Perioral Dermatitis: Causes, Symptoms and Effective Treatments

Perioral dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition that affects the face. It typically appears as a rash around the mouth but can also appear around the eyes and nose. Even though this condition isn’t life-threatening, perioral dermatitis can be embarrassing and frustrating, affecting an individual’s self-esteem and confidence.

This is a benign eruption that commonly occurs in young and adult females. It comprises small inflammatory pustules and papules or pink, scaly patches around the mouth. With that being said, it’s commonly referred to as periorificial dermatitis. In this blog post, If you’re suffering from perioral dermatitis, you must read through it to know its causes, symptoms, and effective treatments. 

What are the causes of perioral dermatitis?

What causes you to develop a rash or have perioral dermatitis is unclear. But what’s certain is that something irritates your skin; it can be toothpaste or a skin care product. Also, it’s possible that you’re allergic to something when it’s in close contact with your skin.

Some people apply corticosteroid medicine to their skin for too long, and that’s why they develop this condition. This is why it’s essential to follow directions whenever you’re taking medications. Some of the possible causes of perioral dermatitis in detail are as follows:

Bacterial or fungal infections

Germs and yeasts (bacteria) that live in hair follicles and the skin have been discovered as possible triggers of perioral dermatitis. The rash may lead to an inflammatory response due to its overgrowth of bacteria or fungi on the surface of your skin. This can be confirmed if your skin is already damaged or irritated because of harsh irritants and skincare products.

Perioral dermatitis is also caused by a bacterial infection called impetigo. This highly contagious skin infection allows small and fluid-filled blisters to appear around your mouth or nose. On the other hand, a common fungal infection that can trigger this condition is tinea faciei. This is caused by Trichophyton rubrum, a type of fungus. Tinea faciei can also bring a red and scaly rash to your skin that can be uncomfortable and itchy. 

Topical steroids

Research shows a link between a developing perioral dermatitis and a topical steroid. This topical steroid may be in the form of steroid creams, ointments, and gels. Several causes develop when you use a topical steroid on the face or other conditions like mild eczema.

Prolonged use of these steroids can disrupt the natural balance of the skin. It’s believed that prolonged use of these steroids can also lead to changes in the immune system, increased blood vessel fragility, and skin thinning. Moreover, topical steroids as a cause of perioral dermatitis often occur when the medication is abruptly discontinued after using for more than a few weeks. 

What are the symptoms of perioral dermatitis?

A dermatologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago says that people with perioral dermatitis have a visible rash around their mouth. This condition is also often associated with scaling and redness, according to a dermatologist at NYU Langone Health. In some cases, it’s possible that the rash may also appear in the genitals. 

Additionally, unlike acne, perioral dermatitis doesn’t involve whiteheads or blackheads. But the rash associated with this condition can still be mistaken as rosacea and acne. To further elaborate on the signs that you may develop perioral dermatitis, here are some symptoms:

Symptom No. 1: A sensation of tightness or tingling around the mouth

This symptom causes discomfort due to the appearance of small, red, and bumpy rashes around the chin, nose, and mouth. A feeling of tension or constriction in the affected area is used to describe the sensation of tingling or tightness.

With this symptom, you may have difficulty eating, speaking, or opening your mouth thoroughly, which can be bothersome. This is why seeking medical advice is essential to prevent the condition from worsening. 

Symptom No. 2: Dry, flaky, or scaly skin around the rash

The scaliness, dryness, and flakiness of the skin can be accompanied by other symptoms like burning and itching. As a result, the rash may spread to other areas of the face, such as the eyelids, cheeks, and forehead.

The lesions may be brown or hyperpigmented for people with darker skin. Cosmetic products or certain medications can trigger this symptom and may appear due to stress. 

Symptom No. 3: Small, red bumps or pustules around the mouth, nose, and chin

Children may develop these small bumps around the mouth and sometimes even around the nose and eyes. Despite the rash being mildly itchy, it may come and go over time. The redness may be harder to see in darker skin colors, or it may appear in a darker brown or purple shade. In contrast, the rash may appear pink or red for lighter-skinned people. 

Keep in mind that these pustules or bumps can be very uncomfortable since they also suddenly appear. They may be filled with pus or fluid and are typically small, red, and raised. The pustules or bumps may be concentrated around the area of the chin and the mouth, forming a pattern usually in the shape of a ring.

What are the treatments for perioral dermatitis?

Since perioral dermatitis can be unsightly and uncomfortable, treating this kind of condition can be challenging. This is also because perioral dermatitis has a variety of potential causes, like fungal or bacterial infections, hormonal changes, or topical steroid use. 

For an accurate diagnosis and treatment, it’s vital to seek the advice of a dermatologist. Treatment for perioral dermatitis may last for several weeks or months. Which is why it’s important to follow the instructions of the dermatologist to avoid rash recurrence. To learn more about the treatments you need, just keep on reading. 

Treatment No. 1: Herbal remedies 

You may experience relief once you start using herbal remedies in order to treat your perioral dermatitis. Some herbal remedies you can use are essential oils, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, grape seed extract, honey, and yogurt. Essential oils that are antimicrobial, analgesic, and antibacterial properties in diluted tea tree oil can soothe the burning and itching sensation. From the essential oils that were mentioned, mix 10 to 15 drops with almond or coconut oil and apply it to the affected area. Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help eliminate harmful toxins to your skin. Be sure to apply a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water to the affected area, and before rinsing it off, apply it for 15 minutes.

Aloe vera can help relieve irritation and redness and is also a natural anti-inflammatory. Grape seed extract helps in removing toxins and soothes your skin as well. Rinse off both honey and yogurt after placing them in the affected area for an hour. 

Treatment No. 2: Dietary changes

An intolerance of gluten or an undiagnosed allergy can trigger perioral dermatitis. This condition can improve when you switch to a gluten-free diet (preferably carb-free or low-carb) that’s high in protein. Make sure to avoid overeating foods like acidic or spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol, as they may also trigger the condition.

Eating a well-balanced diet can support general skin health. Skin benefits have been proven by Vitamins A, C, and E. Fruits and veggies rich in polyphenols and essential fatty acids like omega-3s can help improve pigmentation, hydration, elasticity, and firmness. 

Treatment No. 3: Oral antibiotics

Oral antibiotics are considered to be the most reliable treatment for perioral dermatitis. They can help clear up underlying infections that can contribute to the rash. These antibiotics can help kill bacteria and reduce inflammation in clearing up the rash. 

As part of your treatment plan, dermatologists will likely recommend decreasing doses to avoid antibiotic resistance. You can take oral antibiotics such as minocycline or doxycycline. The duration of the treatment can be 3 to 12 weeks. 


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