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Understanding Perioral Dermatitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Perioral dermatitis is a common skin condition that primarily affects the area around the mouth. While it may not be harmful to overall health, it can be a source of discomfort and self-consciousness for those who experience it. In this blog, we will delve into what perioral dermatitis is, its symptoms, potential causes including toothpaste, and effective treatment options.

What is Perioral Dermatitis?

Perioral dermatitis is a facial rash that typically occurs around the mouth, but it can also affect the nose, eyes, and forehead. It is characterized by small, red, inflamed bumps or papules, and may sometimes have a scale-like appearance. The exact cause of perioral dermatitis is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to a combination of factors including genetics, hormonal changes, skin care products, and environmental triggers.


The symptoms of perioral dermatitis may vary from person to person, but common signs include:

1. Redness and inflammation around the mouth.

2. Small, red bumps or papules that may be itchy or tender.

3. Dry, flaky, or scaly skin.

4. Burning or stinging sensation.

5. Occasionally, the rash may spread to the chin, cheeks, or forehead.


While the exact cause of perioral dermatitis remains unclear, several factors may contribute to its development:

1. Topical Steroids: Prolonged use of topical steroid creams or ointments on the face can trigger or exacerbate perioral dermatitis.

2. Skin Care Products: Certain skin care products, such as moisturizers, cosmetics, or sunscreen containing ingredients like fragrances, parabens, or sulfates, may irritate the skin and lead to the development of perioral dermatitis.

3. Hormonal Factors: Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during puberty, pregnancy, or menstrual cycles, may play a role in the onset of perioral dermatitis.

4. Environmental Triggers: Exposure to harsh weather conditions, excessive sunlight, or pollutants may worsen symptoms in some individuals.

5. Toothpaste: Some toothpaste formulations contain ingredients like fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), or flavorings that can irritate the skin around the mouth, leading to perioral dermatitis in susceptible individuals.

Treatment and Prevention:

The treatment of perioral dermatitis typically involves a combination of topical and oral medications, along with certain lifestyle modifications. Here are some effective treatment and prevention strategies:

1. Discontinue Topical Steroids: If topical steroids are identified as the cause, it is important to gradually taper off their use under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

2. Avoid Triggering Products: Identify and avoid skin care products, cosmetics, or toothpaste containing potential irritants or allergens.

3. Gentle Skin Care Routine: Use gentle, fragrance-free cleansers and moisturizers formulated for sensitive skin.

4. Oral Antibiotics: In more severe cases, oral antibiotics such as tetracycline or erythromycin may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and control bacterial overgrowth. Be very careful taking antibiotics as this can be a quick fix, but

5. Dietary Changes: Some individuals may find relief by avoiding spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, or other dietary triggers that exacerbate symptoms.

6. Sun Protection: Use sunscreen with a high SPF to protect the skin from harmful UV rays, as sun exposure can aggravate perioral dermatitis.

7. Consult a Dermatologist: If symptoms persist or worsen despite self-care measures, consult a dermatologist for further evaluation and treatment.

8. Gut Bacteria: Taking gut bacteria, such as probiotics, can be beneficial for individuals with perioral dermatitis due to the strong connection between gut health and skin conditions. Research suggests that imbalances in the gut microbiome, characterized by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and a decrease in beneficial bacteria, may contribute to inflammation and immune dysregulation, which can manifest as skin disorders like perioral dermatitis. By replenishing and maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria through probiotic supplementation or dietary changes, it is possible to support immune function, reduce systemic inflammation, and potentially improve skin health. While more studies are needed to fully understand the specific mechanisms involved, incorporating probiotics into one's daily regimen may offer additional support in managing perioral dermatitis and promoting overall well-being.

Perioral dermatitis can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition, but with proper treatment and care, most individuals can achieve significant improvement in their symptoms. By identifying potential triggers, adopting a gentle skincare routine, and seeking professional medical advice when needed, it is possible to manage and alleviate the symptoms of perioral dermatitis effectively. If you suspect you may have perioral dermatitis, consult a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Mary Gillmore, Owner


7 Well Court, EC4M9DN

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