Perioral Dermatitis: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
What Is Perioral Dermatitis?
The word “perioral” means around or on top of something. So when it comes to skin diseases like perioral dermatitis (PD), it refers to the area where the disease occurs. The term peri-auricular refers to the areas around your eyes. Peri-auricular dermatitis is a common type of eczema. It affects both men and women. The most common symptoms are itching, redness, swelling, pain and tenderness in the affected area. Other symptoms include watery eyes, runny nose and cough.
How Does Perioral Dermatitis Affect You?
Most people with PD experience some degree of itching in their peri-auricular area at one time or another. However, they may not have any other symptoms associated with the condition. Some people do not even realize that they have PD. Others may experience milder forms of the condition without having any other symptoms.
Other Types Of Eczema And Perioral Dermatitis
There are several types of eczema and perioral dermatitis, but all of them share similar characteristics such as dry, irritated skin, redness and inflammation in the affected area.
Sometimes peri-auricular dermatitis occurs around the mouth or eyelids. This may result in cracks or sores on the skin. While this form of eczema is milder than other types, it can be painful. PD is also known as nummular eczema because of the coin-shaped sores it may cause on the legs.
Is There A Cure?
While there is no known cure for perioral dermatitis, the condition can be managed with medical treatment. Treatments include a mix of various prescription and over-the-counter creams and lotions. Since the condition remains active for some people, the long-term use of these medications can lead to side effects such as thinning skin or sensitivity to sunlight. Fortunately, there are other treatment options that you can use on the harmless, non-active stages of PD.
Treating The Itchy Skin: Calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream can help soothe the affected skin and stop the itching. Calamine lotion also contains ingredients that relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Moisturizing The Skin: Moisturizing the skin can help prevent cracking, drying and peeling. It also makes the skin less sensitive to touch and heat. Different moisturizers are designed for different types of skin. Using an over-the-counter product that is made for sensitive skin can help.
Topical Immunomodulators: These are creams or lotions that help the skin repair itself naturally. These drugs can relieve your symptoms and keep your PD under control for several months at a time. However, they may take several weeks before you notice any results.
UVB Phototherapy: This treatment uses ultraviolet light to decrease your PD symptoms. It also helps the process of keratinization, which means that your skin produces a natural protective layer to shield it from external elements.
Oral Systemic Medications: These drugs are taken orally and can improve the appearance of your skin over time. They may take several months before you notice an improvement.
Light Therapy: This treatment is similar to UVB phototherapy except it uses artificial light instead of the sun’s rays.
Acitretin: This drug is taken orally or topically and it helps to speed up the skin’s healing process. It can also reduce scaling, dryness and irritation caused by perioral dermatitis. Acitretin shouldn’t be used by pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant. It has been known to cause birth defects.
If you want to try acitretin, your dermatologist might also suggest that you use tetracycline or nicotinamide while taking the drug. While these drugs don’t cure perioral dermatitis, they can make your skin less dry and flaky.
Isotretinoin: This is a strong medication that is taken orally or topically. It reduces inflammation and speeds up the skin’s natural renewal process. Isotretinoin is also known to cause birth defects, so it isn’t recommended for pregnant women. It can also cause severe skin irritation, so you may need to take antibiotics before, during and after you are using it.
If your doctor prescribes acitretin, tetracycline or isotretinoin for you, you’ll have to undergo regular blood tests while taking them. This is to make sure that the drugs don’t cause any serious side effects. Your dermatologist will also want to see you every few weeks or months to assess your condition.
PD is a long-term skin condition. While most cases can be managed with the help of medication, you may need to start using light therapy or take pills like tetracycline every day for the rest of your life in order to control your symptoms. You’ll also want to avoid any potential triggers that can set off an outbreak.
Wash your face twice a day with gentle cleansers and cool water. Gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel.
Always wear sunscreen when you go outside. Ask your dermatologist what kind you should use.
Choose a moisturizer that doesn’t have an irritating scent and isn’t greasy. Apply it as directed.
Use lip balm or petroleum jelly on your lips twice a day to keep them moisturized and protected from the sun.
Wear soft clothing and fabrics that “breathe.” This will help prevent skin irritation.
Stay away from people who smoke, as secondhand smoke can trigger your PD.
Avoid foods that are very spicy or contain alcohol. These can irritate your skin and set off an outbreak.
Tips Wear soft clothing made from natural fabrics whenever possible. Avoid wool and synthetic fibers like acrylic, as they retain less moisture than cotton or silk.
If you have perioral dermatitis, you’ll want to treat your skin with extra care. Always use gentle, fragrance-free soaps and moisturizers on your face. Avoid using powder on your face, as this can dry out your skin and set off a flare-up.
Perioral dermatitis, also known as periorificial dermatitis and periorificial acanthosis, is a common skin condition that causes a red, swollen rash around your mouth.
Sources & references used in this article:
Topical metronidazole in the treatment of perioral dermatitis by NK Veien, JM Munkvad, AO Nielsen… – Journal of the American …, 1991 – Elsevier
Perioral dermatitis by J Lipozencic, S Ljubojevic – Clinics in dermatology, 2011 – Elsevier
Perioral dermatitis: a 12‐year review by DS Wilkinson, V KIRTON… – British Journal of …, 1979 – Wiley Online Library
Perioral dermatitis: a review of the condition with special attention to treatment options by T Tempark, TA Shwayder – American journal of clinical dermatology, 2014 – Springer