Rash Around the Mouth? Perioral Dermatitis And What It Means For You

You try to take care of your skin, but despite applying sunscreen and regularly cleansing and moisturising your face, you may still notice a rash around your mouth. As far as skin conditions go, MedlinePlus notes that rashes around the mouth are most likely to affect young women and children, but can ultimately affect anyone. This condition is called perioral dermatitis, and its causes might surprise you. By understanding what it is and how to treat it, you can soothe your rash to reveal healthy, glowing skin once again.

Rash Around the Mouth: Causes

People with sensitive skin are most likely to suffer from perioral dermatitis, as it's generally associated with topical products. This means the very products you use to keep your skin and mouth healthy could be causing your rash break-out. Here are some of the most common causes of the condition:

  • Topical steroid creams
  • Inhaled steroids
  • Poor skin hygiene, such as failing to wash your face regularly
  • Using too many irritating topical products
  • Fluoridated toothpaste
  • Make-up
  • Hormonal changes or taking oral contraceptives
  • An oral infection

Different individuals may experience different symptoms of perioral dermatitis, but it generally manifests as red, flaky skin around the mouth, a burning sensation, bumps, and even an accompanying rash on the nose, forehead and cheeks.

Treatment Options

Perioral dermatitis is typically treated by a dermatologist, but your treatment plan will vary depending on the cause of the rash. MedlinePlus recommends stopping the use of any products that could be irritating your skin, including new make-up, harsh cleansers and sunscreen. Instead, substitute your usual cleanser with warm water and, with your doctor's permission, a mild soap. You can also talk to your doctor about any steroid medications you may be taking or applying, and adjust your dosage to account for your rash.

For stubborn cases, the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology suggests stopping the use of fluoridated toothpaste. If your dermatologist thinks your rash may be due to using fluoridated toothpaste, consider using a fluoride-free toothpaste instead. It's unlikely that you'll have to swap out your toothpaste forever, since the condition can resolve itself with changes to your hygiene routine, habits and even hormones.

Your dermatologist may also be able to prescribe antibiotics to help clear up your skin and get rid of the embarrassing and often painful rash around your mouth. Together, you can come up with a treatment plan to help soothe your skin and balance out your complexion.

Even if you're taking all the necessary steps for a healthy skin, a rash can still break out around your mouth and make you feel like your favourite products and make-up are suddenly working against you. The good news is that, once you isolate the issue, you can work with your dermatologist and dentist to follow treatments and use products that help keep your skin calm, clear and rash-free.


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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Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.