Perioral Dermatitis

What is Perioral Dermatitis?

Perioral dermatitis is a rash that usually is around the mouth. It can be scaly, dry, itchy and bumpy.  Small papules about 1 to 2 mm in diameter will form. They may or may not be filled with pus. It can spread up to the nose. It happens more in woman, ages 20 to 45, with it being rare in men and children.  Ninety percent of all cases are reported by young woman, often those who are menstruating. It can flare up and then go away, only to return months or even years later. Many skin diseases resemble perioral dermatitis, including rosacea, acne vulgaris, allergic contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, and irritant contact dermatitis.

Perioral dermatitis Symptoms

Symptoms of perioral dermatitis include redness on the skin, which can also appear to be pink. Some will have peeling skin, which gives the skin a scaly appearance. Many have reported having very taut skin, with the skin around the mouth being dry. A mild burning or itching sensation may take place.  There are often rashes when the perioral dermatitis flares up that are painful and lumpy. The rashes could also be pain free.


Perioral Dermatitis Causes

The exact cause of perioral dermatitis is not known, however, it can be caused by extended use of topical steroid creams, as well as inhaled prescription steroid sprays that are used in the nose and the mouth. Moisturisers and heavy face creams can be another culprit, as can fluoride toothpastes, rosacea, and skin irritations. Bacterial or fungal infections can also trigger perioral dermatitis, as well as using sunscreen and taking oral contraceptives. Cosmetics that have a heavy base of petrolatum or a paraffin base may make the condition worse. Some even suggest that the diet plays in a role in perioral dermatitis.

A doctor will be able to diagnose perioral dermatitis. There is not any testing that is required. However, a culture of the skin may be taken just to double check for any skin infections. A small piece of the skin will be taken, and sent to a laboratory for further examination.

Perioral Dermatitis Treatment

To treat perioral dermatitis, one should stop using any steroid medications that are applied topically on the face. Heavy creams and moisturisers should not be used. Your doctor might prescribe oral antibiotics, such as metronidazole, for as long as 6 to 12 weeks. Immunosuppressive creams can be prescribed, as can topical anti-acne medications. For more severe cases, doxycycline or other oral antibiotics can be given

Perioral Dermatitis Prevention

There are a few steps that one can take to prevent perioral dermatitis. One should avoid all steroid creams on the face unless directed to use by their doctor. Always let any new doctor you see know that you have perioral dermatitis. Do not use heavy creams on the face. Should you feel the need to moisturise the skin, ask your dermatologist which creams are suitable for perioral dermatitis. Protect the skin from UV rays with a sunscreen and limit the time that your sun is exposed to the sun daily.  Wind, heat and UV rays can aggravate the skin, causing a perioral dermatitis flare up, so avoid these elements at all costs. Also, use toothpaste that does not contain fluoride.

Some home remedies that we have heard from some have had success with in treating perioral dermatitis include using honey masks on the face. Apply honey to a clean face, let set for 10 minutes and then rinse well. It is antibacterial properties will cleanse the skin, and it is safe and gentle enough to be used daily. Coconut oil can also be used on the rash. Coconut oil has antibacterial properties as well, and will also help to moisturize any dry skin around the rash.



10 replies
  1. Soreal
    Soreal says:

    My niece has perioral dermatitis. All around her mouth she is broken out. She was just diagnosed with it two weeks ago. My sister was floored that it could have been caused by fluoride My niece is 14 and is at that age where she is very self conscious anyways. I will be sure to share this article with her as there are some good tips here. My niece has been using a special toothpaste without fluoride in it, and while it has helped a bit, she still seems to be all broke out. She is very active outdoors, from swimming and softball in the summer, to helping on the farm. She could very well be exposed to elements too much as well. I really hope some of these tips help her as she is just at her wits end and with school starting soon, she is not even looking forward to going back as she knows how cruel others can be.

    • Hannah Persons
      Hannah Persons says:

      It is my understanding that grains and gluten make it flare too.
      I use cetaphil face cleanser, prescribed ‘metronidazole topical cream’ and then the cetaphil dry skin moisturizer.
      next, when I will be in the sun AT ALL I apply a delicate layer of Aveeno hypoallergenic sunscreen 30.
      I keep hypoallergenic cleansing pads with me to clean in mid day and reapply the cream prescribed by the dermatologist.
      Tom’s toothpaste of course
      But I love grains! LOL
      Hope this helps.
      Ps. tell your skin everyday that it is clear and beautiful!

  2. Ludacris
    Ludacris says:

    I was diagnosed with perioral dermatitis about three years ago. My doctor just did a skin exam and then said that I had it. He gave me some oral antibiotics that I was on for 12 weeks. Plus he did a skin biopsy to see if the skin was further infected, which luckily it was not. I started washing my face with a very gentle face wash. I switched to a toothpaste that does not contain any fluoride in it and also take extreme measures to limit myself out in harsh elements, such as the sun or the wind. Some also say that diet plays a role in perioral dermatitis. I have cut all dairy out of my diet, as well as gluten. I have seen some improvement there. I feel that it did help my skin clear up a bit, and I have continued to eat this way. Some also say adapting a low carb diet will help.

    • Abid Ali
      Abid Ali says:

      Hey.. ! I was diagnosed for scalp psoriasis and perioral dermatitis at the same time.. Scalp psoriasis has been eradicated but perioral dermatitis is still destroying out my face skin. I have used more than 15 creams but these rashes reappear again and again after i stop my medications. Can You tell me about the antibiotics names your Doctor prescribed for 12 weeks.. May be that can work a little bit better.

  3. Sandrica
    Sandrica says:

    I use coconut oil on my perioral dermatitis and think that it does a wonderful job on it. I love the fact that coconut oil is all natural and that it helps to clear up the skin around my mouth. I dab some on every few hours when I have a bad flare up. It does have the antibacterial properties that work so well on my face. I would recommend it to everyone who have perioral dermatitis.

  4. Thank you!!!
    Thank you!!! says:

    What a great article on perioral dermatitis. Growing up, both me and my sister had a rash around our mouths. We had been at the doctor several times for it, but I do not ever remember it having a name. However, it sounds just like perioral dermatitis. We both found out we were allergic to fluoride. I was more so than her. Our rashes looked awful. It happened when I was in 1st grade, and she would have just been in preschool. It really looked like acne around the mouth. Even in 1st grade, kids were so mean to me. I would never want to relive that again. I have since outgrown it, but always have a fear in me that it will one day return. I am careful of the toothpastes that I use, and I never allowed myself a fluoride treatment when I went to the dentist. Each time they would go to give me one I would have to say I am allergic to fluoride. Then they would proceed to say I have never heard anyone that is allergic to fluoride. I guess now I have a name for it, so I can start telling them what it is. I am so glad that I found this article as it really gives insight to what my sister and I had growing up twenty five years ago.

  5. Ulta
    Ulta says:

    I am 48 and have had severe perorial dermatitis several times. The only way to get rid of it is to dry it out with Aloe Vera gel or Braggs raw apple cider vinegar ( which is more harsh). Don’t waste your money on oils or creams, as you are just feeding it. You must dry it out for a few days, once it scabs up, it clears up… Trust me. It’s frustrating to be so dry… But it works. Cheapest treatments are the best. Once gone, Then deal with the dryness. Do not cover in makeup, leave it to breathe. I have been battling my current bout since July and it’s now October and didn’t take my own advice, instead I fed it with coconut oil and all kinds of creams. I used everything and nothing works. In the health food shop, the lady told me to use Aloe Vera… And it’s working so far. 3 days and it’s almost gone, not red anymore.

  6. Amber Bell
    Amber Bell says:

    Cut out all soap that contains sodium laurel sulfate. Sunscreen aggravates mine. Plexus body cream is the only moisturiser I have found that doesn’t make it worse.

  7. Dee
    Dee says:

    TRY ZINC! Mine flared up during pregnancy so i couldnt do much about it. That was until i bought a tub of Sudocrem in preparation for the baby and thought i would give it a go, it looked and felt so terrible by that stage i figured it couldnt hurt. BUT IT WORKED! I applied topically at night and the itching and burning settled. Within a few days the redness faded too! I havent had it since (going 10 months now!) i am so relieved


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