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Last Updated Feb 24, 2024

How to Treat Perioral Dermatitis

Author
|
Board-Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Muneeb Shah

What is perioral dermatitis?

Perioral dermatitis is a benign skin rash typically observed in young adult women, featuring small pink papules and pustules primarily around the mouth. One really well-known feature is sparing of the area directly around the lips. Sometimes it affects the area around the eyes and we call this "periorificial dermatitis."

Pink rash on the mouth

We used to think that rosacea and perioral dermatitis were the same condition because both respond to similar treatments. However, most dermatologists now consider these to be separate conditions.

What causes perioral dermatitis?

The cause of perioral dermatitis is unknown in most cases. Here are examples of some known causes:

  • Topical corticosteroids 
  • Irritating skincare products or make-up
  • Hormonal fluctuations, particularly those associated with the menstrual cycle or oral contraceptives
  • Exposure to harsh environmental elements like UV rays and wind
  • Ingredients found in certain toothpastes, such as fluoride
  • Yeast, bacteria, or mite infections 

How to treat perioral dermatitis? 

  • Stop using topical steroids!
  • Avoid irritating skincare ingredients 
  • Topical over the counter ingredients: Azelaic acid, zinc oxide barrier creams, fragrance-free moisturizers
  • Topical prescriptions: Metronidazole, ivermectin, calcineurin inhibitors (tacrolimus)
  • Oral prescriptions: Oral tetracyclines (doxycycline)

Doctor's Note

  • The cause of perioral dermatitis is often unknown
  • Topical steroids are a common culprit
  • Azelaic acid and zinc barrier creams are great options over the counter
  • There are a myriad of prescription options available from your dermatologist

The Research

  • Searle T, Ali FR, Al-Niaimi F. Perioral dermatitis: Diagnosis, proposed etiologies, and management. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021

Dr. Muneeb Shah

Board-Certified Dermatologist

Dr. Muneeb Shah headshot

Dr. Muneeb Shah

Board-Certified Dermatologist

Dr. Muneeb Shah is a double Board-Certified Dermatologist and Micrographic Dermatologic Surgeon in Hudson Yards, New York. He is passionate about educating the public on common skin issues and has accrued a following of 21+ million across his social media platforms on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

Location: New York City, NY

Doctor's Note

  • The cause of perioral dermatitis is often unknown
  • Topical steroids are a common culprit
  • Azelaic acid and zinc barrier creams are great options over the counter
  • There are a myriad of prescription options available from your dermatologist

The Research

  • Searle T, Ali FR, Al-Niaimi F. Perioral dermatitis: Diagnosis, proposed etiologies, and management. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021

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