Have you ever experienced a red rash or breakout around your mouth, nose and chin area? In this day and age, many people might assume it’s related to mask-wearing. But it could, in fact, be perioral dermatitis: a red, bumpy rash that develops on the lower half of the face. An estimated 0.5% to 1% of people will develop it at some stage in their life, and it is more prevalent in women. It can be a huge source of discomfort – both physically and mentally – leaving many patients frustrated and in search of relief.

What causes perioral dermatitis?

The exact cause of this skin condition is not known. But it has been linked to the use of topical steroids.

Other common triggers of perioral dermatitis include:

  • A bacterial or fungal infection
  • Using toothpaste or mouthwash that contains fluoride
  • Certain sunscreens and cosmetics
  • Birth control pills or hormonal imbalances
  • A rosacea diagnosis
  • Frequent drooling and moisture around the mouth area
  • Heavy creams with ingredients such as petroleum and paraffin

The rash itself is red, bumpy, and itchy. Indicative of a compromised skin barrier, it can produce a discharge and can appear dry and scaly. While many cases clear up on their own, perioral dermatitis can keep recurring if a patient goes undiagnosed and is unaware of the appropriate treatment options or which products to avoid.

How is it treated?

Perioral dermatitis is easy to diagnose in consultation with a dermatologist but can be more complicated to treat. For those using creams or nasal sprays that contain steroids, the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology recommends that they stop if they are able to after consulting with a medical professional.

Topical antibiotics and acne medications, as well as immunosuppressant creams and oral antibiotics, can help to relieve the symptoms. Certain lifestyle changes can also stand you in good stead for clear skin ahead. These include keeping makeup use to a minimum, keeping your towels and bed linen clean and sanitary, and avoiding harsh skincare items, such as physical scrubs or perfumed products, that can disrupt the skin’s delicate mantle. Gently does it!