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Expert Perioral Dermatitis Doctor at Dermatology and Skin Health

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A close up of a woman with a red rash on her face.

What is Perioral Dermatitis? 

Perioral dermatitis is a common skin condition that mostly affects young women who use face creams, moisturizers, and topical steroid products. However, men and children may also occasionally develop this inflammatory skin disorder. 

The word perioral literally means around (peri) the mouth (oral) which refers to the common areas affected by this skin problem. Dermatitis is a general term that describes the irritation and redness of the skin. This condition is also sometimes referred to as periorificial dermatitis which means around an opening or orifice. 

If you have perioral dermatitis, you’d normally see small red bumps, mild peeling, and pus bumps around the mouth, nose, lips, and even the chin. The areas around the eyes and cheeks may also sometimes be affected. This skin disease can look a lot like acne, although its symptoms can be accompanied by mild itchy skin or a burning sensation. 

Symptoms of Perioral Dermatitis  

Perioral dermatitis usually begins as small rashes or acne-like spots on the skin around the mouth and nose. Additionally, you can notice inflamed or swollen bumps which are called papules. 

You may also develop vesicles or skin blisters that contain clear fluids. In some cases, you may have pustules which are tiny bumps that have yellowish pus and closely resemble a large pimple. 

Often, the areas surrounding the bumps have dry, reddish, and scaly skin. The rashes aren’t particularly painful, but they may have an uncomfortable itching or burning sensation. When the bumps are close to each other, your skin’s surface will appear lumpy and feel rough to touch. 

When perioral dermatitis develops around the eyes, it can be sometimes accompanied by conjunctivitis or pink eye. This condition is caused by the inflammation or infection of the tissue that lines the surface of your eyelid. 

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At Dermatology & Skin Health, we offer world-class services done by award-winning doctors who have proven their knowledge and skills in this field. Start your journey towards achieving your best skin by contacting us today.

What Causes Perioral Dermatitis? 

It’s unclear what exactly causes perioral dermatitis. Some dermatologists believe that it’s a form of acne, eczema, rosacea, or seborrheic dermatitis worsened by sunlight. It’s possible that this condition occurs due to a problem in the skin barrier function. The skin barrier is the top layer that protects against harmful irritants and toxins that may damage the skin. 

When the skin barrier is not working properly, external factors like UV exposure, environmental pollution, and the use of topical face products may lead to perioral dermatitis. Some of the common factors that may trigger a perioral dermatitis breakout are:

  • Topical corticosteroid creams 
  • Prescription steroid spray or oral inhaler 
  • Heavy cosmetic products
  • Excessive application of moisturizer, cleansers, or acids on the skin 
  • Use of sunscreen
  • Toothpaste with fluoride 
  • Skin infection 
  • Immune system problems
  • Hormonal changes from menstruation or use of oral contraceptives
  • Stress
  • Chewing gum
  • Frequent wearing of masks which encourages the development of ‘maskne’ 

How to Distinguish Perioral Dermatitis from Other Inflammatory Facial Skin Disorders

The characteristics and appearance of perioral dermatitis may be confused with other skin conditions. Getting an accurate diagnosis to differentiate your condition is important to get the right medical treatment. Here are the other diseases that may look like perioral dermatitis and have similar symptoms:


This is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes facial redness or blushing. Some people who have rosacea may develop small, swollen bumps that are filled with pus. Most of the symptoms of rosacea are usually visible on the upper half of the face such as the forehead and nose, while those of perioral dermatitis is typically located around the mouth. 

Those who have rosacea may also have perioral dermatitis at the same time. Additionally, it’s possible for perioral dermatitis to return and become rosacea especially if you’ve previously had it. 

Contact Dermatitis 

The red rashes from contact dermatitis usually appear after having direct contact with an allergen or skin irritant. Most of the time, the symptoms of contact dermatitis are limited to the area that was exposed to the substance. The most common affected areas are the hands, legs, and feet.

Seborrhoeic Dermatitis

This inflammatory skin disorder particularly affects the scalp and can cause flaky skin and dandruff. It may also occur on the areas that are usually oily such as the eyebrows, ears, eyelids, and nose. 

Acne Vulgaris

This condition happens when hair follicles are blocked and causes an excess buildup of dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. This often leads to the appearance of pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads on the face. Unlike perioral dermatitis, acne spots appear bigger and they can form deep comedones. 

Discoid Lupus 

This is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause cold sores, inflamed round lesions, mild peeling, and scaly skin. The most common affected areas are the neck, ears, face, scalp, and feet. 

Granulomatous Perioral Dermatitis

This is a subtype of perioral dermatitis that’s more common among children. Its symptoms usually appear as yellow-brown papules that are found around the mouth, nose, and sometimes eyes. 

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Dermatology & Skin Health

At Dermatology & Skin Health, our excellent dermatology services are guaranteed to be safe and effective, performed by the top doctors in their respective fields. Treat your skin problems by contacting us today.


Are Lab Tests Needed to Diagnose Perioral Dermatitis? 

In most cases, tests are not necessary to diagnose perioral dermatitis. A dermatologist can usually make an accurate diagnosis by simply examining the affected skin. Sometimes, scraping or a biopsy is performed to distinguish it from atopic dermatitis and other skin conditions. A blood test may also be done to eliminate other diseases that can look similar. 

Best Perioral Dermatitis Treatment Options

Although it’s not a particularly harmful condition, the symptoms of perioral dermatitis can persist for months or years if left untreated. Proper skincare and management are required to improve your rashes and reduce the occurrence of flare-ups. Here are some of the recommended treatment options for perioral dermatitis: 

Topical Medications 

A dermatologist may prescribe the use of topical medications to help control perioral dermatitis. Depending on the severity of your skin condition, you may need to use the topical medications for 6 to 12 weeks or until its symptoms get better. The most common topical antibiotic treatments are: 

  • Erythromycin gel
  • Metronidazole cream 
  • Azelaic acid 
  • Tacrolimus ointment 
  • Clindamycin lotion 
  • Pimecrolimus cream
  • Isotretinoin
  • Topical ivermectin 

Oral Medications

If you have severe perioral dermatitis, oral antibiotics may be an effective treatment to help manage skin inflammation. Some of the oral medications that you may need to take are: 

  • Tetracycline 
  • Minocycline 
  • Doxycycline 
  • Low-dose isotretinoin
  • Oral erythromycin

What Can Be Expected With The Treatment?

There’s no set timeline on when the skin clears after starting treatment. It can take weeks to months for the skin condition to improve. Some patients notice an improvement within two months of taking oral antibiotic medicines. 

If a topical steroid cream was recommended by your dermatologist, it’s important to stick with your treatment plan. Regular use of these treatments can help lessen the breakouts of perioral dermatitis. However, your rashes may return if you stop the applications of these creams.

Is There A Way To Prevent Perioral Dermatitis?

There are no medicines that can completely stop and prevent perioral dermatitis. Since it’s a chronic skin inflammation disorder, its symptoms may disappear and return from time to time. The only way to manage this condition is to know and avoid what causes it. 

Schedule Your Consultation Now at Dermatology & Skin Health

At Dermatology & Skin Health, we offer world-class services done by award-winning doctors who have proven their knowledge and skills in this field. Start your journey towards achieving your best skin by contacting us today.

Tips to Reduce Your Risk for Getting Perioral Dermatitis 

Certain lifestyle modifications can help prevent the flare-ups of perioral dermatitis. Here are some of the best tips that can help improve skin health and reduce your risk for perioral dermatitis: 

  • Avoid putting strong corticosteroid creams and topical steroids on the face. 
  • Change your skincare routine and use mild cleansers and light moisturizers. 
  • Minimize the use of exfoliating products such as acids, peels, and masks. 
  • Don’t apply thick layers of sunblock, makeup, and other facial creams. Let your skin breathe every once in a while to manage perioral dermatitis. 
  • Wash and clean your face with warm water until the rash clears. 
  • Limit the use of heavy cosmetics even after the rashes have disappeared. 
  • Switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste and avoid those with cinnamon flavoring or tartar control ingredients. 
  • Avoid eating too much spicy or salty food since it can irritate your skin around the mouth. 
  • Wash your dirty bed linens, pillowcases, and towels with hot water frequently. 

How Long Does The Condition Last? 

Perioral dermatitis may last for months to several years without proper skin treatment and management. The topical and oral medications can help improve its symptoms, although it is possible that the condition will recur.  

What Are the Possible Long-Term Complications of Perioral Dermatitis? 

For mild cases of perioral dermatitis, the rashes can clear up permanently with the help of topical and oral treatments. However, if you don’t follow proper skin care practices, the symptoms will reappear over time. 

Recurring perioral dermatitis may lead to persistent inflammation and cause acne scarring and skin discoloration in the affected areas. Some cases of perioral dermatitis may also return and develop into rosacea. 

Can It Be Contagious? 

The good thing about perioral dermatitis is that it is not contagious. Almost all types of dermatitis are not harmful and cannot be spread from one person to another. However, it is important to know your potential triggers to avoid having active perioral dermatitis. 

Schedule Your Consultation Now at
Dermatology & Skin Health

At Dermatology & Skin Health, our excellent dermatology services are guaranteed to be safe and effective, performed by the top doctors in their respective fields. Treat your skin problems by contacting us today.


Contact Our Perioral Dermatitis Specialist Today and Improve Your Skin Health

If you have itchy rashes and reddish bumpy skin that’s making you feel self-conscious, call us and book your consultation at Dermatologist and Skin Health today. Our board-certified dermatologists can help provide a thorough diagnosis and recommend the best treatments to manage or treat your condition fully. We can also give medical advice on how to keep your skin clear and in good condition. 

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