Can't Get Rid of Perioral Dermatitis?
Your Local Dermatologist Can Help

Perioral Dermatitis

What Is Perioral Dermatitis and Who Gets It?

Perioral dermatitis is a rash that can form around the mouth. This often causes redness, swelling and acne-like bumps. The rash itself circles the mouth, but leaves a thin band of skin around the lips that looks normal. It can also cause a burning sensation around the mouth and itch. It’s sometimes called “periorificial dermatitis” because it can form elsewhere on the face. It can circle the eyes and nose, appear on the cheeks and show up on the forehead. 

In many cases, it’s not fully known what causes perioral dermatitis. Sometimes exposure to a certain facial medicine that contains a corticosteroid, whether a topical cream or an oral inhaler for asthma, can cause it. But that’s not always the cause. The rash has also been associated with the use of certain tartar-controlled or whitening tooth pastes, and those with cinnamon or fluoride. Even certain moisturizers, makeups and sunscreens have been linked to the rash.

People of all skin colors get perioral dermatitis. The rash is most common in young and middle-aged women. Children and adolescents can also get the rash, both boys and girls. Men typically don’t develop perioral dermatitis however.

Diagnosing and Treating Perioral Dermatitis

If uou have symptoms of the condition, a board-certified dermatologist can help. Many other skin issues can also cause acne-like breakouts. So an accurate diagnosis is needed, otherwise treatment can worsen the condition. 

Treatment is recommended. Without treatment, the rash can last for months or even years. An antibiotic can often provide effective results. For a mild case or if you’re pregnant, a topical cream along with a gentle moisturizer may be recommended. An oral antibiotic may also be needed. For most people, improvement can be seen after several weeks or months. If you stop taking medication too early, the rash can return. It’s important to follow your dermatologist’s instructions. You may also need to stop taking certain medications or using certain products that have a corticosteroid.

Preventing Flare-Ups

If you have this condition, following these recommended tips can help:

  • Don’t use topical corticosteroid creams on your face for more than a couple of days without a dermatologist’s recommendation. 
  • Ask your dermatologist for suggestion on moisturizers, cosmetics, toothpastes and sunscreens.
  • If you skin does flare-up, don’t treat it yourself. Some of the products you can by without a prescription may contain a corticosteroid.


Antibiotics are medicines used to stop infections created by the presence of bacteria. Learn More


A corticosteroid works by suppressing the activity of the immune system and reducing the production of chemicals that create inflammation. Learn More

Oral and Topical Medications

Dermatologists are experts in bacterial, viral and fungal infections in the skin and have a deep knowledge of how to best use antibiotics, antiviral and antifungal medications. Learn More

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