Causes of Dry Skin Around Mouth, Lips or Nose

Dry skin around the mouth can be frustrating and sometimes painful if there is blistering, cracking or inflammation. Learn more about the causes, symptoms, remedies, and treatment including when on lips or under the nose.


What causes it? Certain skin conditions like eczema around mount can account for the dryness.

Perioral dermatitis – dry flaky skin

Perioral dermatitis is kind of eczema that is symptomatic of an itchy rash characterized by small tender and red papules. Perioral dermatitis is common around the mouth (but other areas such as areas near or sides of the nose can be affected too).

Perioral dermatitis dry skin rash around mouth
Perioral dermatitis

Dermatologists don’t understand the exact cause of perioral dermatitis. However, its occurrence is closely associated with problems like disruption of the epidermal skin layer functionality. This may be brought about by ignoring facial cleanliness, chemicals found in toothpaste, creams or steroidal medicines.

It may also be signs of genetic defects that lead to activation of immune system.

Symptoms of perioral dermatitis include:

Signs of perioral dermatitis around mouth and chin []

  • Flaky, dry skin surface around the mouth
  • Papules that itch. The papules may also appear as small lesions
  • Burning or painful sensation in skin

Treatment for perioral dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis affecting the facial areas responds well to treatments depending on its severity. Doctors use a combination of topical medication mostly antibiotics (oral or creams and gels) as treatment therapy.

These include Tetracycline, Erythromycin (oral medication), Azelaic acid, etc.

Self-care guidelines

Since this condition can be induced by use of topical products such as steroids, individuals should be diagnosed to help know how best it should be treated. It could also recur if medication is discontinued.

Nonetheless, self-care tips comprise the following.

  • Stop applying creams on your face
  • Washing the face with warm water
  • Informing your doctor in case the symptoms worsen

Contact dermatitis

Unlike perioral dermatitis, contact dermatitis occurs when a substance touches the skin resulting in an irritation. Depending on the body responds to specific substances, a rash of some kind (tiny bumps, patches, dryness or redness may result).

Common sources include fluoride toothpaste, cosmetics (lip balms, lipsticks, mascara, etc.), cleaning agents such as soaps and detergents.

Redness, dry skin, peeling and formation of cracks in corner of the mouth are signs and symptoms of contact dermatitis (i.e. a rash around the mouth). Other symptoms may vary including:

  • Pain or blistering
  • Bleeding sometimes can occur especially with blistering
  • Oozing
  • Tenderness in skin
  • Itching

Measures for contact dermatitis

The best and recommended methods of treating include reducing exposure to irritants, avoiding allergens or any source suspected to be a cause.

For these measures to be something worth it, the first step is to identify those irritants or allergens. Your dermatologist can also help you out because it is not easy to do it all by yourself. In the course of diagnosis or examination, your physician will direct you on how you are supposed to ensure you have minimized contact with the identified substances.


If you have severe symptoms such as inflammation, redness or pain see your doctor to prescribe topical corticosteroids. Ensure you use these medications as advised or prescribed considering the period of use.

Lip licking (licker’s dermatitis)

Moving on, individuals with lip-licking habit potentially suffer from this inflammatory condition characterized by redness, inflammation, and dryness around the mouth.

The digestive enzymes in the saliva are responsible for causing dryness since they rob the sensitive area of its moisture.


Individuals with this problem do licking more often as an immediate response to avoid the skin around lip from further drying out. Other signs/symptoms include:

  • Small eruptions along the lip skin
  • Redness (this will tend to vary from one person to another)
  • Dry patches with a scaly appearance
  • Soreness


Dry skin (not only) around the mouth can be a symptom of a certain vital nutrient lacking or insufficiency.

Although it is rare, a severe deficiency in Iron or Biotin can cause a dry and flaky skin. Individuals also show signs of cracked skin especially in corners of the mouth.

NOTE: Remember that these are not the only symptoms that indicate a deficiency in the body.

Environmental factors

Other possible causes including on the mouth corners are such as a change in weather such as during winter or when the air becomes dry and hot.

  • Very cold temperatures can cause the lips to look chapped or cause dryness around the mouth because they basically pull the moisture out.
  • Exposure to soap and water. Excessive exposure to harsh soaps can also make your skin dry out easily.
  • Windy weather is another environmental factor that can add up to drying out the skin around mouth

Way forward

Since environmental changes are inevitable, you need to protect yourself against the effects which include dry skin. Thus:

  • Use a humidifier when it is hot only
  • Moisturize your skin around mouth
  • Internal hydration is vital

When red

Most inflammatory skin conditions associated with dryness can potentially cause redness on the skin surface. However, scratching or licking or exposure to direct sunlight can aggravate redness.

A contact dermatitis symptomatic of a rash means you may end up with a red dry skin around the mouth. The areas on the lower face including the chin may be affected by a rash due to contact dermatitis.

  • Different but often confusing conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis can result in a complication of symptoms.
  • Cold infection can also lead to dry nose skin if you wipe often to relieve symptoms
  • Individuals who smoke or drink excessively are at risk than those who don’t
  • Symptoms like itching or inflammation may co-occur. Stop applying creams, lip balms or lipstick.
  • If the symptoms do not improve on their, see a physician to help you identify the possible trigger.

If you have read, dry skin around mouth and nose that recurs or keeps on coming and going, see your doctor

Dry flaky skin

Flaking on dry skin can occur. If you observe small scale-like chips forming around the mouth or under nose you could be facing such a problem. So, what causes dry and flaking skin around the mouth?

From our discussion, the most common factors for flaking on skin surface include perioral dermatitis, severe deficiency, or lip licker’s dermatitis

If you experience dryness around mouth and nose, especially with burning lip sensation see your dermatologist.

Natural remedies

Besides treatment, dealing with dryness around the mouth is as easy as getting used to these simple remedies.

i.  Petroleum jelly

To aid keep in moisture and avoid loss of more of it, dermatologists recommend applying a layer of pure jelly (fragrant-free) such as Vaseline Pure jelly. This remedy will also minimize cracking of the skin.

ii.  Wash gently with cool water

Use running water to the dry and burning skin around your mouth. This remedy will help you soothe inflamed skin. Moreover, the irritants can also be gotten rid of in the process.

iii. Tea tree oil

Apply dilute tea tree oil once to minimize inflammation and help keep infection-causing germs at bay. For safety purposes, if it causes further irritation inform a healthcare provider or ask for advice from a pharmacist.

iv.  Hydration

Try to keep your internal body hydrated. Nutritionists suggest taking lots of fluids to moisten the mouth and help restore the fluids through lost an infection.

Lastly, examine your diet or consider seeing your health provider for proper advice.


If this problem comes with a persisting symptom (cracking, bleeding, blistering, soreness or redness), urgently see your doctor.

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