Perioral Dermatitis

A common skin problem affecting the face is perioral dermatitis. More specifically, the target area for this type of dermatitis is the skin around the mouth, the nose borders, the chin area, and sometimes around the eyes.

Like many other skin rash problems, the cause has not been determined. Some believe it may be a form of rosacea. Theories for causes include the use of strong steroidal creams (a strong connection exists between this dermatitis problem and topical steroids), hormonal changes in women caused by the use of the contraceptive pill, fluoride or tartar control ingredients in toothpaste, makeup, moisturizers, sunscreens, and exposure to uv light or strong winds. More specifically, ingredients such as petrolatum, paraffin, sodium lauryl sulfate, isopropyl myristate, and cinnamon flavoring are suspects.

Perioral Dermatitis Symptoms 

If you have this rash around the mouth, you are likely to have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • redness of the skin around the lips or mouth
  • the area immediately outside the lips (a thin line of skin) is often unaffected and gives the appearance of a light colored thin ring around the lip area
  • the appearance of small red or pink bumps which may be filled with pus
  • sometimes the bumps may appear similar to acne or may group together to form raised patches
  • mild to moderate skin peeling in the affected area
  • mild itching and burning

This mouth rash problem tends to affect young to middle-aged women more than other groups of individuals. Some suggest children in the 7-month to 13 years of age group are affected more than others as well. Men are rarely affected by this skin condition.

Generally, this skin rash will not disappear without treatment and can last for years. Treatment of this face skin problem is required to eliminate it. The first treatment step is to eliminate the use of products that are suspected triggers of the rash around the mouth. Oral or topical antibiotics are used and sometimes in combination with mild corticosteroid cream application to reduce redness and inflammation of the skin. Care must be taken when using the steroidal creams because they may make the mouth rash worse. The antibiotic treatment may have to be continued for up to three months. Like antibiotic treatments for other health problems, the complete treatment needs to be fully completed to eliminate the risk of perioral dermatitis reoccurring.

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