Perioral Dermatitis
Can Look Like Atopic Eczema, But They're Not Treated The Same

Perioral dermatitis is a condition mainly found on the face, around the mouth. It can also appear around your cheeks, nose and eyes.

It affects mainly women, aged between 25 and 45 years. It can affect men, children and the elderly, but is much less common.

It is thought that there could be a future increase in male sufferers.

There are some suggestions that some facial creams, like moisturisers, can make the condition worse.

As more men now use these products, the risk of developing it increases.


The main symptom is small red spots. The skin around the spots can look red and inflamed. If there are a lot of spots together then a larger area of your skin can look very inflamed and sore.

The affected area can feel like it is burning, and may have a stinging sensation. It doesn't tend to be itchy, so that is different from eczema.This condition can look like some types of eczema.


It is important to get the correct diagnosis before treating the rash. Using the wrong medication could cause the condition to get worse.


The exact cause is unknown.

There are a few things that may cause an outbreak.

  • Using topical steroid creams and ointments. This is one reason that a correct diagnosis is important. If you assume that it is eczema and treat it with topical steroids it is likely to spread
  • Some of the face creams and make up that you use may include ingredients that could cause an outbreak to occur
  • There are some reports that suggest that yeast and bacteria, that live in the skin and hair follicles, may be an issue for some people

It would help to treat and manage your skin if you are able to pinpoint what has triggered the condition. Take note of the products you use, and when a rash appears.

It is recommended that you stop using any creams, lotions and ointments on the affected area. Preferably as soon as it appears.

Perioral Dermatitis Treatment

There are a couple of things you can do that can help to alleviate the problem. They are a simple perioral dermatitis treatment. You can do them in addition to the medication prescribed by your doctor.

  • the first thing your doctor will ask you to do is to stop using topical steroids on the area. You may find that the condition may get worse for a few days, but should then start improving
  • you should also stop using any other creams and lotions on your face. They may irritate your skin, making it more red and inflamed
  • when washing your face only use warm water, no soap. Once your skin has cleared use a chemical and soap free cleansing bar
  • your doctor may prescribe you with a course of antibiotics. You would take them for around 6-12 weeks. They are taken for this amount of time as there may not be any improvement in the dermatitis for the first few weeks of taking them

Perioral dermatitis is normally relatively easy to treat and manage. After finishing a course of antibiotics the condition may return. Then the same steps can be taken.

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