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Rough Skin on Face Suddenly? Why and What to Do About It


I tend to freak out when anything goes wrong with my skin. I have super sensitive skin that reacts to virtually any change, and, sadly, my children inherited this trait from me. 

A range of environmental, dietary, and lifestyle circumstances can and will interfere with my otherwise clean and clear skin, and each time they do, I lose my mind. 

After we first moved to Southern Oregon, a much drier climate with hot and cold extremes, from California, a wetter, more tropical environment, I took the kids to the snow. 

My youngest, age 3 at the time, was wearing a snowsuit with clothes underneath. That night, when I helped her get out of the clothes that kept her warm, I gaped at her poor little body riddled with bumps from neck to ankles. 

Tiny skin-colored bumps covered the entire breadth of her skin. She was not in any pain; she had a slight itch, but man, was it horrifying for me to worry over. 

It turns out, for her, it was a simple heat rash that passed after a few days. For the rest of us, rough skin that suddenly appears on the face or anywhere else can be equally horrifying. 

Fortunately, most of the time, the condition is temporary or easily treatable. 

Table of Contents: 

  • What Is Rough Skin that Suddenly Appears on the Face?
  • 5 Causes of Rough Skin that Suddenly Appears on the Face
  • Treatment for and Prevention of Rough Skin
  • Best Products to Use to Keep Skin Soft and Clear

What Is Rough Skin that Suddenly Appears on the Face?

Rough Skin that suddenly appears on the face or on the body is as opposed to rough skin that has always been there. 

Typically, you will wake up to a rough skin patch, or you will notice it as you wash your face or when you emerge from the shower. It can be bumpy, red, or even scaly, or all three. 

Sometimes you will get a small rough patch around your nose or mouth. I have even gotten dry red skin that will become bump if left treated at the corners of my eyes. 

There is also rough skin that suddenly covers your entire face or body, as in the case of my three-year-old. 

rough skin on face

The comforting thing about the sudden appearance of rough skin is that it is usually a reaction to something. 

Once you figure out what that is, or if it is a different condition you must treat, you can begin to treat it. Then, moving forward, you can work to prevent it. 

Rest assured; you are not alone. 

1 in 3 people deal with rough skin at some point in their lives, and more than 50% of people have some level of sensitive skin. 

Now the question is, what is your specific condition?

5 Causes of Rough Skin that Suddenly Appears on the Face

  1. Dry Air

Almost as soon as I moved from California to Southern Oregon, my skin reacted. I have had more eczema flare-ups in the past two years than in my entire life. 

They are not bad, but it is the nature of dry air. It dries out your skin. Even if you do not have an underlying genetic condition like eczema or psoriasis, dry air can cause rough skin. 

  1. Eczema or Psoriasis

Two closely related skin conditions that cause rough skin to appear out of nowhere are eczema and psoriasis. 

Both are genetic, meaning they are in your biological makeup and can lay dormant for years. Often dry air will cause a flare-up, but you can also see a sudden rough patch as a result of lack of sleep or stress. 

See a dermatologist if you think you might have one of these conditions and invest in a good steroid cream for major flare-ups and a non-steroid cream or ointment for minor ones. 

Steroid creams can thin skin, so you do not want to apply too much or too often. 

  1. Hot Water

Just like dry air, too frequent hot baths or hot showers can cause your skin to dry out and lead to rough patches.

 I love a good hot bath, especially during the cold fall and winter seasons. But combined with the cold, dry air here, my skin flares up quickly if I forget to add back in extra moisture through drinking water and applying a cream or body butter. 

  1. Gluten or Other Dietary Issues

I have a cousin who suffered from painful rough, dry skin for years before she realized she had a gluten sensitivity. 

If you have recently eaten new food, your skin may be revealing a sensitivity to it through rough skin. 

Also, if you have recently undergone a hormonal change, like pregnancy or menopause, you could have developed a new food sensitivity. Check your diet and your shelves. 

  1. Smoking

Smoking is the leading cause of environment-related dry skin. It dries out your skin so much that it causes fine lines and wrinkles to appear prematurely. 

If you recently started smoking and notice your skin getting dry and rough, it is time to stop. Well, it is time to stop, no matter what.

Treatment for and Prevention of Rough Skin

Now you know what may have caused the rough skin, how do you treat it? 

First, consider seeing a dermatologist if this issue is ongoing. If you have noticed several times now the sudden appearance of rough skin on your face, get help. 

You may need a strong cream to get rid of it and even some clinical soaps to prevent it from reappearing. 

face wash, washing face

The biggest thing that has helped me battle the appearance of rough skin has been using a fragrance-free sensitive skin soap. I prefer Dove. 

Next, I only use products on my skin that are all-natural, and plant based. I apply virgin coconut oil after my shower, and all of my makeup products are plant-based. 

Keep hot showers and baths to a minimum, especially during harsh, cold winters. Moisturize directly after your shower or after you wash your face. You want to lock in moisture, so you do not give rough skin a chance to take hold. 

Finally, make sure you are drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy diet. And quit smoking!

Best Products to Use to Keep Skin Soft and Clear

Below you will find links to products that will keep you in a routine to avoid rough skin on your face.

Face Wash

So many great ingredients here to choose from, as well as foaming washes with a brush included. All will help keep your skin clean and hydrated.

Ubtan Face and Body Scrub

A great exfoliant for gently removing scaly patches on your face and body, Ubtan will go well with your wash and cream. 

Ubtan Face & Body Scrub

Face Cream and Gel

Choose from two hydrating face creams and one gel. Each boasts moisture-rich ingredients you cannot help but love. 

You will have a range of products to explore at each link above. Take your time and invest in what feels good to you.

Shanna Mendez

Shanna Mathews Mendez is a freelance writer and blogger on topics related to self-care, naturopathy, female empowerment, and motherhood. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children, where she enjoys traveling, being active outdoors, and studying herbalism and plant-based remedies in her free time. Drawing on her graduate degree in comparative literature and her own life experiences, she is currently writing her first book. She can be found online at her website

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