Here's What Really Causes Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis is a somewhat-common skin rash that appears around the mouth according to WebMD. The red bumps, which can itch and burn — but don't always — often look unsightly, and can also look scaly (via Healthline).

Up to 90 percent of people who experience this pesky condition are women — most commonly perioral dermatitis develops between the ages of 16 and 45. While sometimes the condition is misdiagnosed as acne, the treatment is actually much different, with the American Academy of Dermatology noting corticosteroids, including hydrocortisone, may temporarily help with itching, but ultimately, this class of topical ointments only serves to exacerbate the rash.

That is because using corticosteroids is thought to be one of the causes of perioral dermatitis. Topical steroids may also bring on a case of the frustrating rash, as can overuse of certain makeup products and heavy creams, and, according to Nationwide's Children's, inhaled medications for asthma.

How to treat perioral dermatitis

Beyond having used topical steroids, or corticosteroids, other potential causes of this potentially-upsetting red rash are saliva covering the area around the mouth persistently, some sunscreens, and even birth control pills. Medical News Today says a change in the bacteria on the skin, or bacteria getting under hair follicles, can also lead to the rash developing. An allergic reaction may also be to blame, or a fungal infection may have brought on the rash.

The truth is, according to multiple sources, no one knows for sure what causes perioral dermatitis, which can be upsetting to some sufferers, as the condition is also difficult to resolve. Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat perioral dermatitis, but as Nationwide Children's notes, this is a stubborn condition and can take many months to treat. Again, experts stress that taking corticosteroids may appear to heal the rash temporarily, but long term, will only serve to worsen the rash and increase the time to recovery.