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Perioral dermatitis is dermatitis that affects the skin around the lips and mouth. In spite of many different types of rash which may occur around the mouth, the very term perioral dermatitis refers to a rash made of small scaly bumps which form clusters around the mouth (and may also occur around the nose and eyes) and is most common in children as well as young women.

Causes of Perioral Dermatitis

The leading cause of perioral dermatitis is application of strong corticosteroid creams on the face. These creams help people suffering from eczema, psoriasis and allergy to poison ivy, but also irritate the skin and cause typical rash. In some individuals the rash develops because they inhale corticosteroid due to the underlying condition they are suffering from (asthma or hay fever).

Furthermore, such dermatitis may develop as a consequence of prolonged usage of toothpaste that contains some whitening and Tartar control agents. It is also possible that irritation originates from constant wetting of the area around the mouth with saliva. This is commonly seen among children and oral surgery patients.

Individuals who are already suffering from atopic dermatitis and eczema are more susceptible to perioral dermatitis.

And finally, experts have tried to find the connection between perioral dermatitis and several infections caused by Candida, fusiform bacteria and demodex mites. Until now they have not managed to relate these infections to perioral dermatitis.

Individuals Most Susceptible to Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis most commonly affects children and young women. Boys and girls are almost equally affected by the condition. Only adult men are the group which is not so prone to this type of dermatitis. And finally, there is no difference when it comes to different races and ethnic groups and occurrence of the condition.

Clinical Characteristics of Perioral Dermatitis

The rash forms around the lips and mouth. It may be itchy or without any accompanying problems. The only thing that bothers patients is its unsightly appearance.

Apart from the surrounding of the lips, such rash may also affect the chin, the skin around the nostrils and the skin around the eyes. The rash does not have to be symmetrical but it comprises tiny, uniform, flesh-colored and pink bumps. The skin may be flaky and scaly and is sometimes covered with pustules. In children the bumps are generally yellowish or dark-colored. The size of the bumps usually does not exceed 2 mm.

Treatment and Prevention of Perioral Dermatitis

In order to prevent perioral dermatitis, one should avoid application of strong corticosteroid creams on the face and if this is not possible, to reduce the length of such application or replace the cream with a milder one.

The rash may subside once the person stops using toothpaste and other products containing ingredients responsible for the rash.

Additional measures include some oral or topical medications. And if there is an infection, patients are prescribed antibiotics.

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