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Perioral dermatitis

The Toronto Dermatology Centre is one of the top clinics in Canada to manage your skin problems such as perioral dermatitis. Our staff of outstanding dermatologists offer both a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis of your skin, and also discuss all the treatment options such as prescription creams, pills, and prevention.

What is Perioral Dermatitis?
Perioral dermatitis is a common skin problem that mostly affects women. Occasionally men or children are affected. Perioral dermatitis refers to the area around the mouth, and dermatitis indicates redness of the skin. Symptoms of perioral dermatitis are: redness, there are usually small red bumps or pus bumps, and mild peeling. Sometimes the bumps are the most obvious feature, and the disease can look like acne. The areas most affected are within the borders of the lines from the nose, to the sides of the lips, and the chin. Occasionally, the areas around the nose, eyes, and cheeks can be affected. Sometimes there is mild itching or burning.

How Long Does it Last?
If not treated, perioral dermatitis may last for months to years. Even if treated, the condition may recur several times, but usually the disorder does not return after successful treatment.

What Causes Perioral Dermatitis?
The cause of perioral dermatitis is unknown. Some dermatologists believe it is a form of rosacea. Strong corticosteroid creams applied to the face can cause perioral dermatitis. Once perioral dermatitis develops, corticosteroid creams seem to help, but the disorder reappears when treatment is stopped. In fact, perioral dermatitis usually comes back even worse than it was before use of steroid creams. Some types of makeup, moisturizers, and dental products may also cause perioral dermatitis in few cases.

Can it be Prevented?
Do not use prescription corticosteroid creams on the face for more than two weeks. Your dermatologist may have suggestions about the use of moisturizers, cosmetics, and sunscreens.

How is This Condition Treated?
An oral antibiotic, like tetracycline/minocycline/doxycycline, is the most common treatment for perioral dermatitis. Treatment may be needed for several months to prevent recurrence. For milder cases, topical antibiotic creams (eg. Metrocream, Noritate, Clindamycin) and/or anti-inflammatory creams (e.g. Elidel) may be used, sometimes in combination. Occasionally, your dermatologist may recommend a specific corticosteroid cream, just for a short time to help your appearance while the antibiotics are taking time to act.

What Can be Expected With Treatment?
Most patients improve significantly within 2-3 months of treatment. If corticosteroid creams were used for treatment, there may be a flare-up when the creams are stopped. If antibiotic treatment is stopped too early, however, the problem can come back.

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