Thanks to my crappy immune system which overreacts to things it doesn’t need to but still lets the germs in, I’m currently getting over a really bad cold, just in time for hay fever season. Having a nasty chapped nose is pretty normal for me, but I never really managed to work out a way of dealing with it quickly and effectively until recently. Here’s my method, for getting over the evil red flakies ASAP without making it get worse.
Stage 1: Protect
When your skin is raw and inflamed, there’s not much you can do except protect the skin to try to get it to heal faster. I apply moisturiser about 4 or 5 times a day during my sneezy period. My old favourite for this is Nivea Creme, which contains a host of nurturing ingredients like glycerin and lanolin alcohol, as well as hardcore occlusives to seal in moisture like microcrystalline wax and mineral oil. You essentially want something pretty neutral that will help your poor cracked skin keep water from escaping, and protect from bacteria, friction and dry air. A thick cream will stay on for longer – Vaseline and cold cream are also great for this.
I’ve been trying out La Roche-Posay Cicaplast as well, which I purchased in France for this very purpose. The formula contains madecassoside and panthenol, which have been shown to improve wound healing, and some zinc, copper and manganese compounds, which are antibacterial. There are two types – the classic Cicaplast, which is a silicone-rich gel, and Baume B5, which is a thick cream. Annoyingly, I think I like the Baume B5 better, and I only have a tiny sample tube of it. The classic Cicaplast feels like it might work better under make-up, but I’m yet to try that because I avoid make-up around my nose when I get sick (it all gets wiped off with tissues anyway).
Stage 2: Attack
Gently, that is. I don’t even go near it while the skin is still tender at all, but once it feels like there’s solid skin under the leathery exterior and there aren’t any angry pink patches, I give the shedding a little nudge along with some gentle exfoliation.
This is one of the few cases where physical exfoliation is much, much better than chemical exfoliation. Your skin is still pretty fragile at this point so you want to go easy on the low pH chemical exfoliants, which can seep into tiny cracks and sting the crap out of your nose, and you want to avoid any harsh scrubs that will cause more damage and prolong healing time.
I use The Face Shop White Jewel Peeling Gel – peeling gels are some of the gentlest physical exfoliants around. Other gentle exfoliants include konjac sponges and microfiber cloths. I wouldn’t recommend a grainy scrub, and I doubt it would do much good here anyway (be careful of grainy peeling gels as well, like Skinfood Pineapple Peeling Gel).
I take a tiny bit on the pads of my fingers and gently rub it in tiny circles on the rough bits – by gently, I mean I can barely feel my fingers on my skin. Don’t succumb to the temptation to go hard, you’ll regret it when your skin is crusted over for another week. After rinsing, immediately stick more protective cream on it. Repeat twice daily until skin is smooth and happy (it only takes about 2 days for me).
Raw, nasty redness! I wipe my nose very thoroughly so the top of my lips get chapped too and it ends up looking like a cold sore – I think this might’ve only been day 2 of my sickness. Gross.
A few days later, without make-up – my nose was actually recovered a few days before taking this photo (despite still sneezing a fair bit), but I forgot to take photos!
How do you treat your chapped skin? Have you tried either of the Cicaplasts?
Nivea Creme was provided for editorial consideration, which did not affect my opinion. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.