Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral Dermatitis

The skin is the biggest organ on the body.  It protects us from outside bacteria, and viruses that are flying around the world.  The downside is that a lot can happen to the skin since it is so big.  Such as dryness, oily skin, and dermatitis.  Dermatitis is the term given to just generic skin inflammation.  There are lots of different types of dermatitis, some that are more common than others.  Perioral dermatitis is a less common type of dermatitis.  It only affects about 200,000 US people per year.  In comparison eczema affects about 15 million Americans.

What is perioral dermatitis?


Perioral dermatitis is a rash that occurs around the mouth, nose, and even sometimes the eyes. The rash looks like a scaly, red, and bumpy rash.  It can occur in both men and women, though it seems that women are at a higher risk of getting this rash.  Almost 90% of cases are women.  The horrible thing about perioral dermatitis is that the cause of this dermatitis is unknown.  There may be some environmental things that can play a factor on if you get it, but the underlying reason of why it happens is unknown.  Perioral dermatitis can start around the nose, mouth and even move its way up  to the eyes.  What area of the face it affects depends on the person, and the severity of the rash.  Some people may experience it only in one area, while others may have it in multiple.


Diagnosis & Symptoms  


Perioral dermatitis can usually be diagnosed through a physical exam.  Symptoms that occur with the rash are bumps are the mouth, nose, eyes, sometimes there can be a burning sensation, itching, bumps may look like acne, and in extreme cases the bumps can contain pus or fluids.  Your doctor in some cases may want to take a culture from the bumps to see what kind of bacteria there may be.  In some cases the perioral dermatitis can become infected.  This causes the rash to become fluid or pus filled.  You will want to reach out to your doctor if this becomes the case with your rash. 


Causes & Complications


Though the rash may be easy to diagnose, it can be chronic and very difficult to heal or even maintain.  Some people have flare ups where their rash is present for sometime, goes away for a period of time, and then may come back.  Some factors that show to play a role in someone getting perioral dermatitis are hormonal imbalances, using topical steroid creams, birth control pills, constant drooling, and allergies to toothpastes or skin care products.  If you notice a rash breaking out around your mouth and nose make sure you stop using any topical steroid creams or even nasal steroid sprays.  Even the type of toothpaste you are using can cause a flare up in perioral dermatitis.  It may take some time to see what is really causing your perioral dermatitis if you are using multiple skin care products or even narrowing it down between skin care products and imbalanced hormones.  Some people can live their whole lives without the rash, but as soon as they become pregnant will end up having the rash.  It is hard to say if this is because of the increase of hormones your body is producing, in most people the rash doesn’t go away entirely after they are no longer pregnant, the rash just isn’t as prominent. 




Perioral dermatitis is hard to find the reason why it occurs than can be hard to get rid of or at least lessen the symptoms.  There isn’t much your doctor will do for perioral dermatitis.  There are some medications that may help you such as topical antibiotic medications, immunosuppressive creams, topical acne medications and even sometimes oral antibiotics.  You may want to try some lifestyle changes before reaching out to your doctor.  Unless your rash has become fluid filled then go see your doctor, there may be an infection in your rash.  The main lifestyle change is to stop those steroid creams or nasal sprays.  Also don’t use any heavy skin creams or moisturizers.  It is still important to cleanse your skin and moisturize, but use a mild soap with warm water to clean your face and use a very light moisturizer.  You don’t want to weigh your skin down with too many products.  Do not scrub your skin too hard, make sure you wash gently and pat your skin dry.  During flare ups make sure you reduce the heavy use of makeup and sunscreen.  You are wanting to try and let your skin breathe.  Make sure to wash your pillow cases frequently, the buildup of dead skin cells and bacteria can irritate your face.  Limiting spicy and salty foods can help reduce flare ups as well.  Trying pure coconut oil on your rash can help decrease the rash appearance as well help with the itching and burning symptoms. 




It is almost impossible to completely prevent yourself from getting perioral dermatitis, since the cause of it is unknown.  Thankfully it is easy to diagnose and then you can start trying out lifestyle changes or talking with your doctor about treatments to get the dermatitis under control.  Identifying things that cause flare ups will be key in your managing this rash.  Even getting your hormones balanced can help dramatically decrease the amount of flare ups you may experience.  Your skin is your biggest organ so it is important to take care of it as best you can.  



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