Skin Irritation on Nose From Glasses: Causes and Quick Fixes

We know how you feel: You’re looking super cute in your new pair of glasses, you keep checking your reflection to get another peek at those fabulous frames, and suddenly you notice little red marks around your nose. Gasp! You’ve got to get a handle on the skin irritation on your nose from glasses — before it ruins your style (not to mention, your day).

However, we wear glasses because we need them to see. So, we can’t ditch our eyewear when the bridge of our nose gets irritated. Instead, we’re going to need a little extra care to fix the problem.

Find out what causes skin irritation on the nose from glasses, what you can do about it, and when you should head to the eye doctor or dermatologist. Here’s how to handle this irritating problem.

Signs of Skin Irritation on the Nose From Glasses

Skin irritation on nose from glasses: A woman touching her nose with eyes closed

Most of the signs of skin irritation are visible to the naked eye (or the bespectacled eye, depending on your vision). But sometimes you can feel skin irritation coming on before you can see it. Here's what skin irritation on the nose from your glasses typically looks and feels like:

  • Itchiness 

  • Soreness 

  • Redness 

  • Indentations on the skin

  • Blisters on the skin

  • Raised bumps or cysts under the skin

  • New blackheads or whiteheads

These signs usually appear anywhere that your glasses touch your skin, including the bridge of your nose, behind your ears, and maybe even on your cheeks if you have oversized glasses.

What Causes Skin Irritation on the Nose From Glasses?

It’s common to see splotches of red, itchy skin and think allergies. While that’s one possible cause of skin irritation on your nose from glasses, it’s the least likely option. Here are the three main causes of those skin symptoms, starting with the two more likely (and less troublesome) possibilities.

1. Friction

If your glasses frames aren’t properly fitted, they can rub on the bridge of the nose and cause redness, or they can squeeze too tightly and leave indentations on the skin. This rubbing creates bigger problems for people with sensitive skin or pre-existing skin conditions like eczema.

If your skin is already bothered by something else, it can make the friction from your glasses more likely to cause skin irritation. For example, if you wore tight goggles during a lap-swimming session, putting your glasses on afterwards can lead to more irritation. And if you live somewhere with harsh winters, your skin may become dry and chapped from the weather, and then be more easily irritated by the rubbing of your glasses.

Friction is a common reason for both new and long-term glasses wearers to suddenly start seeing signs of skin irritation on their nose.

2. Dirt and Oil

Because you spend most of every day with your glasses on your face — pressed up against the same spot on the bridge of your nose — dirt and oil can get trapped there. These icky substances build up in the spot between your skin and your eyeglass frames, especially if your skin or frames don’t get cleaned often enough.

Once they build up on your skin, dirt and oil can turn into blackheads, whiteheads, or painful cystic acne. If this is the source of the skin irritation on your nose, then you may notice frequent breakouts in the areas where your glasses touch your skin.

In very rare cases, it can also lead to acanthoma fissuratum, a hard nodule that forms under the skin in the places where it touches your glasses. Dermatologists believe this condition is often caused by too much dirt and oil buildup.

3. Allergies

There are many materials in glasses that can trigger an allergic reaction — from the frame and nose pad materials, like plastic, metal, and silicone, to chemicals used in the manufacturing process, such as solvents, dyes, and stabilizers. But, allergies to these materials are rare, with the exception of nickel allergies.

Nickel sometimes lurks in metal glasses frames. It’s one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis in the United States and can lead to red, itchy skin with possible hives or blisters in the places where the allergen comes in contact with your skin — including across the bridge of your nose.

What Can You Do About Skin Irritation on the Nose From Glasses?

A man avoids skin irritation on nose from glasses by applying moisturizer while looking in the mirror.

Skin irritation on the nose from glasses is annoying, but it’s usually easy to ditch that itch (or redness). Here are six things to try, starting with a few easy home interventions.

1. Clean Your Glasses (and Skin) More Often

Since a little dirt and oil can lead to big problems, let’s nip it in the bud. Wash your glasses and your face regularly to prevent buildup. Twice a day, use a gentle, oil-free cleanser on your face so you don’t cause further skin irritation.

Clean your glasses with dish soap at least once a week to keep them sparkling (kind of like our favorite line of Sparkle Top Frames). Use your fingers to rub the soap over your lenses and frames. Don’t use a sponge because it could scratch the lenses. Next, rinse your glasses with warm water and dry them with a microfiber cloth.

Voilà! Your pair will be just like new.

2. Add a Little Extra Skincare

While we’re taking care of our pretty faces, let’s add a little moisturizer to our daily routine. A face lotion can soothe skin that’s overly dry or has already been irritated by outside forces. This will make your skin more resilient in the face of friction from your glasses. You can also apply a little lip balm in the spots where your glasses come in contact with your skin. The waxes in lip balm help create a protective barrier on your skin.

3. Check Your Fit

Often frames rub when they’re too loose or too tight on your face. The best way to reduce friction is to get a better-fitting pair of eyeglasses. If you aren’t due for an eye exam, then you don’t need to see an optometrist. You can talk to the optician instead. Opticians aren’t eye doctors, but they’re medical professionals who are experts in fitting glasses frames.

An optician can adjust your current frames to make them fit better, or they can help you find frames that are a better size for your face.

4. Choose a Lighter Pair

If your frames are too heavy, then they’ll put extra pressure on the bridge of your nose and anywhere else they touch. This can leave indentations on your skin and contribute to the friction that causes irritation.

Lighten up by choosing lightweight acetate frames. If you have thick, heavy lenses, you can upgrade to high-index lenses that give you the same vision correction from thinner lenses. This upgrade may cost more, but it can make your glasses weigh a lot less.

5. Try a Different Material

To determine whether skin allergies are responsible for your symptoms, try switching to a pair of glasses with a different frame material. If you currently have metal frames, switch to plastic frames that don’t contain nickel, stainless steel, or other materials that can cause allergic contact dermatitis. Luckily, Pair Eyewear’s Base Frames are made from hand-polished cellulose acetate, so you can avoid any potential problems with metal. 

6. Contact a Dermatologist

If you try all of these techniques and your skin irritation still doesn’t clear up, it might be time to see a dermatologist for more help.

Buh Bye, Skin Irritation — Hello, Style!

A variety of green, pink, blue, red, and yellow glasses on colorful backgrounds.

Don’t let red, itchy skin cramp your style. If you’ve got skin irritation on your nose from glasses, then it’s time to find out why.

Friction and the buildup of dirt and oil are the two most common causes of skin irritation from glasses. You can address them by adding a few extra steps to your skincare routine (cleanser plus moisturizer will give you a happy face).

You can also reduce irritation by trying on a new pair of glasses that fits you better. And if you’re worried that you’re allergic to your current frames, a switch-up could be just what you need. Try a new pair of glasses in a completely new frame material. Pair Eyewear offers dozens of customizable eyeglasses so you can find the right fit for your face and style!