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How Do I Choose the Best Treatment for Perioral Dermatitis?

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  • Written By: A. Pasbjerg
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 05 August 2014
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Choosing the best treatment for perioral dermatitis can depend on several factors. Some form of antibiotic is often needed to clear a breakout, but whether it is administered orally or via a topical cream depends on the severity of the skin lesions. Use of certain topical creams, toothpastes, or cosmetics may cause of worsen an episode, so discontinuing use of those products may be necessary. Caring for the skin by washing it correctly and avoiding factors that worsen the issue such as wind, heat, and stress are often important for anyone suffering from the condition.

A common treatment for perioral dermatitis is antibiotics. Oral antibiotics, such as tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline are used in more extreme cases where the breakout is severe. Milder cases may only require application of an antibiotic cream to the skin around the mouth; in some cases anti-acne creams may also be used. Treatment may need to go on for several months to completely clear up the issue. It is not uncommon for the problem to recur once treatment has stopped, and another course of antibiotics may be necessary.

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In some cases, use of certain products may precipitate or aggravate the condition, so treatment for perioral dermatitis will involve stopping their use. Topical steroids can often play a role, so they should generally not be used, though on occasion a doctor may prescribe them for a short time to reduce the inflammation and help with the appearance of the lesions. Dental products, particularly anti-tartar toothpastes or those containing fluoride or lauryl sulfate, can lead to or worsen a breakout. Cosmetics, lotions, and sunscreen should be used sparingly or not at all, and any that are used should be water-based instead of oil-based.

Keeping the area clean is often an important part of treatment for perioral dermatitis, but it should be done correctly to minimize aggravation of the rash. Plain, warm water alone is typically best while the lesions are visible. Once the breakout begins to clear, a soap-free cleanser is usually appropriate.

For many people, there are external and internal factors that can be avoided to help clear perioral dermatitis. Exposure to wind, sunlight, and heat often worsen the condition, so avoiding them can help. Reducing stress is also often effective. Avoiding spicy foods, alcohol, and other things which dilate the blood vessels can help the appearance of the breakout as well.

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