Wednesday, July 24, 2024

My Perioral Dermatitis Looked Like Dry Skin Around My Mouth

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During a particularly stressful time, I had a flare-up of perioral dermatitis (PD), a scaly red rash, to the right of my mouth. It’s something I had never even heard of, and definitely was not the run-of-the-mill dry skin that I assumed it to be when it first cropped up.

It turns out that perioral dermatitis is somewhat common both around the mouth and under the nose. After I posted about it on my Instagram Stories, multiple people messaged me to say that they, too, have experienced the skin condition. Unfortunately for me, each of them had pretty different advice for how to treat it. Some told me to exfoliate with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), others said to use only the most gentle skin-care products. Many said a topical antibiotic cream was all that would work.

For something so common, why is there so much confusion? I talked to experts to figure out how to treat the rash around my mouth called perioral dermatitis, which could be dry and itchy and is often mistaken for eczema around the mouth and nose.

Meet the experts:

In this story:

What is periorial dermatitis?

What is periorial dermatitis, exactly? Well, for starters, it is a facial rash that usually shows up around the mouth, Corey L. Hartman, a board-certified dermatologist in Birmingham, Alabama, has told Allure. It can pop up in other areas as well — around the nose, chin, even the outer parts of the eyelids, and cheeks — and usually presents as red and bumpy, so it may be mistaken for other skin conditions, like acne or rosacea. Unlike acne, it can be itchy, although that’s not always the case, so if you have red bumps around your mouth it’s best to see a dermatologist who can help diagnose.

The rash is not contagious, and it’s not totally clear what causes it — but it may be that something is irritating the skin (moisturizer, or even toothpaste) or that you’re allergic to an ingredient in your skin care. Or it it may be a reaction to longtime use of a corticosteroid medication, says Dr. Hartman. Sometimes, the bumps can be puss filled, adds Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. I

What causes perioral dermatitis?

“Despite being common, we still do not understand why perioral dermatitis develops,” Zeichner explains. According to him, there are many theories, including the use of topical cortisone creams, fluorinated toothpaste, heavy skin-care products, asthma inhalers, and — yep — stress.

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