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Nov 04, 2019

What Is Perioral Dermatitis?

perioral dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis is one of those conditions that you might recognise, even if you didn’t know it had a name! For some people perioral dermatitis is a mild and temporary irritation, but for others it can be a persistent and serious problem, causing them pain and distress.

What does perioral dermatitis look like?

Perioral dermatitis is characterised by a bumpy rash around the nose and mouth, although it can spread up to the face as far as the eyes and forehead, where it’s known as periorificial or periocular dermatitis.

The rash can be spotty, a bit like acne, and can be scaly and inflamed-looking. On dark skin, it can be misdiagnosed as the inflammation may not be as obvious, and the rash can appear as hyper-pigmented spots (see this article). In pale skin, the rash is more likely to look red and hot. Sometimes perioral dermatitis can be weepy with clear fluid. It can feel itchy and sore, especially around the folds of the nostrils.

Who gets perioral dermatitis?

The condition occurs most frequently in women and girls, particularly between the ages of 16-45 years, although it can affect anyone, including babies and children. 

It can also occur in people who’ve used topical steroid creams on their face, or have used steroid inhalers.

How long does it last?

It’s very hard to say how long a flare-up of perioral dermatitis will last: for some the rash can come and go in a few days, but for others it can last for weeks, or even become a semi-permanent problem that no amount of treatment can seem to shift.

For a suggested skincare routine for perioral dermatitis, see our article What's The Best Moisturiser For Perioral Dermatitis?

Important Note

If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.

If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.

Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.

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