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Extremely Dry Cheeks

Overview

If you have sensitive skin, your cheeks often chap easily and become irritated by skin care products. This condition can get worse when you step outside into the cold or spend all day cooped up in central heating. Facial skin is sensitive and prone to dryness, and if you are predisposed to dry skin, contributing irritants can make this worse. Skin conditions characterized by flaking can also cause extremely dry cheeks, and a dermatologist can help you find the proper treatments.

Symptoms

Aside from flaking and itching, extremely dry cheeks may feel tight, particularly right after you wash your face. Your dry skin has a rough and bumpy texture, and your skin tone may look ruddy or uneven. Wrinkles and fine lines also appear more prominent on dry skin. If left untreated, your dry cheeks may begin to crack or bleed.

Causes

When your skin is robbed of its natural oils, it gets dried out. Washing your face with hot water, using soap or alcohol-based products, and failing to apply moisturizer all rob your skin of the hydration it needs. Harsh climates and low humidity also contribute to dry cheeks. If your skin is red and itchy in addition to being dry, dermatitis or eczema are the likely causes. These are lifelong conditions with symptoms that vary over time, and while they cannot be cured, you can take steps to help control these conditions.

Treatment

Use tepid or lukewarm water to wash your face twice a day, and apply a mild, moisturizing cleanser, advises the American Academy of Dermatology. Avoid face washes that contain alcohol, soap, fragrances or ingredients used to treat acne, such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which can exacerbate dryness. Moisturize your cheeks immediately after you wash them to help hydrate your skin and replenish lost oils, and cover your face with a scarf when you go outside in harsh weather. If your dry skin is severe, talk to a dermatologist about prescription treatments, such as topical steroids, which can reduce inflammation and flaking, notes the New Zealand Dermatological Society.

Considerations

No single skin product works for everyone, and you may need to try several cleansers and moisturizers before you find the one that works best for your dry cheeks. If you wear makeup, apply products with added moisturizers to give your skin an extra dose of hydration. Look for oil-based products, which form a barrier on your skin and keep moisture in longer.

Warnings

Do not peel off any flaking skin, as doing so can lead to an infection or scarring. If your skin begins to crack or bleed, seek medical attention. Likewise, if your cheeks become suddenly and severely dry, talk to a doctor who can determine if you have an underlying condition.

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