Back to Advice

Tips for Red Crusty Bumps Around the Mouth and Nose

Raised, red, crusty bumps around the mouth and nose are a stubborn problem for some people. We reveal what skincare can do to help, and when it’s time to seek other options to get your skin back to normal.

Some people, proportionately more women than men, struggle with a specific skin concern: red, raised, and sometimes crusty bumps around their lips, nose, and chin, often accompanied by dry, flaky skin. This unusual skin problem can be difficult to control on your own, but, thankfully, there are solutions you can consider to greatly diminish the visible symptoms.

Although these raised, crusty bumps may look like acne, they usually aren’t acne. On the other hand, despite how they look, the problem often responds well to gentle anti­-acne products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These types of products can be your first line of defense, along with daily use of a soothing, extremely gentle skincare routine. But, there’s more to it than gentle skincare!

What Else You Can Do

Aside from trying anti-acne products, there are a few other tips that might be of help. For example, avoid getting fluoridated toothpaste anywhere near the skin around your lips because fluoride can be sensitizing for some people’s skin. If you notice an improvement from avoiding it, check with your dentist to see if ongoing use of a fluoride­free toothpaste is an option for you.

Another tip: Avoid heavy or occlusive skincare ointments and creams (especially those with thick, waxy textures). Sunscreen is still vital every day, but use only lightweight fluid, gel, or thin lotion versions.

It’s also extremely important to completely avoid anything that can irritate your skin, such as abrasive scrubs, hot water, skincare products with fragrance (synthetic or natural, fragrance is a top skin sensitizer), or other potentially problematic ingredients. Using only gentle, non-irritating products is imperative.

When You Should Consult a Dermatologist

If the bumps don’t go away after trying anti-acne products, you will know for sure that your skin concern is something other than acne.

Next step: Consult a dermatologist. Your dermatologist can tell you if these red, crusty bumps around your mouth and nose are a condition known as peri-oral or peri-orificial dermatitis (POD).

If POD is the problem, there may not be any skincare or over-­the-­counter medications that can treat the condition; however, a dermatologist can prescribe topical and oral medications that should make a remarkable difference. A bright note: Once POD is treated, recurrences are rare.

References for this information:

Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, September 2015, pages 964–968
Dermatology Clinics, July 2015, pages 447–455
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, April 2014, pages 101–113
Seminars in Cutaneous Medical Surgery, September 1999, pages 206–209