Rosacea and Perioral Dermatitis

Dr. SchleicherRosacea and Perioral Dermatitis

Rosacea and perioral dermatitis are two acne-related disorders that affect women in greater frequency than men. Both are striking causes of a red face.


           Rosacea begins very insidiously, often as a prominent, evanescent facial flush. The rosy condition may involve only the lower half of the nose or may spread to cover the “blush zone,” over the central face, forehead, and chin. The bouts of redness gradually become more frequent and intense, leading to persistent changes in skin color. The end result is permanent facial redness along with numerous enlarged blood vessels. Rosacea may be accompanied by crops of inflamed pus‑filled pimples.

          According to the National Rosacea Society, the condition affects over fourteen million Americans. Over 75 percent of patients responding to their annual survey admitted that rosacea lowered their self-confidence and self-esteem. Rosacea usually occurs in middle-aged women, those between ages thirty and fifty-five. The condition seems to affect people who, since childhood, have blushed easily, as well as those who develop intense redness following only brief sun exposure. The most severe form of rosacea most commonly affects men and afflicts the nose. Medically termed rhinophyma, the disorder is characterized by uneven, progressive nasal swelling (the “W. C. Fields nose”) and may cause significant cosmetic deformity.

          Rosacea may also affect the eyes (ocular rosacea). Individuals so afflicted may experience itching, stinging, dryness, foreign body sensation, and a watery, bloodshot appearance.

          The exact cause of rosacea is unknown and treatment often proves difficult. The condition is aggravated by the ingestion of hot beverages and alcohol, both of which dilate blood vessels and promote facial redness. Extremes in temperature, as well as excessive sunlight, should be avoided.



Sun exposure

Vigorous exercise




Hot baths


Cold weather

Spicy foods

Hot beverages

           Persons with rosacea should avoid harsh cleansers, toners, and astringents. The mainstay of the medical treatment for rosacea is the oral antibiotic tetracycline or its derivative, doxycycline, which often must be taken for years. Topical preparations containing the antibiotic metronidazole (Metrogel, Noritate) may prove useful in both the treatment of acute flares and long-term maintenance, as may sulfur-containing compounds (Avar, Klaron, Plexion, Rosanil, Rosula, Sulfacet-R), and medications containing azelaic acid (Azelex, Finacea).

          The best way to cover up the redness associated with rosacea is to apply a green tinted foundation or concealer. The dilated blood vessels characteristic of rosacea respond poorly to oral and topical therapies. The treatment of choice is either lasers or IPL (intense pulsed light). Both are simple office procedures with a primary risk of temporary bruising. Results are quite rewarding. Some patients remain clear following a single session whereas others require treatment two to three times per year. Insurance companies do not cover light therapies, as they are considered cosmetic in nature.

 Perioral Dermatitis

           Perioral dermatitis is a facial condition that primarily affects women in the twenty- to forty-year age group. Over the past decade, the problem has become increasingly more common.

          The development of tiny red pimples and pustules, as well as dryness and scaling around the mouth and on the chin, characterizes perioral dermatitis. Occasional burning or itching may be experienced.

          Perioral dermatitis may last from several weeks to many years. The condition waxes and wanes in intensity, and premenstrual worsening is common. The use of high-potency steroid creams will either cause or exacerbate this facial rash, and such use must be immediately discontinued. Medications containing sulfur (Avar, Klaron, Plexion, Rosanil, Rosula, and Sulfacet-R) often afford adequate control, although some cases may require oral antibiotic therapy.

DermDOX Centers for Dermatology
PH:  570-459-0029


6 Responses

  1. Wow! I did not know exercise could cause Rosacea! Very informative. Thank you.

  2. I am in my 50’s and have recently been diagnosed with Rosacea, which I believe was induced by the YEARS & YEARS of application of creams prescribed by my doctor for a mild condition of SebDerm! The doctor never told me that repeated use of steroid creams could INDUCE ROSACEA!!

    On a number of occasions lately, as I searched the stores for a “cure” to whatever was going on with my face, I had seen reviews for the “Made from Earth Rosehip & Hibiscus Face Serum”, but didn’t believe it would work – because nothing else I had purchsed had worked so far….The redness and rash I was experiencing had gotten much worse over the last month. I needed relief, badly.

    So I decided to buy the Made from Earth Rosehip Serum – it was cheap compared to other rosacea creams and I had nothing to use. WITHIN 2 MONTHS I WAS MUCH IMPROVED!! Honestly, my face even felt better!! The stinging has almost stopped except for the nose area, and the redness is almost 100% gone, as well as the overall “itchiness” from the latest flare.

    Don’t wait – go buy this BEFORE you see your doctor!! At least give it a try first; you have nothing but about $18 to lose! Hurry and get relief for yourself!!!

  3. Great information. Hopefully a real cure will be developed one day, in the meantime IPL and diet can make a huge improvement.

  4. I writing to you because my wife has developed a sudden facial rash on both of her cheeks. We are trying to find a remedy. It itches and burns and has peeled. And there is also a lot of inflamation. I am worried and could use some advise or a doctor to see. We live in Naples Florida. My cell is 239-777-4482. Please help

    • A rash such as the one described may be caused by a variety of factors including contact with a skin care product or even a perfume or hair spray. Certain medications taken orally (i.e. for high blood pressure) can induce a facial reaction if an individual is exposed to sunlight. A severe reaction such as that experienced by your wife warrants prompt medical attention to determine the cause and to institute therapy (which may include topical and oral steroids). If very severe visit a local ER today; tomorrow I would call a dermatologist in Naples, explain the condition, and request to be seen ASAP.

  5. In my opinion, the best way to cover rosacea is with Lira Lycrogel. I don’t mean to sound like a commercial but this stuff really worked best for me. It is so light that I don’t even feel like I’m wearing cover up. What I like best about it is the fact that it reduces the redness and swelling on my cheeks. It’s also a sunscreen and moisturizer AND blemish fighter so it eliminates the need to layer on products.

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