Perioral acne isn't actually a form of acne. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it's a form of dermatitis known as perioral dermatitis. The skin suffers from inflammation that causes the development of tiny papules or pustules similar to acne vulgaris. To improve the appearance of the skin once the papules or pustules have formed, medical intervention is often necessary.
Perioral dermatitis manifests as red papules or pustules along the skin surrounding the mouth, but it may also develop on the nose, cheeks and around the eyes, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). The papules and pustules are similar in appearance to pimples, which makes many sufferers wrongly identify the condition as acne. However, perioral dermatitis, unlike acne, is typically accompanied by a burning sensation along the affected areas of the skin. There may also be some minor skin peeling.
The AAD and the NIH agree that this inflammatory condition is predominantly seen in women more than men. And while the cause is still unknown, experts from both institutes have linked perioral dermatitis to the use of topical steroids. When applied to the skin, some people may have an adverse reaction to cortisone or hydrocortisone that causes papules and pustules to develop on the face.
Besides corticosteroids, it also possible for other factors to lead to perioral dermatitis, such as sun exposure. It appears that perioral dermatitis is quite similar in nature to seborrheic dermatitis as well as rosacea, two other inflammatory skin conditions that worsen as a result of UV rays.
Though the AAD suggests using corticosteroids to treat the condition, the experts at the NIH aren't of the same opinion, and recommend using topical antiseptics and antibiotics, such as benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin, erythromycin and metronidazole. If these fail to provide results, an oral medication is frequently necessary. Doctors prescribe tetracycline or doxycycline, among other antibiotics, to treat this condition. Dermatologists also recommend steering clear of fluorides and toothpastes that prevent tartar buildup.
Regardless of the treatment method, it can take an extended period of time to improve the appearance of the skin. According to the NIH, sufferers may need treatment with topical or oral medications for several months before seeing an improvement in their complexion.
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