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  5. Perioral Dermatitis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments & Prevention

Have you noticed a red, inflamed rash on the skin around your mouth? Does it itch?

It could be perioral dermatitis, a condition that is often mistaken as acne.

Perioral dermatitis usually goes away on its own. However, there are effective treatments to prevent its recurrence.

Here, we tell you what causes the condition and how you can deal with it.

What Is Perioral Dermatitis?

Perioral dermatitis (PD) is a skin condition in which the skin around your mouth develops a rash with red and inflamed bumps or papules [1]. The surrounding areas of the skin turn pink while the skin texture becomes dry and flaky. Typically, perioral dermatitis begins from the bordering of your lips and then extends towards the cheeks.

“Though perioral dermatitis appears around the mouth, it can spread to other parts of the face such as around your nose, eyes, eyelids, chin, and forehead. Some people may also experience conjunctivitis when they have perioral dermatitis,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.

Perioral dermatitis is mostly developed by women between 15-45 years of age. It is rarely found in children [2].

What Does Perioral Dermatitis Look Like?

womans face perioral dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis develops as a red rash around the mouth. The surrounding areas of the skin turn pink while the skin texture becomes dry and flaky. It begins from the border of the lips and then extends towards the cheeks.

What Triggers Perioral Dermatitis?

As per Ayurveda, perioral dermatitis is linked to aggravated Vata (predominantly), Pitta, and Kapha doshas in the body.

Below are some of the common triggering factors of perioral dermatitis:

  • Topical steroid-based ointments [3] or nasal steroid sprays for inhalation(prescribed).
  • Unsuitable, harsh, or heavy skincare products and cosmetics that contain parabens or petroleum base.
  • Hormonal fluctuations in the body.
  • Fluoridated toothpaste or mouth cleansers [4].
  • Dental fillings.
  • Chewing gums.
  • Immunity disorders.
  • Disturbance in your skin microbiome or cutaneous microflora that cause an overgrowth of different types of microbes such as follicular fusiform (bacteria), demodex mites, candida albicans, etc.

Signs Of Perioral Dermatitis

  • Red and scaly rash around the mouth
  • Dryness and flakiness
  • Tiny Inflamed bumps or papules
  • Vesicles or pustules (fluid-filled blisters) in some cases.
  • Itchiness
  • Burning sensation

woman suffering from topical steroid withdrawal

Does Perioral Dermatitis Go Away?

Mostly, perioral dermatitis gets resolved on its own with time. However, in some cases it may take weeks, months or even years. “Although the rash is likely to be controlled after some weeks of treatment, it might return if you stop the treatment. In rare cases, it may become a permanent problem if left untreated,” says Dr. Zeel.

How To Cure Perioral Dermatitis Faster?

1. Ayurvedic Treatments

A. Herbal Treatments

1. Haridra (Turmeric): It balances all the three doshas. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties which are very helpful in treating perioral dermatitis.

How To Use Haridra: Prepare a paste by adding water to a spoon of turmeric powder. Apply it to your face and rinse it off after half an hour.

2. Zergul (Calendula): It balances Pitta and Kapha doshas. Zergul is a very effective treatment if your perioral dermatitis has a pus-filled rash. It has powerful anti-fungal properties.

How To Use Zergul: Apply calendula oil on the affected area. Leave it overnight and rinse your face the next morning.

3. Nimba (Neem): It balances Pitta and Kapha doshas. Neem has strong antimicrobial and analgesic properties, which makes it an effective choice for treating perioral dermatitis.

How To Use Nimba: You can apply neem oil on the affected area and massage it for a few minutes. After half an hour, rinse it off with water. You can also take neem capsules which help in boosting your immune system.

4. Grape Seed: It balances Vata and Pitta doshas. It is the best herbal solution to remove toxins and bacterial growth on your face as it has natural antibacterial and soothing properties.

How To Use Grape Seed: Apply grape seed oil on the rash and leave it overnight. Wash it off with lukewarm water the next morning.

5. Kumari (Aloe Vera): It balances all the three doshas. Aloe vera has natural anti-inflammatory agents and provides a calming effect to your skin. Also, it reduces redness and itching.

How To Use Kumari: Apply freshly extracted aloe vera gel on the affected area and rinse it off after half an hour.

B. Essential Oils

Lavender oil and tea tree oil are the two most effective treatments for perioral dermatitis. You have to dilute these essential oils before applying them to your skin.

“You can add 10-15 drops of essential oils to a cup of light oils such as argan oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, etc.,” says Dr. Zeel.

Vedix Tip: Before using essential oils for your skin conditions, do a patch test by applying it to a small area inside your forearm. You can use the oil on your face if you do not have any allergy in the applied spot for 48 hours.

2. Home Remedies

A. Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix apple cider vinegar and water in a 1:3 ratio. Apply this mixture on the affected area using a cotton ball. Leave it for half an hour and then rinse it off with lukewarm water.

B. Honey

Apply raw honey on the rash and wash it off after half an hour. Repeat twice a day.

C. Yogurt

Apply plain yogurt on the affected area and leave it for half an hour. Later, rinse it off and pat dry.

D. Clay

Apply the paste made of bentonite clay and water on the affected area on your face. After 10-15 minutes, rinse it off. Do not try this remedy if you have dry skin.

E. Hydrogen Peroxide

Dilute 3% hydrogen peroxide in equal parts of water. Apply it to perioral dermatitis using a cotton ball and rinse it off after 10-15 minutes. Repeat twice a day.

closeup of 3% hydrogen peroxide bottle

F. Colloidal Silver

Combine colloidal silver and aloe vera gel. Apply the mixture to the affected area and rinse it off after 20 minutes.

3. Other Medical Treatments

  • Topical ointments such as erythromycin, clindamycin lotion, metronidazole cream, etc.
  • Oral antibiotics such as low-dose isotretinoin, minocycline, doxycycline, tetracycline, oral erythromycin, etc. [5]
  • Topical acne medications such as azelaic acid, adapalene, etc.
  • Immunosuppressant creams such as tacrolimus or pimecrolimus.

How To Prevent Perioral Dermatitis?

  • Do not use steroid-based topical ointments or creams unless directed by your dermatologist. If you have a history of perioral dermatitis, you should discuss it with your doctor beforehand.
  • Stay away from heavy skin creams or cosmetics.
  • Use mild and gentle cleansers and moisturizers that are well-suited for your skin type.
  • Limit your skin exposure to environmental factors such as heat, UV rays, wind, etc. which may trigger perioral dermatitis.
  • Always use sunscreen before going out in the sun.
  • Eat spicy and salty foods in limited amounts.
  • If you have a rash on your face, then avoid using soap until it reduces. Instead, you can just use lukewarm water to rinse your face.
  • Keep your personal items such as mobile phones, pillowcases, towels, etc. very clean.

How To Diagnose Perioral Dermatitis?

Typically, your doctor may diagnose perioral dermatitis by a visual examination. If needed, your doctor may ask for a skin biopsy to differentiate and identify perioral dermatitis among other dermatitis types.

FAQs On Perioral Dermatitis

1. Is Perioral Dermatitis Hormonal?

Yes. Hormonal factors may play a significant role in the development and progression of perioral dermatitis, especially in women. The condition may worsen during pregnancy, menstruation or while taking oral contraceptives that tweak different hormone levels in the body.

2. Is Perioral Dermatitis Contagious?

No. Perioral dermatitis is not contagious and does not spread to other people by any means.

3. Should You Moisturize Perioral Dermatitis?

You should not use a heavy moisturizer that clogs your skin pores when you have perioral dermatitis. Instead, you should moisturize your skin with a light moisturizer that is suitable for your skin type to keep it hydrated.

4. How Long Does It Take For Perioral Dermatitis To Clear Up?

You may notice an improvement in your skin 6-12 weeks after you start your treatment for perioral dermatitis.

Important Note:

Please take the above-mentioned treatments for perioral dermatitis only under the guidance of your doctor or Ayurvedic consultant.

The Last Word

Your perioral dermatitis condition may get worse if you do not treat it as soon as you notice symptoms or don’t follow your treatment plan for a significant period. Even though your rash gets clear after a few weeks of treatment, you need to stay away from steroids or face creams with harsh chemicals. It is highly recommended to religiously follow the instructions of your doctor or Ayurvedic practitioner to deal with perioral dermatitis with ease.

At Vedix, we analyze your skin problems, based on which we customize a dosha balancing Ayurvedic skincare regimen for you.

Know Your Dosha Now

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