Perioral dermatitis

Definition

Perioral dermatitis is a skin disorder in which tiny red bumps form around the mouth.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The exact cause of perioral dermatitis is unknown. It may occur after using face creams containing steroids for another condition.

Young women are most likely to get this condition.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Burning feeling around the mouth
  • Bumps around the mouth, may be filled with fluid or pus
  • A similar rash may appear around the eyes, nose, or forehead and may be mistaken for acne

Itching is not a common symptom.

Signs and tests

Your doctor or nurse can usually diagnose this condition by looking at your skin. Sometimes, tests are done to see if bacteria is causing an infection.

Treatment

Steroid skin creams should NOT be used to treat this condition.

Treatment may include skin medicines such as:

  • Metronidazole
  • Erythromycin
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Tacrolimus
  • Clindamycin
  • Pimecrolimus
  • Sodium sulfacetamide with sulfur

If the condition is severe, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics taken by mouth. Antibiotics used to treat this condition include tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, or erythromycin.

Expectations (prognosis)

Perioral dermatitis is difficult to treat effectively. It often requires several months of treatment.

Bumps usually return, particularly if you put skin creams containing steroids on your face.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you notice persistent red bumps around your mouth.

Prevention

Avoid using skin creams containing steroids on your face, unless specifically directed by your dermatologist.

Figures

Revision

Last reviewed 11/22/2011 by Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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