How To Treat Perioral Dermatitis

Written by Monomita Chakraborty

Do you have a red, irritating rash around your mouth? Is it itchy? It could be perioral dermatitis, a condition that is frequently mistaken for acne. This rash may extend to the nose or even the eyes (also called periorificial dermatitis). Perioral dermatitis is generally self-resolving. However, effective treatments are available to avoid its recurrence.

This article discusses the causes of perioral dermatitis, its symptoms, home remedies, and treatments to consider. Keep reading to find the right treatment option for you.

What Causes Perioral Dermatitis?

Many factors are thought to be responsible for the onset of perioral dermatitis. In most cases, it may be an after-effect of the products you use. Listed below are the most typical causes (1),(2),(3):

  • Topical use of steroid creams and ointments
  • Use of steroid sprays in the nose and mouth
  • Overuse of heavy makeup, face creams, and moisturizers
  • Use of fluoridated toothpaste
  • Chewing gum
  • Dental fillings
  • Yeasts and bacteria that live on the skin and in hair follicles
  • Hormonal changes
  • Problems with the immune system
  • Environmental factors, including exposure to UV rays
  • Stress
  • Poor hygiene
  • Allergic reactions to medications

Continue reading to know the common signs and symptoms of perioral dermatitis.

Symptoms Of Perioral Dermatitis

The skin condition is characterized by (1):

  • Redness and scaly rash around the mouth; the rash may extend to the eyelids, nose, forehead, and genitals
  • A burning sensation
  • A tightening sensation on the skin around the mouth
  • Watery discharge from the rashes
  • Dryness and flakiness
  • Tiny inflamed bumps or papules
  • Vesicles or pustules (fluid-filled blisters)
  • Itchiness

Let us find out who is more prone to perioral dermatitis in the following section.

Who Are Most Likely To Be Affected?

Perioral dermatitis can affect people of all ages, races, and ethnicities. It can also affect children. However, it is most commonly observed in women aged between 20 and 45 (1).

Which parts of the face does perioral dermatitis affect? Keep scrolling to find out.

What Are The Most Affected Areas?

  • Under the eyes
  • Forehead
  • Chin
  • Around the mouth

How Can Perioral Dermatitis Be Diagnosed?

  • No tests are usually required to diagnose perioral dermatitis.
  • Dermatologists can diagnose it by simply examining your face.
  • They may enquire about the use of steroid creams and ointments apart from other pertinent histories.
  • Swabs may be taken to run a skin culture to rule out an infection.
  • In rare cases, your doctor may send a sample of the afflicted skin area to a dermatologist for a skin biopsy.
  • The doctor may also conduct blood tests to rule out nutritional deficits.

The ingredients in your kitchen have a solution for most of your skin problems. Here, we bring to you a list of home remedies that may help complement the treatment for perioral dermatitis.

Home Remedies For Perioral Dermatitis

Most topical skin care products contain the ingredients listed below. While these ingredients have not been evaluated for treating perioral dermatitis, they are thought to be beneficial for most types of dermatitis.

1. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and wound-healing properties. It may help soothe the skin and prevent further irritation if used daily (4).

How To Use?

  • Apply pure aloe vera gel to the affected area.
  • Allow it to absorb into your skin.
  • Repeat every day.

  2. Honey

Honey has scientifically been recognized for its antimicrobial and wound-healing properties. It helps treat facial redness, papules, pustules, and telangiectasia (tiny blood vessels causing threadlike red lines on the skin) (5).

How To Use?

  • Apply raw honey to the affected areas.
  • Wash off after half an hour.
  • Repeat twice a day.

Note: Discontinue these remedies immediately if you experience allergic reactions like continuous burning or increased redness.

While these remedies may be effective, they are not enough. Making changes to your skincare routine and lifestyle is also essential. Consider the following:

  • Discontinue using steroid creams or sprays immediately.
  • Skip heavy face washes and cream. Go for a gentle facial cleanser while your rash heals.
  • Wash your hands before touching your face.
  • Do not scrub the skin as it may cause more irritation.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Change your pillowcase every day.
  • Avoid chemical-based skin care products.
  • Avoid face oils.
  • Keep your body hydrated and eat a balanced diet.

Are these home remedies not working for you? Worry not. There are other treatment options available. Scroll down to know them.

Treatment Options Available For Perioral Dermatitis

According to a study, first-line treatment options for perioral dermatitis include metronidazole cream or gel, clindamycin lotion or gel, erythromycin gel, topical sulfur preparations, and azelaic acid gel. Antibiotics play a key role in treating this condition, thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties. Topical calcineurin inhibitors like tacrolimus ointment or pimecrolimus cream can also be effective.

Topical sulfur or sulfacetamide preparations, and topical adapalene have also been demonstrated to show improvement. Besides, photodynamic therapy using 5-aminolevulinic acid as a photosensitizer has been found to be helpful. Oral antibiotics like tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline can be used to treat severe perioral dermatitis (1).

Do you need to see a doctor if you are affected by perioral dermatitis? Let’s find this out in the next section.

When Should You See A Doctor?

You should see a dermatologist right away as perioral dermatitis could be a sign of a more serious skin disease. Your dermatologist will be able to determine the severity of your illness and recommend an appropriate treatment for you.

But, as we know, prevention is better than cure. You can avoid many skin diseases by adopting a few preventive steps, and perioral dermatitis is no exception. Keep reading to know more.

Is It Possible To Prevent Perioral Dermatitis?

Here are a few steps to prevent perioral dermatitis:

  • Avoid using topical steroids near the mouth and nose.
  • Do not change any dermatologist-approved medication to steroids or stronger steroids.
  • Do not use skin care products with harsh fragrances or surfactants if you have sensitive skin.
  • Wearing masks may increase the risk of perioral dermatitis (6). Use clean masks.
  • Avoid heavy makeup.
  • Use sunscreen.


Perioral dermatitis is an inflammatory rash that commonly occurs around the mouth. However, it also occurs around the nose, chin, and eyes. The skin condition is more common in adult women (20 to 45 years) than men. It is frequently associated with topical steroids and the overuse of makeup and other cosmetic products. Consider following the preventive measures and treatment options listed in the article. Consult a  doctor immediately if you develop an infection – they can recommend the right treatment.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

How long does perioral dermatitis last?

Perioral dermatitis can prolong for months or even years if left untreated. It may recur even if the condition is addressed. However, the disorder usually does not return following successful treatment.

How can you tell the difference between perioral dermatitis and acne?

Acne causes comedones (pimples), but perioral dermatitis does not. Acne spots are typically larger and deeper, and cysts and scarring are possible.

What bacteria cause perioral dermatitis?

Bacteria like Candida albicans, fusiform, and Demodex mites can cause perioral dermatitis (1).


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Perioral Dermatitis
  2. Perioral dermatitis from high fluoride dentifrice: a case report and review of literature
  3. Psychological interventions in the management of common skin conditions
  4. Pharmacological Update Properties of Aloe Vera and its Major Active Constituents
  5. Honey: A Therapeutic Agent for Disorders of the Skin
  6. Flare-up of Rosacea due to Face Mask in Healthcare Workers During COVID-19

Recommended Articles

Was this article helpful?
The following two tabs change content below.