How to Avoid a Red, Peeling Nose When You’ve Got the Sniffles

Updated: Apr. 27, 2020

Constantly blowing your nose could leave you with a chapped nose. Here's how to prevent dryness and redness

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It’s bad enough that you need to carry around wads of tissue when you’re sick, but the peeling, red skin around your nose makes you feel even worse.

Tissue causes friction that rubs your nose raw. Plus, weirdly enough, a wet sniffer can mean dry skin. “You’ve got mucus dripping down into the skin, and that makes the skin wet, and as it evaporates, it causes more dryness,” says Cameron Rokhsar, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, New York.

Using a humidifier is the best way to avoid dryness, says Ivy Lee, MD, a dermatologist based in Pasadena, California and chair of the American Academy of Dermatology’s Telemedicine Task Force. Alternatively, dial down the thermostat to keep your heater from sucking moisture from the air, she says.

Taking irritating products out of your skincare regimen can keep you from looking like Rudolph. “The harsher the cleanser, the worse it is,” says Dr. Rokhsar. Avoid abrasive products, like cleansers with beads and scrubs, and hold off on the anti-aging products, says Dr. Lee. Wrinkle-fighting ingredients like retinol and vitamin A exfoliate the skin, which is the last thing the chapped area needs. Rubbing your face with a gentle cleanser should be enough to get rid of fine flaking, she says.

Be sure to choose the right moisturizers, too. At night, a heavy ointment like Vaseline or Aquaphor can absorb into your skin while you sleep, says Dr. Lee. When you wake up, stick with a thick cream such as CeraVe Moisturizing Cream or Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream, she says. “Ointments are usually too greasy, and once you have them on, it’s tough to have makeup go smoothly over it,” she says. Avoid makeup mistakes that make skin look dry.

Don’t bother splurging on those tissues that have added lotion. The preservatives and fragrances might actually irritate a raw, red nose even more, says Dr. Lee. Instead, stick with plain tissues, following every Kleenex with a gentle moisturizer. “It’s easier said than done, but that can be very helpful,” she says.

Even if your nose starts chapping, you can breathe easy (or at least try to) knowing your skin should be back to normal in less than a week. “It’s something that heals really quickly,” says Dr. Lee. “You just want to create the right environment and skincare regimen for that.” Meanwhile, here are some dry skin home remedies you’ll want to add to your regular beauty routine.