneum), and therefore, it thickens, becoming rough and dry.
9. Allergic Ingredients:
Most often, we are not mindful of the products we put on our skin and hair. If we just took a few mins to turn the bottles and educate ourselves on the ingredients, we would not suffer from many skin and hair woes. Skin sensitizing ingredients like essential oil, fragrances are not for everybody. U.V. unstable ingredients are not for anybody. The active ingredients or preservatives can often be allergic to some and cause conditions like contact dermatitis (dry, flaky, itchy skin with redness, inflammation).
How to treat dry skin around the nose and the mouth
1. Go Fragrance-Free:
Fragrance is an umbrella term for many chemicals used in skincare products to give a pleasant aroma. It is a fragrance that often drives a consumer to buy specific skincare and haircare products because obviously everyone wants to smell like a bowl of fruit salad or a bunch of flowers. But in all honesty, the fragrance has no benefit in skincare and is the primary cause of skin sensitivity, allergies, and reactions. You don't want to further irritate your already irritated skin by using a moisturizer loaded with fragrance. Go for fragrance-free variants, and your olfactory receptors may not, but our skin will thank you.
2. Use A Gentle Cleanser:
Avoid cleansers with harsh cleansing agents like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium Laureth sulfate, a skin sensitizing agent. One should avoid it if it is high up on the ingredient list. But not all sulfates are as harsh as sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate. There are milder sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfoacetate and others that cleanses oil and dirt without being aggressive. When it comes to cleansers, the fragrance isn't as evil as it would be washed off anyway, unlike leave-on products. However, for extra sensitive skin going for fragrance free and dye-free options will prove beneficial. Wash your face properly with a cleanser only once a day if your skin is normal, dry, or sensitive. Even if you have oily skin, replace your morning cleanser with mild cleansers like micellar water or a cleanser with active ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to control oil and also provide
3. Exfoliate Only Once A Week:
The right way to exfoliate is not to over-exfoliate. Especially if you have dry skin, the tendency is to scrub the dead skin cells off, but the chances are that you will be further aggravating the condition. Chemical exfoliants are milder and get the job done effectively (better than physical exfoliants that create micro-tears on the skin). Chemical exfoliants shred the dead skin cells on the surface and dissolve the bond between dead skin cells that clogs the pores. Once new skin cells are revealed, you need to give them time and not exfoliate them because that causes dryness and irritation. Also, choose a hydrating exfoliant like lactic acid to prevent further dryness.
Our Pick :
4. Wear Sunscreen:
Sun exposure can lead to a plethora of problems, and sunscreen can save us from those if worn the right way. Our skin always needs protection from the sun but more so when exfoliated as the newly revealed cells are more susceptible to sun damage. Therefore be it rain or shine, always wear a broad spectrum SPF (30 or above) to protect the skin. But when you have skin conditions like dryness and flakiness, you would do better to go with a mineral sunscreen containing zinc oxide. Chemical sunscreens are often irritating for sensitive skin, and a lot of them have fragrance.
5. Moisturize With The Right Ingredients:
We already established the importance of going for a fragrance-free moisturizer. But what are the beneficial ingredients you should go for when choosing a moisturizer? Look for humectants like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and skin-soothing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, skin-nourishing ingredients like ceramides and peptides. Avoid creams/lotions with denatured alcohol, but also note that not all alcohols are nasty. Alcohols are only a chemical term, and certain alcohols used in skincare like cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol are emollients (hydrating).
6. Luke Warm Showers:
The best water temperature to bathe with is neither hot nor cold but lukewarm (this is true even for hair). Avoid taking longer showers, and while the skin is still damp, apply your moisturizer.
7. Stay Hydrated:
This is something models, influencers, and actors repeat: "Drink 2 liters of water for glowing skin!" While there is no evidence to prove that drinking a ton of water will lead to glowing skin. Still, it will sure prevent dehydration and, therefore, overly dry skin.
8. Protect With Appropriate Clothing
When the weather is too dry and cold, cover your face with a scarf to protect the face from wind burns. The same goes for a sunny day. Your skin will do well when protected from direct exposure to pollution and sunlight. But remember to wash your face later because the sweat can create a damp environment, a picnic for fungus, and resulting fungal acne.
If the skin continues to be dry and flaky or if you notice unusual changes, then it is best to seek a dermatologist. Especially if you have sensitive skin, do consult your dermatologist before switching to a new product.