Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral Dermatitis Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Have you noticed red spots around your mouth and chin? Has it been months and they are not going away or migrating to your eye and forehead?

If you normally have clear skin, it can be perplexing to pinpoint what is causing the unsightly red spots that look like acne or a rash.

Perioral dermatitis could be the culprit, and it requires medical treatment by a dermatologist.

What is perioral dermatitis?

Perioral dermatitis is relatively unknown compared to eczema and acne, so Google searches and self-diagnosis may lead you astray. One hallmark of perioral dermatitis is that red bumps develop on the lower half of your face, typically around your mouth. Hence the name: Peri means around and oral relates to the mouth.

The rash often looks like small, red, acne-like breakouts. The condition is most common in women ages 16 to 45, but it can affect men as well. The unsightly skin condition can be persistent, even moving to different parts of your face, but it is not contagious.

Other signs and symptoms:

  • Bumps forming a ring around the mouth
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Bumps that are red or pink
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Can move to eyes, nose and even the genitals
  • Can come and go for months or years
What causes perioral dermatitis?

Doctors aren’t totally sure what causes the condition. Researchers think it may relate to the overuse of topical corticosteroids. Some possible triggers include:

  • Prolonged use of topical steroid creams
  • Steroid sprays and inhalers used in the nose and the mouth
  • Overuse of heavy face creams, moisturizers, and makeup
  • Using a new skincare product that causes irritation or an allergic reaction
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fluoride toothpaste
  • Stress and lack of sleep
  • Hormonal changes or taking birth control pills
  • Other allergens and skin conditions

A visit to a doctor or dermatologist is needed to get the right diagnosis. A dermatologist usually makes a diagnosis based on how the rash looks and behaves and other details gathered during the office visit. They may order a culture for bacteria to eliminate the possibility of infection.

Treatment options

You may be tempted to try over-the-counter creams or hydrocortisone cream, or even samples of a product you previously got from your dermatologist. Tell your doctor what you have been putting on the rash, especially if it has been several months or weeks of trying at-home remedies. Sometimes, that can make it worse. Perioral dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin. Do less, use simple products, and give your skin some TLC.

Treatment recommendations include:

  • Oral and topical antibiotics, or a combination of them, for 6 to 12 weeks
  • Discontinue the use of all topical corticosteroids, including hydrocortisone cream, or discuss alternative options with your doctor
  • Stop using soaps, creams, or makeup that could be associated with an outbreak, especially if you noticed the rash after trying a new product
  • Change your skin care routine by using gentle and fragrance-free cleansers and moisturizers
  • Avoid scrubbing your face, itching or picking at the rash
  • Gently pat your skin dry, try to avoid further irritation
  • Limit or avoid sun exposure
  • Avoid fluoride toothpaste
  • Avoid inflammatory foods
  • Use coconut oil as a skin moisturizer

The good news is perioral dermatitis is treatable. It can take several weeks or a couple of months for your skin to clear up. Follow your doctor’s orders and finish all antibiotic treatments. As long as you avoid whatever initially caused the dermatitis, the rash should disappear for good. Cases that do come back can turn into rosacea.

Every case of perioral dermatitis is unique. It can be frustrating – even depressing – if it persists. If you have a rash that isn’t going away, it is important to see your dermatologist and get to the bottom of what is going on. Left untreated, the bumps can get worse or spread or become more stubborn to treat.

When your skin is showing signs of distress, don’t dismiss it! Once you have successfully treated perioral dermatitis, stay vigilant, avoid potential triggers, and try to keep your body and skin in balance.

APDerm offers a variety of medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology services backed by a team of skincare experts. Highly trained board-certified dermatologists provide professional, individualized care and are dedicated to addressing your skincare concerns. Contact APDerm today if you are concerned about perioral dermatitis or other persistent skin problems.