Despite its angry and inflamed appearance, perioral dermatitis is not contagious; it can’t be passed from person to person.
However, it can be a sign of bacterial or fungal infection, so it is important to keep the area clean, dry and well-looked after.
It can also look a bit like other rashes, some of which are contagious, so do get a proper diagnosis from your doctor if you’re worried, to rule out the possibility of it being anything more serious.
What else could it be?
Eczema herpeticum (HSV-1) is eczema/dermatitis that has become infected by the cold sore virus, HSV-1. It can be very serious and can be spread from person to person. People prone to eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and other chronic conditions that affect the skin barrier function, should minimise contact with anyone with a cold sore. The rash is the same as cold sores, and can spread over a large area of the face and body. It can also be vulnerable to secondary bacterial infection.You’re also more likely to have a fever and feel really quite poorly if you have eczema herpeticum, than if it’s perioral dermatitis. Seek medical treatment if you suspect eczema herpeticum.
Perioral dermatitis can also sometimes be confused with:
- Razor burn
- Impetigo (an infectious bacterial infection)
- Angular cheilitis (cracked, sore patches around the corners of your mouth)
For a suggested skincare routine for perioral dermatitis, see our article What's The Best Moisturiser For Perioral Dermatitis?
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.