Perioral dermatitis is a skin condition that causes red, scaly patches around the mouth. It can be caused by allergies or irritants, and it’s best to avoid these triggers if possible.
However, there are some sunscreens that cause less perioral dermatitis than others. In this article we’ll discuss why some sunscreens are worse for perioral dermatitis than others, and what qualities of sunscreen to look for when you have perioral dermatitis.
What is Perioral Dermatitis?
Perioral dermatitis is a skin condition characterized by redness and swelling around the mouth, along with scaly or bumpy texture. It’s not clear exactly why perioral dermatitis happens, but the skin rash may be triggered by topical steroid creams or over-reliance on ointments with harsh chemicals and exfoliators which damage the skin’s natural barrier.
If not attended to, perioral dermatitis can spread to other areas of the face.
How is Perioral Dermatitis Connected to Sunscreen Use?
Unfortunately, some sunscreens have been known to cause perioral dermatitis.
Outbreaks of perioral dermatitis can originate from harsh, chemical based sunscreens. If you’ve experienced perioral dermatitis before or have sensitive skin, opt for physical mineral sunscreens instead of chemical sunscreens.
Why Are Chemical Sunscreens Bad for Perioral Dermatitis?
Chemical sunscreens can be great for some individuals, but the ingredients can be quite harsh and can cause extreme irritation for those with sensitive skin.
Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients like octinoxate and oxybenzone. While oxybenzone is a popular ingredient in chemical sunscreen, it may be too harsh for perioral dermatitis sufferers or other sensitive skin conditions, so it’s best to steer clear of it.
Generally, if you have sensitive skin or have suffered from perioral dermatitis outbreaks in the past, we’d recommend avoiding all harsh sunscreen chemical ingredients, such as:
While most mineral physical sunscreens that rely on zinc oxide or titanium dioxide will be much less likely to irritate sensitive skin than chemical sunscreens, you’ll still need to be on guard.
Even some mineral sunscreens can include irritating synthetic chemicals, so always read ingredient labels and do a skin patch test to ensure the sunscreen is safe for your individual skin type.
What to Look for in a Good Sunscreen for Perioral Dermatitis
Mineral sunscreen is usually the go-to option for people with perioral dermataitis, as its ideal for those with ultra sensitive skin. While ingredients in chemical sunscreens increase your chances of getting an allergic reaction, physical sunscreens like zinc oxide dramatically reduce this risk.
To pick out a safe sunscreen for perioral dermatitis, look for:
- No fragrances
- Zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide
- 100% mineral-based
- Broad-spectrum protection
Best Sunscreen for Perioral Dermatitis
1. EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 Face Sunscreen
EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen has to be out number one pick when it comes to the best sunscreen for perioral dermatitis.
This hypoallergenic, non-irritating mineral sunscreen features broad spectrum protection from UVA/UVB rays while soothing the burning and inflammation associated with perioral dermatitis.
It’s ultra-gentle formula is designed specifically for those with skin issues like dermatitis, acne, melasma, and rosacea, made to minimize any risks of allergeic reaction.
EltaMD has hydrating ingredients like aloe vera to help replenish lost moisture in dry patches of irritated skin.
It has a light weight fluid consistency, which absorbs easily into your skin leaving it moisturized and not greasy or tacky as is the case with so may standard sunscreens.
2. Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 50 is a best seller for good reason. This is one of the best, budget-friendly sunscreens for perioral dermatitis you can buy that is non-comedogenic and won’t clog pores (making it great for acne-prone skin), keeping your skin soft and moisturized too!
It’s lightweight, hypoallergenic, and doesn’t have any fragrances, parabens, phthalates, dyes, or any other irritating chemicals. It also relies on an “oil-free” formula that qualified it as a great sunscreen for oily skin too, and many report that it’s easy to layer on makeup after applying it on the face. This mineral sunscreen has been dermatologist tested against harsh UV rays without leaving a white film on your skin – no worries of feeling sticky all day!
3. CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
CeraVe’s is a real fan favorite noncomedogenic sunscreen that’s made specifically for those with sensitive skin and skin issues like perioral dermatitis, so it minimizes the risks of irritating your face.
It relies primarily on zinc oxide to protect you from the sun’s rays. The three essential ceramides moisturize and maintain the natural barrier of your skin, while the oxybenzone, oil, fragrance, and chemical filter-free formula ensures you can enjoy a day at the beach without dealing with skin irritation. It’s allergy-tested too, making it as minimal risk as possible.
4. THRIVE Natural Moisturizing Mineral Face Sunscreen
The best choice if you’re looking for the most natural sunscreen option, it’s hard to beat THRIVE Natural Moisturizing Mineral Face Sunscreen.
This gentle mineral matte sunscreen boasts an ingredient composition with 20% zinc oxide alongside other plant-based ingredients like arabica coffee oil and wakame seaweed. The focus for this sunscreen is on being free of harsh chemical filters, so it shouldn’t cause reactions. It’s also oxybenzone, paraben, PABA, and GMO-free!
This gentle, sheer matte sunscreen is designed to lock in moisture without being greasy or sticky on your skin–another bonus especially when dealing with dryness brought about by this type of skin condition.
5. Blue Lizard Sensitive FACE Mineral Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide
Another top pick for a perioral dermatitis friendly sunscreen has to be Blue Lizard Sensitive Face Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide.
This sunscreen zinc oxide-based with no harsh chemical active ingredients. It’s designed for those with sensitive skin and has added hydrating properties with antioxidants like green tea extract and caffeine so your skin will stay hydrated in addition to being protected from the sun’s rays.
It provides both UVA and UVB protection (30 SPF broad spectrum coverage) at an affordable price point. It’s paraben-free, fragrance- free, oil-free, and noncomedogenic for a formula that’s non-irritating and making it an ideal sunscreen for perioral dermatitis sufferers. It’s also a great sunscreen for rosacea sufferers and other sensitive skin types.
6. Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face BB Cream
The Australian Gold Botanical Tinted Face BB Cream Sunscreen is a tinted perioral dermatitis sunscreen that functions as much as a BB cream as it does a sunscreen. It relies primarily on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for protection, with no irritating oxybenzone.
It has SPF 30+ broad spectrum protection along with bonus antioxidant-rich botanicals that fight free radicals, such as eucalyptus and red algae.
The formula is oil-free and has a matte finish that minimizes the appearance of pores and fine lines. It contains no parabens, sulfates, dyes, alcohols, oxybenzone (and is cruelty-free and vegan too)!
How to Avoid Perioral Dermatitis Caused by Sunscreens
There are a number of ways you can dramatically your chances of avoiding perioral dermatitis caused by sunscreens, including:
- Always perform a patch test. When using a new sunscreen, apply just a bit to a small area on your face (such as just below your chin or under your ear). Wait a few minutes to to determine how your skin responds before applying to your entire face.
- If the sunscreen causes an itchy or burning sensation, don’t use it. If a sunscreen is causing irritation, don’t keep using it! Toss it and try something else instead.
- Wear a hat. Wearing a broad-rimmed UV sun hat can be an adequate substitute for facial sunscreen – especially for short periods of time and in overcast weather. Just make sure you’re always using some type of UV protection, whether its clothing or sunscreen!
More FAQ for Perioral Dermatitis Sunscreens
How do you cure perioral dermatitis?
Perioral dermatitis can only be cured through the use of prescribed antibiotics, so make sure to contact your doctor to discuss getting an antibiotic prescription. Also keep in mind that antibiotic use can increase your skin’s sensitivity and risk of sun damage, so be sure to use a safe, non-irritating sunscreen while on antibiotics.
Should I moisturize perioral dermatitis skin?
Professionals disagree, with some recommending moisturizing while others say to give your skin a break for a while. Regardless, you’ll always want to avoid topical lotions that contain harsh chemicals
Is Zinc Oxide Good for Perioral Dermatitis?
Yes, zinc oxide is good for perioral dermatitis. It offers great sun protection and clear healthy skin benefits. It’s one of the most natural, gentle ingredients you can find in a sunscreen. Opt for zinc oxide sunscreens for face over harsher chemical sunscreen that use oxybenzone.
Is Titanium Dioxide Bad for Perioral Dermatitis?
No, titanium dioxide won’t cause or worsen perioral dermatitis symptoms. In fact, it’s a very stable and effective sunscreen ingredient that’s fairly gentle. Some still feel that zinc oxide is a superior option, but titanium dioxide is a good second.
What Ingredients Should You Avoid with Perioral Dermatitis?
Some ingredients to avoid when you have perioral dermatitis include: oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, among others. Look for a sunscreen that uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide instead. If in doubt about which one is best for you, ask your dermatologist!
What Aggravates or Irritates Dermatitis?
There are a number of aggravating factors which can lead to dermatitis development or make perioral dermatitis worse including: irritants, allergens, environmental conditions, and skin injuries.
How Do You Calm Down Perioral Dermatitis?
To calm perioral dermatitis, you’ll want to identify what’s causing the irritation and remove it – starting with topical irritants.
How Long Does It Take for Dermatitis to Recover?
On average, patients recover from perioral dermatitis within 7-10 days of discontinuing use of all topical irritants and starting on an antibiotic treatment recommended by their doctor, but this of course varies by person!