What is perioral dermatitis?


Perioral dermatitis is a chronic rash that appears most often around the mouth. The rash is usually a red, scaly rash that may be mildly itchy. It can also spread to the nose and around the eyes. This condition is seen in both children and adults .

James Heilman, MD / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0


If your child has an irritated rash and you are treating him with a steroid cream , he may develop perioral dermatitis. While steroids can help clear the rash, the rash can get worse over time and eventually stop responding to the steroid cream.

If you or your child are using a steroid cream and think you have developed perioral dermatitis, stop using the steroid cream. It is important to note that the rash will get worse after you stop taking steroids, but then gradually disappear.

In addition to steroid creams, inhaled steroid sprays can also cause perioral dermatitis. If your rash is caused by a steroid spray, it will most likely improve when you stop using the spray. If you need a long-term spray, talk to your doctor about alternative medications or delivery options.

Thick face cream, irritating makeup, or fluoride toothpaste can also cause this condition. Rosacea also increases the likelihood of perioral dermatitis.

Perioral dermatitis can affect children of any age; however, it is more common in women between the ages of 19 and 40 .


If you suspect you have perioral dermatitis, see a dermatologist. There is no test to diagnose this condition. Your healthcare provider will make a diagnosis based on the appearance of the rash.

In most cases, especially after stopping the use of steroid creams, perioral dermatitis goes away on its own. If you or your child's rash persists, see a dermatologist to rule out other similar conditions, including:

  • Impetigo – This highly contagious skin infection is common in school-age children. If your child has red, oozing sores around his nose or mouth, he may have impetigo.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis : If the rash spreads to the folds around your child's nose and causes flaking behind the ears and eyebrows, they may have seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Angular cheilitis : Inflammation in the corners of the mouth may be due to an iron deficiency.
  • Lip Licking Dermatitis : Children often suck their lower lip with their upper lip or simply lick their lips, especially in winter. As the skin around the lips becomes dry and irritated, your baby may develop a rash. Perioral dermatitis can develop with steroid treatment.

Watch out

Your healthcare professional may recommend stopping the steroid cream or spray as a first step. If you or your child have perioral dermatitis, skip the generous face wash and cream and choose a mild face soap until the rash heals.

Sometimes a topical or oral antibiotic is also needed to treat perioral dermatitis. Common treatments for perioral dermatitis may include oral azithromycin (an antibiotic), Elidel topical cream (commonly used medications for eczema), topical erythromycin and metronidazole, and discontinuation of the steroid cream.

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