Dry skin around the mouth: causes, treatment and remedies

Dry skin around the mouth can be the result of many problems, such as perioral dermatitis, dehydration, allergies and irritation from the use of certain products. Home remedies can help.

Hydration with lotions or oils can often help to relieve dry skin around the mouth. It is also a good idea to avoid possible irritants, such as steroid creams or inhalers and fluoride toothpaste.

If dry skin is persistent, a person can often find relief by treating the underlying cause.

In this article, we describe some causes of dry skin around the mouth, as well as treatments and home remedies.


Dry skin rash around the mouth on the face
A doctor can diagnose the cause of dry skin around the mouth.

If a person is not sure of the cause of their dry skin, they should consult a doctor. The determination of the underlying cause is important when deciding on a treatment.

The skin around the mouth may dry out for many reasons, such as:

  • allergies or irritation
  • cold or windy weather
  • overexposure to the sun
  • excessive face washing
  • dehydration
  • perioral dermatitis
  • Other medical conditions, such as rosacea, eczema or psoriasis.

However, there may not be an identifiable cause. Facial skin is sensitive and fluctuates naturally in clarity and health.

Next, we discuss some common causes of dry skin around the mouth.

Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis is a skin condition that forms a rash around the mouth. It can also spread to the skin around the nose and eyes.

The symptoms of perioral dermatitis include:

  • A red, scaly, or lumpy rash.
  • Redness and swelling around the mouth
  • mild itching or burning

The symptoms of perioral dermatitis may appear and disappear for months or years.

One of the most common causes is the use of topical steroid creams or steroid inhalers for a prolonged period. The condition can also be a result of skin irritation or rosacea.

In addition, some people get perioral dermatitis because they use facial creams or moisturizers or fluoride toothpaste.

After a person stops using a steroid cream, the rash may get worse before it gets better. Wash with a mild soap or soap substitute to avoid further irritation.

A lack of oil

The skin produces oil to stay hydrated. Sometimes, it produces too much oil, which results in pimples, or it may not produce enough, which produces dry skin. Dehydrated skin lacks sufficient moisture and appears rough or scaly.

Over-washing the face can cause an imbalance in the facial oils, leading to dry skin.

Allergies or irritation.

The skin around the mouth can also dry out due to exposure to harsh chemicals, such as:

  • soaps
  • Makeup products
  • dental products

Avoid facial products that contain these chemicals, and alcohol in particular, and choose natural products with fewer ingredients.

Cold weather

Cooler temperatures and lower levels of moisture in the air can leave the skin dry or cracked. Sensitive skin around the mouth and on the hands is especially vulnerable.

Skin conditions

Certain conditions can damage the skin barrier and cause dryness and rashes. Some of these problems include atopic dermatitis, other forms of eczema and psoriasis.

Home remedies

The best treatment depends entirely on a person's habits and the cause of dry skin.

If the dry skin around the mouth is a prolonged or frequent problem, consider going to a dermatologist to receive treatment. Meanwhile, the following tips can often help.

Gently clean the area daily

Woman washing face looking in bathroom mirror
Using mild facial cleansers can help prevent dry skin.

Washing the skin too hard and with very cold or hot water could result in dry skin.

In addition, the use of soaps or cleansers with fragrances, colors or other chemicals could dry the skin even more. Try cleansers or soaps that do not contain:

  • alcohols
  • fragrances
  • plastic
  • artificial colors
  • other drying chemicals

Soft soaps and cleansers are available for purchase online.

Exfoliate dry skin

The skin of the body experiences a natural cycle. New cells appear, allowing old cells to die. Normally, this process takes approximately 1 month to complete.

However, when dead cells adhere to the surface of the skin, it can cause clogged pores and dry patches. Exfoliation helps prevent this. By removing dead skin cells, exfoliation can improve the health and texture of the skin.

A person should clean their face every day and carefully exfoliate every few days. Exfoliate every day can irritate or damage the skin.

Facial scrubs are available for purchase online.

Hydrate the area daily.

Many types of skin require the help of a moisturizer to retain water, regardless of the season. The hydration of dry skin at night, immediately after a wash or after exfoliation can help keep more moisture for longer.

When using a moisturizer around the mouth, make sure that none of the ingredients are harmful if accidentally swallowed. Avoid all allergens.

Also, keep in mind that different types of dry skin may require different moisturizers. Trial and error may be the best approach, but always look for products designed for sensitive skin.

Alcohols, artificial ingredients, dioxane and petrolatum tend to worsen the problems of facial skin. Instead, look for moisturizers that contain beneficial ingredients, such as:

  • hyaluronic acid
  • ceramides
  • colloidal oat

The following can be beneficial, alone or as ingredients:

Many natural oils can help relieve dry skin on the face, not including harmful ingredients or chemicals. Coconut oil, for example, can help keep the skin soft.

However, not all oils are suitable humectants. Olive oil, for example, could damage the skin barrier, according to a 2013 study.

Also, adding too much oil to the skin could result in a break. Experiment to find the correct amount.

Facial moisturizers are available for purchase online.

Change your habits

Dry skin around the mouth can result from routine activities. Smoking can be one of the causes, and quitting smoking can help solve the problem.

Mouthwash, toothpaste and facial products, which include makeup, moisturizers, cleansers and soaps, can also dry the skin in the area, so trying new products with more natural ingredients could solve the problem.

Also, a person's shower habits can be a problem. Standing under or washing your face with hot, steaming water can strip the skin of the natural oils that keep it moist. Spending too much time in the water, in general, can have this effect.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, showers and baths should last 5 to 10 minutes to promote healthy skin.

Use a humidifier in winter and limit the air conditioning.

Dry and chronic facial skin is often the result of exposure to dry air. Winter weather and continuous air conditioning and heating remove moisture from the air, which can dry the skin.

If dry skin around the mouth is a recurring problem, a person may consider using a humidifier in the winter and limit their exposure to air conditioning or central heating.

Humidifiers are available for purchase online.


A dermatologist can often diagnose the cause of dry skin around the mouth. Usually, they do so after carefully examining the affected area and discussing personal and family medical histories.

The identification of dry skin around the mouth is quite simple, but understanding the root cause may require an experienced eye. Consider seeing a dermatologist if dry skin persists.


Asian man looking in bathroom mirror shaving
People who shave their face can protect the skin with shaving gel.

To prevent dry skin around the mouth, avoid habits that trigger dryness or irritation. This may involve:

  • avoiding scratching the skin
  • Use soft facial products and stop using those that contain drying agents.
  • Using new and sharp razors and shaving gel.
  • Cleaning with warm water, instead of hot.
  • Spend less time outdoors with direct or cold wind
  • avoiding excessive air conditioning
  • Stay away from known allergens

Regular hydration, gentle cleansing, and occasional skin exfoliation around the mouth can often help prevent the formation of dry patches.


Dry skin around the mouth can be the result of many problems, including a person's habits, internal or external temperature, an imbalance of oils or a condition such as perioral dermatitis or eczema.

People can often treat dry skin using home remedies and making changes to their routine. Anyone with chronic dryness can benefit from receiving a diagnosis and professional treatment.

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