Perioral dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis is a rare skin condition, occurring in about 1% of the population. Women more commonly get affected by the rash-like symptoms than man. It is estimated that 1 in every 100 women at some point in life develops the signs of perioral dermatitis, mostly between ages of 15 and 45. With that being said, the number representing male population is getting higher and higher each year because the use of skin care products and cosmetics amongst men is rapidly increasing.  

Perioral dermatitis: Symptoms and Causes

Perioral dermatitis, also known as perioral rosacea, face steroid dermatitis or oral dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition, often described as a rash.

The word perioral indicates the most common locations of flare-ups, which is around the mouth, chin, cheeks, and around the nose. The symptoms of perioral dermatitis spear a small border of skin around the lips, leaving them unaffected. In some cases, the skin around the eyes may even get affected by recognizable rash-like symptoms.

Here is more precise list of symptoms:

  • Redness
  • Small, red lumpy spots often filled with clear liquid
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Burning sensation and itchiness

The impact of these symptoms on patient’s emotional state is often far greater than we think. The unsightly appearance of small, red lumpy spots can trigger the depression and irritability, often leaving people wondering: “Is perioral dermatitis contagious?” Fortunately, the answer to this question is: “No!” Perioral dermatitis is not contagious and cannot spread with kissing.

Perioral dermatitis and its symptoms may at first glance seem very serious; however, the illness itself doesn’t present danger to human well-being. In most cases, the outbreaks are painless, sometimes causing burning and itchiness.

When looking at perioral dermatitis pictures available online you can see that the illness comes in different stages of severity; from few, almost unnoticeable spots to obvious red bumps appearing in colonies or clusters.

Those obvious red bumps resembling pimples are medically known as papulopustules or erythematous papules. They vary in size, from 1 to 2 mm in diameter, and their color changes from red to pale brown as the illness regresses. Separate pustules usually appear around the mouth in a cluster, however, they never merge.

These pustule flare-ups resemble acnes, but they shouldn’t be mistaken for them! Inadequate perioral dermatitis treatment or its absence, can lead to thickening and coarsening of the skin. If you are not completely sure whether your skin has been affected by perioral dermatitis, acne or some other skin condition, seek medical attention. Your dermatologist will conduct proper diagnosis and put you through appropriate treatment.

Every effective treatment should not only tackle the symptoms of the disease but also the causes. Exact perioral dermatitis causes to this day remain unknown; however, some factors contributing to the development of perioral dermatitis have been already proven.

Here is a list of causative factors:

  • Sensitive skin on the face
  • Excessive use of face care and cosmetic products
  • Chemicals in cosmetic and face care products
  • Use of dentures and toothpastes containing fluoride
  • Certain medicines, oral contraceptive pills and corticosteroids creams and ointments
  • Change in climate and environmental conditions
  • Strong winds and exposure to UV light
  • Yeast and germs (bacteria) living on skin and hair follicles
  • Decrease of cellular and humoral immunity
  • Predisposition to bronchial asthma, allergic reactions, and allergic rhinitis
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Disfunctions of gastrointestinal tract
  • Disfunctions of endocrine system
  • Disfunctions of nervous system

How to treat perioral dermatitis?

Medical treatment of perioral dermatitis usually lasts from 1.5 to 3 months. The duration of therapy depends on the severity of the outbreaks. Your dermatologists will evaluate the state of your perioral dermatitis and based on the results determine the best solution for your skin problem.

Finding a cure to perioral dermatitis is sometimes not as simple as it may seem.  Treatment of perioral dermatitis can get tricky when a person is having other medical problems that may intervene with usual stages of therapy. Eczema, for instance, requires the use of topical steroids which are one of most pronounced causative factors of oral dermatitis. 

Regardless of your current health state, it is important to note that even most accurate diagnosis and therapy don’t necessary guarantee full recovery as further recurrences of outbreaks are always possible.

Here is a list of most common treatments your doctor may put you thought:

  1. Elimination of causative factors

The previous list of causative factors shows that environmental elements, such as UV radiation and strong winds, as well as skin care products and cosmetics containing harsh chemicals can trigger the rash-like outbreaks.

If your doctor determines that root of you concern lies in these external factors, he or she may advise you to completely abandon the use of any cosmetics, lotions, detergents, fluoride toothpastes and topical steroids or until perioral dermatitis regresses.

Such lifestyle changing treatment may seem harsh however the world offers plenty of natural and just as effective alternatives to hygiene products. This zero-therapy method shows its results within several months.

  1. Clotrimazole for perioral dermatitis

Skin as the biggest human organ is a home to bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that tend to thrive in hair follicles of the skin. When perioral dermatitis is caused by the unbalanced microflora of facial skin, doctors usually reach for antifungal and antibacterial ointments capable of restoring the health of affected areas.

Clotrimazole is an antifungal cream used in the treatment of various skin conditions including athlete’s foot, ringworm, jock itch and perioral dermatitis. This medication should be used topically on affected skin only. Follow usage directions given by your doctor closely. Don’t apply the cream on your face more often than advised. Your outbreak will not heal faster; you will only increase the risks of harmful side effects.

  1. Antibiotics for perioral dermatitis

Oral antibiotics used in the treatment of perioral dermatitis usually carry antibacterial attributes. For instance, a prescription drug called tetracycline fights bacterial infections from within and is therefore used in treating acne, sexually transmitted diseases as well as perioral dermatitis. Tetracycline needs to be used for at least couple of months to prevent the reoccurrence of outbreaks.

Doctors usually consider every other milder option of treatment before prescribing the patient oral antibiotics, such as tetracycline, doxycycline, and doxycycline. The reason for it is simple. These medications are linked to serious side effects. If you are worried about negative impacts these medications may have on your body, ask your doctor for honest advice and educate yourself about the likeliness of serious side effects.

Home remedies for perioral dermatitis

People affected by perioral dermatitis often seek a cure in traditional medicine that is offering every single patient safe solution to their health concern. 

Following perioral dermatitis natural cure solutions are general in nature and are not at any means recommendation or substitute for the treatment provided by your medical specialist. If you are having any doubts or concerns about the listed remedies consult with your medical specialist beforehand.

  1. Calendula

Calendula plant with its beautiful orange-yellow flowers carries powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. You can exploit these healing attributes of calendula plant by giving this recipe a try:

Calendula ointment

Calendula ointment for perioral dermatitis


  • 1 ounce of pure shea butter
  • 3 to 5 drops of calendula essential oil


  • Put shea butter in a mason jar and place it in a pan filled with couple of inches of water.
  • Heat the pan on low heat till the shea butter melts.
  • Remove the pan from heat and add 3 to 5 drops of calendula essential oil to shea butter.
  • With spatula, mix all ingredients thoroughly and let the ointment set for couple of hours before use.
  1. Manuka honey

Manuka honey is considered one of the best natural skin care products. It carries impressive antioxidant value and has nourishing nature. Most importantly, raw manuka honey provides high antibacterial effects, strong enough to suppress the symptoms of perioral dermatitis.

Manuka honey face wash

Manuka honey for perioral dermatitis


  • Wash your face with warm water.
  • While you face is still wet, apply one teaspoon of raw, organic manuka honey onto whole face or just affected areas.
  • Massage the honey onto your face for a minute.
  • Rinse your skin and pat it dry.
  1. Aloe vera gel

Aloe vera gel is an influential anti-inflammatory agent capable of calming disturbed skin tissue and redness associated with perioral dermatitis. The following recipe will help you alleviate burning itchiness.

Cooling aloe vera face gel

Cooling aloe vera face gel


  • 2 ounces of pure aloe vera gel
  • 5 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops of tea tree essential oil


  • Store aloe vera gel in small, amber glass container.
  • Add essential oils to aloe vera.
  • Mix all ingredients thoroughly and store the jar in clean, dry place.
  • Apply the cooling gel on your face twice a day.

Conclusion + Health recommendations

Perioral dermatitis affects man and women of different ages. The exact causes of rash-like symptoms appearing around the mouth and sometimes even near the eyes are as for now not known yet. Medicine has gladly proved some causative factors of perioral dermatitis which help patients build a better understanding of the illness.

You can help your body defeat the illness with the appropriate treatment and these additional health recommendations:

  1. Establish special perioral dermatitis diet enriched with vitamins A, B6 and C as well as folic acid. Foods rich in folic acid are spinach, asparagus, citrus fruits, lentils, beans, peas, and avocados. Make sure your diet limits the consumption of spicy, salty and sour foods.
  1. Avoid the use of skin products containing Paraffin, Sodium lauryl sulfate, Cinnamon flavorings, Isopropyl myristat, and Vaseline.
  1. Practice gentle skin care routine. After washing your face, don’t wipe it dry with a towel but gently pat it dry instead. Use natural moisturizing creams and cooling products your doctor has advised you to.
  1. Avoid being exposed to UV radiation and strong winds. If you are obliged to spend a lot of time in the sun, protect your skin with sunscreen with at least 30 SPF. Make sure your sunscreen is not containing any harsh ingredients, and if you notice your perioral dermatitis getting worse, seek a gentler, natural sun protection alternative.