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  • Writer's picturePaty Cholewczynski

Understanding Perioral Dermatitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Treatments

Updated: Jun 24

Perioral dermatitis (PD) is a common yet often misunderstood skin condition that primarily affects the area around the mouth. It presents as a red, bumpy rash and can be both uncomfortable and distressing for those who experience it. Despite its prevalence, there is still much to learn about PD, including its causes, symptoms, and best practices for treatment.

In this blog post, I will delve into the intricacies of perioral dermatitis to provide a comprehensive understanding of this condition and offer insights into effective management strategies.

What is Perioral Dermatitis?

Perioral dermatitis is an inflammatory rash that tends to occur around the mouth but can also affect the eyes (periocular dermatitis) and nose (perinasal dermatitis). It is characterized by small, red, papular or pustular bumps that can be itchy or cause a burning sensation. Despite its name, the rash does not typically affect the vermilion border of the lips but rather the skin around it.

Causes of Perioral Dermatitis

The exact cause of perioral dermatitis remains unclear, but several factors are believed to contribute to its development:

  1. Topical Steroids: The use of topical corticosteroids is one of the most common triggers. These steroids, often prescribed for other skin conditions, can cause PD when used on the face.

  2. Cosmetic Products: Heavy creams, moisturizers, and cosmetics that contain certain ingredients can exacerbate PD by blocking pores and creating an environment that supports bacterial growth. Also over use of active ingredients can disrupt the skin barrier leading to this condition.

  3. Fluoridated Toothpaste: Some individuals develop PD as a reaction to fluoride in toothpaste. Avoid toothpastes with Sodium Lauryl Sulfates (SLS). and brush your teeth first before washing your face, in order to remove any remanence of toothpaste from your face.

  4. Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormones, particularly in women, can trigger PD.

  5. Microbial Infection: Overgrowth of certain bacteria, especially anaerobic bacteria, in the nasolabial folds can contribute to PD.

  6. Environmental Factors: Exposure to strong winds, UV radiation, and other environmental stressors can irritate the skin and trigger PD.

Symptoms of Perioral Dermatitis

The symptoms of perioral dermatitis can vary but typically include:

  • Red, inflamed bumps around the mouth, nose, and eyes

  • Mild itching or burning sensation

  • Dry, flaky skin in the affected areas

  • Clear fluid discharge in some cases

The appearance and severity of these symptoms can fluctuate, often worsening with the use of certain topical products or environmental exposure.

Effective Treatments for Perioral Dermatitis

Managing perioral dermatitis requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses both the symptoms and underlying causes. Below is a detailed protocol practiced at my studio, using specific products and treatments known to be effective for PD.

  • Purpose: To gently cleanse the skin without stripping it of essential moisture.

  • Application: Use twice daily, morning and night. Apply a small amount to damp skin, gently massage in circular motions, and rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.

  • Benefits: This cleanser removes impurities and bacteria without causing irritation or dryness, reducing inflammation and preventing bacterial proliferation.

  • Purpose: To promote skin regeneration and repair while reducing inflammation and redness.

  • Application: Apply a few drops to the entire face once daily, preferably at night after cleansing.

  • Benefits: Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) aids in the healing process by promoting cell growth and collagen production, helping to repair the skin barrier and reduce the appearance of the rash.

  • Purpose: To soothe and calm irritated skin, providing relief from discomfort.

  • Application: Use morning and night after applying EGF Serum. Apply a thin layer to the affected area.

  • Benefits: Medi-Soothe contains anti-inflammatory and calming ingredients that help reduce redness and irritation, supporting the healing process without clogging pores.

  • Purpose: To provide additional soothing and healing benefits for severe cases of PD.

  • Application: Use as needed, focusing on particularly inflamed or irritated areas. Apply sparingly to avoid potential clogging of pores.

  • Benefits: The SOS Balm offers intensive soothing properties and helps to calm acute flare-ups, supporting the overall treatment regimen.

  • Purpose: To protect the skin from UV damage, which can exacerbate PD.

  • Application: Apply every morning after Medi-Soothe. Reapply every two hours if exposed to sunlight.

  • Benefits: This mineral-based SPF contains zinc oxide, which provides broad-spectrum protection without clogging pores or irritating the skin. Zinc oxide is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, making it especially suitable for sensitive or inflamed skin conditions like PD.

Additional Components

  1. Essential Fatty Acids Supplements

  • Purpose: To support skin health from within, promoting a healthy skin barrier and reducing inflammation.

  • Benefits: Essential fatty acids, such as Omega-3 and Omega-6, are critical for maintaining skin hydration and integrity. They help reduce inflammation and support the skin’s natural repair mechanisms, crucial for managing PD.

  1. 30 Minutes LED Light Therapy Sessions Book Now

  • Purpose: To reduce inflammation, kill bacteria, and promote healing.

  • Application: Conduct LED light therapy sessions three times per week.

  • Benefits: LED light therapy, particularly blue light, is effective in killing bacteria on the skin's surface, while red light can reduce inflammation and promote healing. Regular sessions help manage bacterial levels and inflammation, accelerating the recovery process.

  1. Stress Management

  • Managing stress is crucial in treating perioral dermatitis due to the interconnected nature of the brain-gut-skin axis. Stress can disrupt the balance of this axis, leading to increased inflammation and exacerbating skin conditions. When stressed, the body releases cortisol, which can impair the gut barrier and microbiome, ultimately affecting skin health. To manage stress effectively, consider incorporating simple strategies such as practicing mindfulness or meditation for a few minutes each day, engaging in regular physical activity like walking or yoga, and ensuring adequate sleep. Additionally, maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and probiotics can support gut health and, consequently, skin health. By reducing stress, you can help stabilize the brain-gut-skin axis, promoting overall well-being and aiding in the management of perioral dermatitis.

Important Considerations

  • Oil-Free Regimen: Maintaining an oil-free regimen is essential to prevent creating an anaerobic environment where bacteria can thrive.

  • Client Education: Educating my clients about the importance of sticking to the prescribed regimen and avoiding the use of any other products, especially oil-rich ones, which can exacerbate the condition is important, as well as advising to seek medical advice when needed.

  • Monitoring Progress: Regular follow-ups to assess the skin’s response to treatment and make necessary adjustments are crucial for successful management.

How Do I Start?

Taking the first step towards managing perioral dermatitis is simple.

Begin by booking an LED Celluma Facial at Shoreline Glow, designed to reduce inflammation and promote healing. During your appointment, Paty your skincare specialists will assess your skin and provide personalized recommendations. To ensure you have everything you need for your bespoke routine, you can purchase the Gentle Antioxidant Cleanser, EGF Serum, Medi-Soothe Serum, Ginger&Me SOS Balm, and EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 directly at the studio. These products, combined with your tailored treatment plan, will help effectively address and manage perioral dermatitis, promoting clear and healthy skin.

Perioral dermatitis can be a challenging condition to manage, but with the right approach and understanding, it is possible to achieve significant improvements. By using gentle, effective products, supporting skin health from within, and employing advanced therapeutic techniques, individuals can manage their symptoms and maintain healthy, clear skin. Remember, consistency and adherence to the treatment regimen are key to overcoming perioral dermatitis and achieving long-term results.

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