Perioral Dermatitis: Causes, Symptoms, And Home Remedies


Perioral Dermatitis: Causes, Symptoms, And Home Remedies


Perioral dermatitis is a common facial skin condition characterized by a red, bumpy rash around the mouth. Although it can affect anyone, it is most prevalent among young women. Understanding the symptoms, treatment options, home remedies, and preventive measures can help manage this condition effectively.

What is Perioral Dermatitis?

Perioral dermatitis is a common inflammatory skin condition characterized by a red, bumpy rash that typically occurs around the mouth. This condition can also extend to the areas around the nose and eyes, and in some cases, even the forehead and chin. Understanding what perioral dermatitis is, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options can help in effectively managing this often frustrating skin issue.

Perioral dermatitis is a type of facial rash that predominantly affects the perioral area (the area around the mouth). It is more common in women aged 20 to 45, but it can also affect men and children. The condition is chronic, meaning it can persist for a long time and may recur periodically.

What Causes of Perioral Dermatitis?

1. Overuse of Topical Steroids

One of the most common causes of perioral dermatitis is the prolonged use of topical corticosteroids. These steroids, often prescribed for other skin conditions, can disrupt the skin’s natural barrier and lead to inflammation when used excessively or improperly.

2. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal fluctuations, particularly in women, can trigger perioral dermatitis. This can occur due to menstrual cycles, pregnancy, or the use of hormonal contraceptives.

3. Skincare Products

Heavy creams, moisturizers, and fluoridated toothpaste can contribute to the development of perioral dermatitis. These products may clog pores and irritate the skin around the mouth.

4. Microbial Infections

Bacterial or fungal infections can sometimes play a role in the onset of perioral dermatitis. These infections can exacerbate inflammation and worsen the condition.

5. Environmental Factors

External factors such as wind, UV exposure, and certain climates can aggravate perioral dermatitis. Harsh weather conditions can dry out the skin and make it more susceptible to inflammation.

6. Genetic Predisposition

A family history of dermatitis or other skin conditions can increase the likelihood of developing perioral dermatitis. Genetic factors may influence how the skin responds to various triggers.

7. Stress

While not a direct cause, stress can exacerbate perioral dermatitis. Stress affects the body’s immune response and can trigger or worsen skin conditions.

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What Are The Common Symptoms of Perioral Dermatitis?

1. Redness and Rash

The primary symptom of perioral dermatitis is a red rash that appears around the mouth. This rash can sometimes extend to the nose and eyes.

2. Bumps and Pustules

Small, red, pus-filled bumps or pustules often appear within the rash. These bumps can resemble acne but lack the presence of blackheads or whiteheads.

3. Burning or Itching Sensation

The affected area may feel itchy or burn, causing significant discomfort. Scratching or rubbing the area can worsen the inflammation.

4. Dry and Flaky Skin

The skin around the mouth may become dry and flaky. This dryness can exacerbate the irritation and make the rash more noticeable.

5. Scaling and Peeling

In some cases, the skin around the mouth can start to scale and peel. This symptom is often accompanied by a sensation of tightness in the skin.

6. Swelling

Mild swelling may occur around the affected area. This swelling can contribute to the discomfort and visibility of the rash.

7. Absence of Comedones

Unlike acne, perioral dermatitis does not typically involve blackheads or whiteheads (comedones). This absence is a distinguishing feature of the condition.

Recognizing Perioral Dermatitis

Identifying perioral dermatitis can be challenging due to its similarity to other skin conditions like acne or rosacea. However, noting the specific location of the rash and the absence of comedones can help differentiate it. If you experience persistent or severe symptoms, it is essential to consult a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

What Are The Treatment Options for Perioral Dermatitis?

1. Discontinuing Steroids: The first step in treating perioral dermatitis is to stop using topical steroids. This might initially worsen the rash, but it is crucial for long-term healing.

2. Topical Antibiotics: Medications like metronidazole or clindamycin can help reduce inflammation and bacterial growth.

3. Oral Antibiotics: In severe cases, oral antibiotics such as tetracycline, doxycycline, or minocycline may be prescribed.

4. Anti-inflammatory Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can alleviate pain and inflammation.

5. Skincare Adjustments: Switching to mild, non-irritating skincare products and avoiding heavy creams can improve the skin condition.

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Home Remedies and Natural Treatments for Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis can be a persistent and frustrating condition. While medical treatments are often necessary, many people find relief through various home remedies and natural treatments. Here’s a comprehensive look at some effective at-home strategies to manage and soothe perioral dermatitis.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

How it works: Apple cider vinegar has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the symptoms of perioral dermatitis.


  • Dilute one part apple cider vinegar with three parts water.
  • Apply the solution to the affected area using a cotton ball.
  • Leave it on for about 15 minutes before rinsing with lukewarm water.
  • Use once daily and observe for any irritation. Discontinue use if it aggravates your skin.

2. Aloe Vera

How it works: Aloe vera is known for its soothing and healing properties. It can help reduce redness and inflammation associated with perioral dermatitis.


  • Extract fresh aloe vera gel from an aloe leaf.
  • Apply the gel directly to the affected area.
  • Leave it on for 20-30 minutes before rinsing with cool water.
  • Repeat twice daily for best results.

3. Probiotics

How it works: Probiotics help balance the gut microbiome, which can influence skin health. Oral probiotics or probiotic-rich foods can support a healthy immune response and potentially reduce inflammation.


  • Incorporate probiotic-rich foods into your diet, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
  • Consider taking a probiotic supplement, but consult with a healthcare provider for the appropriate type and dosage.

4. Oatmeal Masks

How it works: Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, making it an effective natural remedy for irritated skin.


  • Mix two tablespoons of colloidal oatmeal with enough water to form a paste.
  • Apply the paste to the affected area and leave it on for 15-20 minutes.
  • Rinse off with lukewarm water and pat the skin dry.
  • Use this mask 2-3 times a week.

5. Honey

How it works: Honey is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. It can help heal the skin and reduce symptoms of perioral dermatitis.


  • Apply a thin layer of raw, organic honey to the affected area.
  • Leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
  • Repeat once daily until you see improvement.

6. Tea Tree Oil

How it works: Tea tree oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat skin infections and reduce inflammation.


  • Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil.
  • Apply the mixture to the affected area using a cotton ball.
  • Leave it on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
  • Use once daily, and discontinue if irritation occurs.

7. Coconut Oil

How it works: Coconut oil has moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties, which can soothe dry and irritated skin.


  • Apply a small amount of virgin coconut oil to the affected area.
  • Gently massage it into the skin and leave it on.
  • Use twice daily for best results.

8. Calendula

How it works: Calendula has anti-inflammatory and healing properties that can help reduce the symptoms of perioral dermatitis.


  • Use a calendula cream or ointment and apply it to the affected area.
  • Alternatively, brew calendula tea, let it cool, and use it as a compress.
  • Apply the compress for 10-15 minutes, twice daily.

9. Dietary Changes

How it works: Diet can play a significant role in skin health. Certain foods may trigger inflammation, while others can help reduce it.


  • Avoid spicy foods, processed foods, and foods high in sugar.
  • Increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods, such as fatty fish, leafy greens, nuts, and berries.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

10. Stress Management

How it works: Stress can exacerbate skin conditions, including perioral dermatitis. Managing stress can help improve overall skin health.


  • Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
  • Engage in regular physical activity to reduce stress levels.
  • Ensure you get adequate sleep and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Preventive Measures

1. Avoid Topical Steroids: Use topical steroids only when prescribed by a healthcare provider and for the shortest duration necessary.

2. Gentle Skincare Routine: Opt for gentle, fragrance-free skincare products and avoid harsh cleansers and heavy moisturizers.

3. Fluoride-Free Toothpaste: Switching to a fluoride-free toothpaste may help prevent flare-ups.

4. Protect Against the Elements: Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen and protective clothing to shield your skin from harsh environmental factors.

5. Healthy Diet and Hydration: Maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated to support overall skin health.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience persistent or severe symptoms of perioral dermatitis, it is essential to consult a dermatologist. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend a tailored treatment plan.


Perioral dermatitis is a manageable condition with the right approach. By understanding the symptoms, avoiding triggers, and following appropriate treatment protocols, you can achieve healthier, clearer skin. Always seek professional medical advice for the best outcomes and personalized care.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Is perioral dermatitis contagious?

No, perioral dermatitis is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person.

Q2. Can makeup worsen perioral dermatitis?

Yes, certain makeup products, especially heavy or oil-based ones, can aggravate perioral dermatitis. Opt for non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic makeup.

Q3. How long does it take for perioral dermatitis to clear up?

With proper treatment, perioral dermatitis can take several weeks to a few months to clear up. It’s important to follow your dermatologist’s recommendations consistently.

Q4. Can stress cause perioral dermatitis?

Stress alone is not a direct cause, but it can exacerbate existing skin conditions, including perioral dermatitis.

Q5. Are there any long-term effects of perioral dermatitis?

Perioral dermatitis typically does not cause long-term damage if treated properly. However, neglecting treatment can lead to prolonged discomfort and skin issues.

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