Signs & Symptoms of Perioral Dermatitis

What is Perioral Dermatitis?

Perioral Dermatits is a common skin problem that mostly affects young women. Occasionally men or children are affected. Perioral refers to the area around the mouth and dermatitis indicates redness or inflammation of the skin. In addition to the redness, there are usually small red bumps and mild peeling. Sometimes the bumps are the most common feature and it may look like acne. The areas most affected are within the borders of the lines from the nose to the sides of the lips, and the chin. There is frequent sparing of a small band of skin that borders the lips. Occasionally, the areas around the nose , eyes, and cheeks can be affected. Sometimes there is mild itching and/or burning.

How long does it last?

If not treated, Perioral dermatitis may last for months to years. Even if treated, the condition may recur several times, but usually the disorder does not return after successful treatment.

What Causes Perioral dermatitis?

The cause of perioral dermatitis is unknown. But some dermatologists believe it is a form of rosacea or sunlight worsened seborrheic dermatitis. Strong corticosteroid creams applied to the face can cause preioral dermatitis. Once perioral dermatitis develops, corticosteroid creams seem to help, but the disorder reappears when treatment is stopped. In fact perioral dermatitis usually comes back even worse than it was before use of steroid creams. Some types of makeup, moisturizers, and dental products may be partially responsible.

 Can it be Prevented?

There is no guaranteed way to prevent perioral dermatitis. Do not use strong prescription strength corticosteroid creams on the face. Your dermatologist may have suggestions about the use of moisturizers, cosmetics and sunscreens and may advise against using toothpaste with fluoride, tartar control ingredients, or cinnamon flavoring.

Are laboratory tests needed to diagnose the problem?

Most of the time, no test are necessary. A dermatologist can usually make an accurate diagnosis by just examining the skin. Sometimes, scrapping or a biopsy of the skin is done. Occasionally, blood test are ordered to eliminate other conditions that can look similar.

How is the condition treated?

An oral Antibiotic, like tetracycline, is the most common treatment for perioral dermatitis. Treatment may be needed for several months to prevent recurrence. For milder cases or pregnant women, topical antibiotic cream may be used. Ocassionalyy, your dermatologist may recommend a specific corticosteroid cream, just for a short time to help your appearance while the antibiotics are working.

What can be expected with treatment?

Most patients improve with two months  of oral antibiotics. If corticosteroids creams were used for treatment, there may be a brief flare up when the creams are stopped. If antibiotic treatment is stopped too early however, the problem can come back.


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