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How to Smooth Out Rough Skin on Your Face

Exfoliating can help smooth out rough skin.
Exfoliating can help smooth out rough skin.

Rough, scaly, sandpaper-like skin is bad enough on the elbows, knees, hands and feet. When it shows up on your face, though, you may feel like going into hiding. Not only does the redness make you look perpetually embarrassed, but the pain, itchiness and flaking are also enough to drive you mad.

In many cases, a rough complexion is the result of dryness, also known by the fancier term "xerosis." Low humidity levels, sun exposure, harsh soaps, acne treatments and other abrasive factors degrade the skin's natural moisture barrier, leading to peeling, irritation and cracks.

Rough skin can also be the symptom of numerous chronic and acute skin conditions. Some of the most widespread problems include:

  • Eczema: Also called dermatitis, eczema causes itchiness, redness, scaling and oozing. Flare-ups are often triggered by allergens and irritants, including dust, chemicals and foods [source: WebMD].
  • Rosacea: This common skin disease can lead to redness, swelling, visible blood vessels, bumps and acne-like breakouts. Rosacea's root cause is unknown, but there may be a genetic component [source: American Academy of Dermatology].
  • Psoriasis: The result of an overactive immune system, psoriasis produces red papules that form thick, red, scaly patches. It tends to first appear during early adulthood [source: MedicineNet].
  • Keratosis pilaris: Sometimes called "chicken skin," keratosis pilaris is characterized by tiny bumps that usually develop on the upper arms, thighs and face. It is likely caused by excess amounts of keratin, a protein that makes up the skin's outer layer [source: Wicker].
  • Actinic keratosis: Caused by exposure to sunlight, actinic keratosis begins as a rough, raised area and becomes a hard growth. It sometimes develops into squamous cell skin cancer, so be sure to have a doctor take a look [source: MedlinePlus].

Whether dryness or another condition is responsible, there are steps you can take to prevent, soothe and smooth rough skin on your face. Keep reading to find out more.