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Perioral Dermatitis Complete Guide

If you recently heard about Perioral Dermatitis but didn’t know what it is, this guide will explain everything about the skin rash. Perioral dermatitis refers to an inflammatory rash of the skin near the mouth. In some cases, this rash can spread up to your eyes or the nose. 

Typically, it appears as a bumpy or scaly rash around the mouth. Some people may experience a clear fluid discharge. This feeling is with a burning sensation and itching. The condition is more common in women who are between 16 to 45 years. However, it can affect people of all ages who are from different ethnicities and backgrounds. 


Perioral dermatitis typically appears in the folds around the nose or as a rash around the mouth. However, they can also appear in these areas:

  • on the forehead
  • under the eyes
  • on the chin

The scaly bumps can also contain fluids or pus. That’s why they often resemble acne. You may experience itching or a burning sensation, particularly when the rash worsens. 

Causes and Triggers

While there are many causes of perioral dermatitis, a major cause is the inhaled prescription steroid sprays or prolonged use of topical steroid creams. If you overuse moisturizers or heavy creams, you could be vulnerable to this rash. Some other common causes include rosacea, fluorinated toothpaste, and skin irritations. 

Skin specialists believe that the rash may be due to a connection between topical steroids and skin conditions. Since perioral dermatitis usually occurs after using topical steroids for prolonged periods. 

However, the actual cause of perioral dermatitis is still unknown. It is not a hereditary condition. 

Today, dermatologists observe a rise in perioral dermatitis. Typically, rashes or dermatoses associated with masks are on the rise since the pandemic. Wearing a mask creates a different environment for the skin around the mouth area. If an individual has extremely sensitive skin, he may become vulnerable to skin infections or rashes such as perioral dermatitis. 

Most children develop it because of a certain type of toothpaste. People who use a topical steroid on the skin for treating another skin condition can also suffer from perioral dermatitis. Nasal sprays that contain corticosteroids may also lead to perioral dermatitis.

Some cosmetic ingredients in makeup products can lead to skin irritation or rash. If you use any heavy moisturizer/cream having a paraffin base, you can be susceptible to this rash. 

Here are some other factors that can trigger this condition. 

  • fungal or bacterial infection
  • fluorinated toothpaste
  • drooling
  • sunscreen
  • birth control medication 
  • rosacea


Here are some triggers that you can avoid to reduce the chances of perioral dermatitis. 

  • heavy creams or facial moisturizers
  • UV exposure
  • Toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Noncomedogenic makeup
  • Sunscreens that feature strong chemicals
  • Makeup products with strong fragrances

In some cases, certain medications can trigger perioral dermatitis, such as:

  • Nasal steroids
  • OTC steroid creams
  • prescription topical steroids
  • birth control pills
  • inhaled steroids

Perioral Dermatitis Treatments

Periorificial dermatitis is treatable and responds well to treatments. However, you may have to wait for several days or weeks to observe a significant improvement. Here are the precautions you must take to reduce the chances of suffering from perioral dermatitis. 


Avoid using any heavy facial moisturizers or creams such as topical steroids, sunscreens, or serums without your dermatologist’s approval.

  • If you can’t stop using these products immediately, choose a slower withdrawal and start replacing these creams with less occlusive or less potent alternatives. 
  • When the rash is present, use water only to wash your face 
  • Once you get rid of the rash, switch to a gentle liquid cleanser or a non-soap bar for cleaning your face. 
  • Choose a gel or a liquid sunscreen

Topical Therapy

You can treat mild periorificial dermatitis through topical therapy. Here are some popular choices: 

  • Metronidazole
  • Clindamycin
  • Pimecrolimus
  • Erythromycin
  • Azelaic acid
  • Oral Therapy

In severe cases, you need oral anti-inflammatory antibiotics to cure the rash. Consume these antibiotics for at least six to twelve weeks to see noticeable results. This period will also help reduce the rebound flare. 

Generally, doctors recommend tetracycline, but a sub-antimicrobial is also sufficient.

Oral erythromycin can help during pregnancy and in the case of pre-pubertal children.

Oral low-dose isotretinoin is also helpful when antibiotics are contraindicated or ineffective.

Best Treatment Creams for Perioral Dermatitis

In addition to oral therapy and anti-inflammatory medication, using popular creams and moisturizing products for treating perioral dermatitis is also popular. Many reputed brands manufacture effective creams or serums that relieve the skin and prevent the onset of perioral dermatitis. Here, we review some of the best and most popular treatment creams for treating the rash without experiencing any ugly side effects. 

Plant-Based Ultra Gentle Cream for Itchy, Dry, and Sensitive Skin from Puriya

If you are looking for a plant-based and gentle formula to treat your sensitive skin, this amazing cream for Puriya does a fantastic job. The formula comprises aloe vera, shea butter, honey, and jojoba, etc., to nourish the skin. Thanks to the natural ingredients of this popular cream, you can keep your skin fresh and healthy.

The Puriya Ultra Gentle Cream relieves dry and itchy skin. If you have sensitive skin, there are few other creams that this one on the market. The cream revitalizes, renews, and restores the skin’s moisture to make you look fresh and young. 

Natural Eczema Lotion from Lemyka

The clinically tested rash cream is excellent for treating rosacea, eczema, heat rashes, and perioral dermatitis. The best part about this rash cream is that both adults and kids can use it. The natural and safe ingredients of this cream are great for facial skin. The healing lotion from Lemkya guarantees excellent results with its pure and natural ingredients.

The formula is free of any parabens, steroids, irritants, GMOs, and toxins. The itch relief lotion offers fast and effective results. If you are looking for a moisturizing lotion that is a safer alternative to medicated creams, this one is a fabulous choice. 

Healing Cream from Thena 

The miraculous Thena Healing Cream is a blend of nourishing compounds and ingredients. The formula is effective for relieving itchy and dry skin. Dermatologists and skin specialists recommend this amazing product for skin affected by Eczema, Psoriasis, and Perioral Dermatitis. The fabulous cream serves as a skin barrier, protecting the skin from skin irritants. 

Apart from essential fatty acids, the healing cream also contains Omega 3,6,9, and natural oils. All these ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin to deliver exceptional results without causing any side effects. 

Best Face Wash for Perioral Dermatitis 

Facial creams are not the only skincare products that can help you take care of perioral dermatitis. Many popular face wash products from credible brands relieve the itchiness and inflammation of the rash. 

Here are some of the best and most effective facial wash products you can use to clean your sensitive skin when you have perioral dermatitis. 

Adonia Cleansing Gel

If you’re looking for an organic face wash, Adonia Cleansing Gel works great as a daily face wash, especially if you have sensitive skin. It is made with organic anti-aging oils that are powerful yet safe on your skin. The gel is also “climate pledge friendly”, meaning that uses an efficient design meant to reduce packaging and waste. 

Hydrating Gel-to-Cream Cleanser from Paula’s Choice

This brand is world-famous for its popular and effective skincare products. That’s why you can expect nothing but high-quality products from the Hydrating cleanser. The Paula’s Choice Hydrating gel-to-cream formula works gently on the skin but firmly on dirt and makeup. If you want to remove all traces of pollutants, makeup, or oil that damage your skin, this face wash is a must-have product in your beauty equipment. 

The safe ingredients of this amazing facial wash reserve premature aging and leave the skin looking radiant. Thanks to its potent but gentle formula, you can use it even if you have perioral dermatitis. 

Milky Jelly Cleanser from Glossier

The amazing Jelly cleanser comprises five skin conditioners, including Pro-Vitamin B5 and Allantoin. Thanks to these ingredients, you will feel your skin fresh and baby soft every time you wash your face. The Glossier cleanser offers a great way to clean your sensitive and rash-prone facial skin. 

If you are guilty of using a traditional soap to wash your face with perioral dermatitis, the Milky Jelly Cleanser is the perfect alternative. With its mild cleansing formula, you can incorporate it into your daily regime. The product is safe for your eyes, so it won’t sting when you are washing your face to remove mascara traces. 

Pore Normalizing Cleanser from Paula’s Choice

Few cleaners are great for acne-prone skin, such as this one from Paula’s Choice. If you are suffering from perioral dermatitis as well as acne, you can trust this amazing acne-fighting cleanser. The face wash works well for removing oil and eliminating makeup without leaving your skin dry or itchy. As the name suggests, the cleanser opens the clogged pores of your facial skin and improves your original skin tone and texture. 

Use it every day for dissolving pore-clogging impurities and cleaning your face without experiencing any burning sensation. The gel texture of the cleanser is great for washing your skin while having a rash or acne. 

Wearing Makeup with Perioral Dermatitis

Another question that arises when you have perioral dermatitis is whether you can use the most common and popular makeup products? While the simple answer to this question is yes, a lot of consideration goes into choosing the best makeup accessories. 

Your makeup stylist and dermatologist can also recommend the best products that will suit your skin when you have perioral dermatitis. However, it’s best to choose formulas and creams designed specifically for this condition.

Some other handy tips can relieve your skin. For example, you should avoid using a concealer or a heavy liquid foundation when dealing with perioral dermatitis. That’s because the face is usually swollen and red when the rash is present. Using a powder foundation will irritate the skin less, so your skin won’t burn or itch because of the foundation. 

When you are using foundation, remember to choose a slightly damp sponge or a brush for application. The best way to apply foundation powder is to pat your face with a brush or a sponge. Using a mineral foundation all over the face, including your dark circles, is a great way to unify your skin tone. Choose a bronzer if you want to contour a face a bit.

But keeping it light and natural when you have perioral dermatitis will always protect your skin from ugly complications such as pus or infection. 

If the rash is up to your nose or eyes, add a touch of makeup with a little shadow powder. Finish the look with a coat of mascara. When choosing lip shades, stick to natural lip balms that contain natural emollients. For example, go for something that contains organic ingredients or shea butter. If you are using lipstick, make sure it’s from a credible makeup brand. 

When the rash is without any inflammation, you can use regular makeup products, as long as they don’t contain any skin irritants. Check the label of makeup products before buying them so you won’t use anything that may trigger your skin rash. When applying makeup on the face, avoid layering or using thick formulas that won’t let your skin breathe properly. 

Famous Brands to Choose for Buying the Best Makeup

When you have perioral dermatitis, you can’t rely on regular makeup brands. Hence, choose the best makeup brands that manufacture safe and non-toxic makeup accessories. Here are some popular products that come from household makeup brands to look beautiful without worsening your skin rash. 

  • Ellora: Light Mattifying Foundation
  • Urban Decay: concealer and Powder foundation
  • Embyolisse: Poudre Compacte Bonne Mine
  • Nude by Nature: Fond de teint libre éclat
  • Lancôme: Miracle Cushion
  • Laura Mercier: Loose Setting Powder

How to Diagnose Periorificial Dermatitis 

Clinical diagnosis is straightforward because the presentation of periorificial dermatitis is usually typical. Your doctor will usually diagnose this without conducting any test. A skin biopsy would show perivascular and follicular inflammation like rosacea. Performing a biopsy is very rare and not applicable in most cases. 

Despite its name, perioral dermatitis is not exactly true dermatitis. Your doctor will analyze the condition and appearance of your skin and may request a skin culture. This test will help the doctor check if there are any bacteria or infections present. The absence of comedones distinguishes perioral dermatitis from rosacea and acne. 

How Long does Perioral Dermatitis Last? 

Typically, perioral dermatitis lasts for weeks, months, or sometimes years. If you follow your doctor’s treatment plan, the symptoms will gradually get better. Recurrences are common, so you may get other rash years after treatment. 

Although you may not observe any noticeable improvement immediately, you may observe noticeable changes within the first two months of the treatment. 

What are the Diet and Lifestyle Changes you can Adapt? 

Another way to prevent and treat perioral dermatitis is to incorporate lifestyle changes. Here is an overview of these practices: 

Avoid using perfumed cleansers, fragranced soaps, and harsh facial scrubs. If you are experiencing a flare-up, use lukewarm water only for washing your face. After allowing the rash to heal, you can wash your face with mild soap or a medicated face wash and water. 

  • Don’t use steroid creams 
  • Do not buy sunscreens, cosmetics, and makeup products from unknown brands
  • Wash your towels and pillowcases in hot water frequently. 
  • Reduce your intake of spicy and salty foods. 

Bottom Line

If you have a rash around your mouth, don’t ignore it. Most of us don’t realize that this rash could be perioral dermatitis. You need to follow a treatment plan for taking care of this red and small rash. 

Protecting your skin during outdoor activities will also help you avoid perioral dermatitis. Don’t let heat, wind, and UV rays aggravate perioral dermatitis. Follow our guide and the tips listed above to protect your sensitive skin from perioral dermatitis to look beautiful and fresh. 

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