Perioral Dermatitis

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Images of Dermatitis, Perioral


Perioral dermatitis is an acne-like condition of unknown cause. Some possible causes are the use of topical corticosteroid creams, cosmetic products, oral contraceptives, fluoride and anti-tartar ingredients in dental products, and it tends to occur in those prone to eczema.

Who's at risk?

It is usually seen in women ages 16–45, but men can be affected as well. Children may also be affected (ages 7 months to 13 years). It is more common in developed countries.

Signs and Symptoms

Small red bumps or tiny pus-filled lesions (pustules) appear around the mouth, often with a clear area between the lip and the rash. The bumps may also occur near the eyes and nose. There may also be dry or flaky skin in these areas.

Self-Care Guidelines

  • Stop all face creams, lotions, cosmetics, and sunscreens being used.
  • Stop any dental products with fluoride and anti-tartar ingredients until the rash has resolved, and then try a different dental product.
  • Wash with warm water alone until the rash improves, and then use a soap substitute to clean your face.

When to Seek Medical Care

If the self-care measures are not helping after 4–6 weeks, seek medical advice.

Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe

Taking oral or topical antibiotics for a few weeks may provide effective treatment. Azelaic acid is a topical product that may be prescribed. Sometimes the condition recurs after treatment is stopped, but the same therapy may be repeated as needed.

Trusted Links

MedlinePlus: Mouth DisordersClinical Information and Differential Diagnosis of Dermatitis, Perioral


Bolognia, Jean L., ed. Dermatology, pp.1414. New York: Mosby, 2003.

Freedberg, Irwin M., ed. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 6th ed, pp.697-698. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.