Perioral Dermatitis

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Images of Dermatitis, Perioral


Perioral (which literally means "around the mouth") dermatitis is a facial rash that resembles acne but is specifically located on the skin around the lips. It is red and can be bumpy or scaly. There are usually several causes of this condition including:

  • Chronic use of topical steroid creams.
  • Inhaled prescription steroid sprays via the mouth or nose.
  • Overuse of facial creams and/or moisturizers.

Who's at risk?

Perioral dermatitis is a common skin problem that usually occurs in females, especially teens. Older women can also be affected. Infrequently, men and children can also be affected by perioral dermatitis.

Signs and Symptoms

Small red bumps or tiny pus-filled lesions appear around the mouth, often with a clear area between the lip area and the rash. The bumps may also occur near the eyes and nose. Sometimes 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

Oral or topical antibiotics for a few weeks may be very effective. 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

Clinical 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.