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Perioral dermatitis: symptoms, treatment and prevention

If you're experiencing red spots and swollen patches around your mouth, these symptoms could possibly be greater than dry winter skin and pimples. You can have a skin condition called perioral dermatitis.

What is perioral dermatitis?

Perioral dermatitis (POD), also referred to as perifacial dermatitis, is a typical skin disorder that may occur across the mouth, nose, and eyes. POD is distinct from pimples, rosacea, eczema, and dry skin, although the conditions may share overlapping characteristics.

Symptoms of Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis normally appears as a cluster of small red spots and/or dry red spots on the face. In dark-skinned people, bumps may appear flesh-colored.

As the name suggests, these symptoms normally appear across the mouth, but don't extend to the lips. POD can be seen on the chin, across the nose and eyes, and barely on the ears, neck and scalp. A skin rash could also be accompanied by burning or itching.

In children, the condition may appear as small, firm, yellow or brown spots.

Perioral dermatitis causes and who's in danger.

The explanation for perioral dermatitis is unknown. Certain aspects, resembling skin irritations, which cause the highest layer of skin to interrupt down, can contribute. People with a history of eczema, which interferes with skin barrier function, are at increased risk.

POD occurs in all ages, sexes, and races, but is more common in women ages 16 to 45. It can be more common in individuals who use topical (applied to the skin), oral, or inhaled steroid medications. Other aspects that may contribute to POD flare-ups include:

  • Fluoride toothpaste
  • Heavy skin moisturizers and cosmetic products, or those which can be opaque (create a barrier on the skin that locks in moisture)
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Hormonal fluctuations in women
  • Presence of certain fungi, bacteria or mites on the skin
  • Problems with the balance of bacteria in your skin or together with your immune system.

Is it contagious?

Perioral dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition. It isn't contagious.

Treatment of perioral dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis might be treated with each prescription and over-the-counter products prescribed by your doctor.

The first step in treatment is to stop using any face products or cosmetics which can be irritating, heavy or opaque in your skin. Topical steroids, each prescription and over-the-counter hydrocortisone, aren't really useful. Although steroid creams may provide initial improvement, once discontinued the rash will flare up and worsen.

In some cases, POD resolves by itself without treatment.

Over-the-counter treatments

If you could have perioral dermatitis, attempt to follow a minimal therapy approach to your over-the-counter skincare regimen. This means avoiding potential skin irritants and cosmetics. Stick to fragrance-free, exfoliant-free, gentle face washes and moisturizers. After the condition clears up, you may regularly start reintroducing your skincare products.

In addition to minimal treatment, you may try non-treatments that will help the condition clear up more quickly, resembling:

  • Azelaic acid gel
  • Sulfur-based topical skincare products.


If your perioral dermatitis doesn't improve with over-the-counter techniques, see a dermatologist or other trained physician. He may prescribe topical or oral medications to treat your POD.

A health care provider will normally prescribe topical medications in the shape of lotions, creams, gels or facial cleansers for initial treatment. In more severe cases, or people who don't reply to topical treatments, your doctor may prescribe oral medications.

Examples of medicines your dermatologist may prescribe include:

  • Topical antibiotics including clindamycin, erythromycin, and metronidazole
  • Sulfur-based creams or cleansers
  • Azelaic acid cream or gel
  • Nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory conditions treatments resembling pimecrolimus cream and tacrolimus ointment
  • Oral antibiotics including doxycycline, minocycline, and erythromycin.

Prevention of perioral dermatitis

The best approach to prevent perioral dermatitis is to avoid using skincare products and cosmetics that make your skin feel tight or irritated. Besides that:

  • Minimize or avoid using topical steroids, including hydrocortisone, in your face. If you could have a medical condition that requires using prescription steroid medication, discuss it together with your doctor.
  • Stick to a straightforward skincare regimen that features a gentle face cleanser and moisturizing lotion.
  • Gradually introduce recent skincare products one after the other.

Finally, you may schedule a skin evaluation with a board-certified dermatologist or other trained clinician to debate one of the best products and regimens in your skin type.