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Perioral (periorificial) dermatitis

Jason Reichenberg, MD
Section Editor
Mark V Dahl, MD
Deputy Editor
Abena O Ofori, MD


Perioral dermatitis (POD), also known as periorificial dermatitis, is a skin disorder that typically presents with multiple small inflammatory papules around the mouth, nose, or eyes. Although the name "perioral dermatitis" suggests a primarily eczematous condition, POD most often resembles an acneiform or rosacea-like eruption with or without associated features of a mild eczematous dermatitis. The pathogenesis of POD is poorly understood; both intrinsic and extrinsic factors may contribute to this disorder.

Although POD may resolve over time after the discontinuation of topical corticosteroids and the elimination of skin irritants, the cosmetic appearance of lesions prompts many patients to seek treatment. Topical antiinflammatory agents and topical or systemic antibiotics constitute the major pharmacologic options for therapy.

The clinical features, diagnosis, and management of POD will be discussed here. The differential diagnosis of disorders that present with inflammation of facial skin is reviewed separately. (See "Approach to the patient with facial erythema".)


Perioral dermatitis (POD) was first described in 1957 under the moniker "light sensitive seborrheid" [1]. Since then, an association with light exposure has largely been discounted [2,3]. In 1964, "perioral dermatitis" was introduced as the preferred term to refer to this disease [4]. Some authors have advocated for utilization of the term "periorificial dermatitis," a name that reflects the various potential sites of POD [5,6]. (See 'Clinical manifestations' below.)


Perioral dermatitis (POD) occurs worldwide and in individuals of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Although women between the ages of 16 and 45 constitute the vast majority of patients affected by POD, POD may also occur in older individuals, men, and children [7,8].


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Jun 16, 2015.
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