Perioral Dermatitis :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis (perry ORR ahl derm ah TY tiss) is a dry or bumpy rash that can occur around the mouth, the nose, and the eyes.  It can be red and scaly at times.  Sometimes it can also look like acne.  This rash is common.  It is more likely to occur in girls.  Perioral dermatitis is not contagious (cannot be spread from person to person).  

There may be more than one cause of perioral dermatitis.  These are the most common factors:

  • prolonged use of steroid creams on the area 
  • inhaled prescription steroid sprays used in the nose and mouth for asthma
  • overuse of heavy face creams and moisturizers

Topical (on the skin) corticosteroid creams may seem to help because they make the rash less red.  However, these medicines will make this condition worse over time.  

Diagnosis 

To diagnose the rash, your child’s doctor will look at:

  • the appearance of the rash
  • history of the rash
  • what may have caused the rash

Treatment 

To treat the rash, it is important to stop using any topical steroids.  Instead, your child’s doctor may prescribe: 

  • topical (on the skin) antibiotics
  • oral (by mouth) antibiotics
  • other topical anti-inflammatory medicine

This rash can be very stubborn and may require several months of treatment.  It is important to continue to use the medicine until the doctor tells you to stop.  Often, medicine and treatments should be used for several weeks after the rash appears to be gone. Even after successful treatment, sometimes the rash returns.  If this happens, follow up with your child’s doctor.

Perioral Dermatitis (PDF)

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