Dry, flaking skin can be an unsightly problem, especially if it occurs in a highly visible area such as your nose. Although dry, flaking facial skin often results from a lack of moisture in the skin due to aging skin or harsh cleaning routines, certain skin conditions can also cause dry skin flakes. If your skin flakes don't improve with changes to your cleaning routine – or if you also experience itching or inflammation – schedule an appointment with your doctor.
You might experience flaking or irritation on your nose right after a bad sunburn or an allergic reaction to a lotion or cream. This can be a sign of healing in damaged or irritated skin. Skin conditions that can cause flaking and irritation in the nose area, according to "Symptoms, Their Causes and Cures," include psoriasis, eczema and seborrheic dermatitis. These conditions require professional oversight and management to heal properly, according to Lon Christianson, M.D., a psoriasis expert with the Dermatology Clinic Limited of Fargo, North Dakota, in "Symptoms, Their Causes and Cures."
Skin flaking due to dry skin often worsens in the winter months when the low humidity of the outdoor air combines with hot indoor air to make your skin dry and parched. Psoriasis patches consist of red, patches of skin covered with flaky silver scales. Eczema, a common skin condition, causes an itchy rash characterized by dry scales or flakes. Seborrheic dermatitis – an inflammatory condition that causes flaky, white to yellowish scales -- occurs most frequently in oily areas, including the scalp, eyelids, lips, behind the ears and in the creases of the nose.
Adding extra moisture to your skin can treat and prevent flaking caused by dry, parched skin. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests washing your face less frequently and using mild soaps, or soap substitutes, on your skin. Avoid using antibacterial or deodorant soaps on your face, since they can further irritate dry, flaky skin. After washing your face, apply a moisturizer, such as petrolatum or lanolin, to seal in moisture.
Scratching at your dry, flaking skin can cause secondary bacterial or fungal skin infections. Seek prompt medical attention if the flaking areas become red, swollen or inflamed. Chronic skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema also can affect your self-esteem and cause stress, anxiety and depression. Your doctor can recommend support groups or counselors that can help you learn to live with these conditions.
On his website TotalDermatology.com, Nissan Pilest, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, suggests treating the "face dandruff" caused by seborrheic dermatitis by applying 0.5% to 1% concentrations of cortisone cream, ointment or gel to the affected areas. If this treatment fails to help within three weeks, see your doctor.