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Perioral dermatitis

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

Causes

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 that may be filled with fluid or pus
  • A similar rash may around the eyes, nose, or forehead

The rash may be mistaken for acne. Itching is not common.

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider will examine your skin to diagnose the condition. You may need to have other tests to find out if it is due to a bacterial infection.

Treatment

Do NOT use steroid creams to threat this condition.

Treatment may include skin medicines such as:

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

You may need to take antibiotic pills if the condition is severe. Antibiotics used to treat this condition include tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, or erythromycin.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Perioral dermatitis requires several months of treatment.

Bumps often return. The rash is more likely to return if you apply skin creams that contain steroids.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you notice red bumps around your mouth that do not go away.

Prevention

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

References

Acne. In: James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 13.

Acne, Rosacea, and Related Disorders. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 7.

Updated: 10/18/2013

Richard J. Moskowitz, MD, Dermatologist in Private Practice, Mineola, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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