Northside Health Library

Perioral dermatitis


Perioral dermatitis is a skin disorder in which tiny red bumps form around the mouth.


The exact cause of perioral dermatitis is unknown. It may occur after using face creams containing steroids for another condition.

Young women are most likely to get this condition.


Symptoms include:

  • Burning feeling around the mouth
  • Bumps around the mouth, may be filled with fluid or pus
  • A similar rash may appear around the eyes, nose, or forehead and may be mistaken for acne

Itching is not a common symptom.

Exams and Tests

Your doctor or nurse can usually diagnose this condition by looking at your skin. Sometimes, tests are done to see if bacteria is causing an infection.


Steroid skin creams should NOT be used to treat this condition.

Treatment may include skin medicines such as:

  • Metronidazole
  • Erythromycin
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Tacrolimus
  • Clindamycin
  • Pimecrolimus
  • Sodium sulfacetamide with sulfur

If the condition is severe, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics taken by mouth. Antibiotics used to treat this condition include tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, or erythromycin.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Perioral dermatitis is difficult to treat effectively. It often requires several months of treatment.

Bumps usually return, particularly if you put skin creams containing steroids on your face.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you notice persistent red bumps around your mouth.


Avoid using skin creams containing steroids on your face, unless specifically directed by your dermatologist.

Review Date: 11/22/2011
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Northside Hospital - Atlanta

1000 Johnson Ferry Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342
(404) 851-8000

Northside Hospital - Cherokee

201 Hospital Road
Canton, GA 30114
(770) 720-5100

Northside Hospital - Forsyth

1200 Northside Forsyth Drive
Cumming, GA 30041
(770) 844-3200

Copyright © 2015 Northside Hospital|Privacy Policy