DermNet NZ

Facts about the skin from DermNet New Zealand Trust. Topic index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Perioral dermatitis

What is perioral dermatitis?

Perioral dermatitis is a common facial skin problem in which groups of itchy or tender small red papules (bumps) appear around the mouth. The papules spare the skin bordering the lips (which then appears pale) but develop on the sides of the chin, and then spread to include upper lip and cheeks. The surrounding skin may be pink, and the skin surface often becomes dry and flaky.

When provoked by topical steroid use, perioral dermatitis is often called steroid rosacea.

Perioral dermatitis Perioral dermatitis Perioral dermatitis
Periorial dermatitis

Periorificial dermatitis

Periorificial dermatitis is the name used for the same disorder when it spreads to sites other than around the mouth. These include:

Periocular dermatitis Periocular dermatitis Periocular dermatitis
Periocular dermatitis

More images of perioral, periocular and periorificial dermatitis ...

Granulomatous periorificial dermatitis

Granulomatous periorificial dermatitis refers to a papulo-pustular periorificial disease that shows a mixed inflammatory or granulomatous perifollicular infiltrate on histopathology. It presents with persistent yellowish papules around the mouth.

Who gets perioral dermatitis?

Perioral dermatitis and its variants mainly affect adult women. These disorders are uncommon in men. Perioral dermatitis may occasionally affect prepubertal children.

What is the cause of perioral or periorificial dermatitis?

The exact cause of perioral dermatitis and/or periorificial dermatitis is not understood. It is thought to be a variant of rosacea, which is now known to be due to a complex activation of the innate immune system. Patients who are susceptible to perioral dermatitis tend to have an oily face, at least in the affected areas. The rash may be induced by:

Perioral dermatitis may be related to an imbalance of, or immune reaction to, proliferating bacteria and/or yeasts in the hair follicles.

What is the treatment for perioral dermatitis?

Luckily perioral dermatitis responds well to treatment.

Depending on the severity of dermatitis, topical or systemic therapy may be prescribed. It may take a few weeks after starting treatment before there is noticeable improvement.

Perioral dermatitis sometimes recurs when the antibiotics are discontinued, or at a later date. The same treatment can be used again.

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Author: Reviewed and updated by Dr Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand and Vanessa Ngan, Staff Writer, February 2014.

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If you have any concerns with your skin or its treatment, see a dermatologist for advice.