Perioral Dermatitis: Why Is There a Rash Around My Mouth?

Rash around mouth treatment

You'd think that a mouth rash, known as perioral dermatitis, would only affect babies and toddlers, but there are some things that can cause red, irritated skin around your mouth at any age. The causes, however, are usually different, especially because adults use different products that may cause irritation. Prevention is the best way to get rid of a rash around the mouth once and for all, but that first requires some detective work to discern exactly what could be causing your skin to react.

Perioral Dermatitis Symptoms:

The type of rash you experience depends heavily on the cause. If it is the result of clogged, irritated pores, you may experience pus-filled bumps that mimic acne. Others might have dry, scaly skin, while another type is simple redness that occurs after using certain irritating products. Your skin might feel hot or itchy, but resist the urge to scratch. Scratching might make the rash worse.

Most mouth rashes are localised around the mouth and won't spread unless it's the symptom of a more serious issue. According to FPA, some sexually transmitted diseases can cause a rash in and around the mouth. Herpes, for example, often causes cold sores and lesions around the mouth, as well as a general sense of fatigue and fever. If your mouth rash comes with other symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, rashes and lesions in other areas of the body, or sores inside of your mouth, see your doctor. It could be a sign of a more serious issue.

Mouth Rash Causes:

Perioral dermatitis may be the result of a few different things. Your skin's surface can be sensitive to changes in topical products, so that should be one of the first causes to consider. According to the Primary Care Dermatology Society, here are some of the most common causes:

  • Topical steroids, such as hydrocortisone, applied either on purpose or by accident around the mouth
  • Cosmetics, moisturisers and sunscreensHowever the exact cause is not understood.

The good news? In most cases, perioral dermatitis can be dealt with quickly as long as you identify what might be causing the rash. In some cases, it may require a bit of trial and error, as well as thinking about any changes to your skin care or hormones that could be causing the red, irritated skin.

Perioral Dermatitis Treatment and Prevention:

The British Association of Dermatologists notes that an important strategy for treatment is to stop applying all face creams, which could be causing irritation. This is especially true for topical steroids, as well as sunscreen, make-up, lotion or fluoridated toothpaste. Your dermatologist might also suggest a topical or oral antibiotic to help combat any infection that could be causing red, scaly patches around your mouth.

When you have a rash, stop using any scented face washes. Instead, swap it for warm water until the rash clears, and then start using a mild scent-free soap or soap alternative. You can ask your dermatologist for suggestions. Make sure to practise good skin hygiene, cleanse nightly, and launder your pillowcases frequently. Try avoiding spicy or acidic foods, since they can get on your skin and cause it to break out in a rash.

Luckily, you don't have to deal with a rash for long: isolate the cause and come up with alternatives to give your skin a break, heal the rash and avoid an outbreak in the future. Remember to take just as good care of the inside of your mouth. Keep up great oral hygiene habits and consider adding a mouthwash to your routine.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.  

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