MEDILOGIN | Medical Academy

Impure skin despite intensive skin care – what is behind all this?

Quite a few patients suffer from perioral dermatitis (POD), which is a chronically persistent skin disease primarily in the facial area, presenting with a flat redness or disseminated raised red spots that are mostly accompanied by a feeling of tension. It occurs predominantly in young “cosmetic-conscious” women and is often diagnosed only after a long history of illness.

Reasons for impure skin

Increased skin sebum production

The exact cause has not yet been fully understood. Various factors such as increased skin sebum production, gastrointestinal disorders, or the use of creams containing cortisone promote the development of perioral dermatitis.

Incorrect skin care

The most common cause, however, is excessive and incorrect skin care and improper storage of cosmetic products in overly warm environments.

Topical glucocorticosteroids

Of particular concern are topical glucocorticosteroids, which are initially prescribed by doctors, but mask the disease and lead to a pseudo-improvement. Thus, the disease erroneously runs under the clinical picture of eczema and the complete cure remains concealed for a long time.

These areas are the most affected:

The most frequently affected areas are the chin, nasolabial folds, lateral mouth areas and, rarely, the entirety of the face, neck, or area behind the ears can be affected.

How to treat impure skin

The therapy of choice is the discontinuation of previously used skincare products and complete abstinence from cosmetic products. In short, zero treatment. For many people, however, inactivity is difficult to endure. For this reason, mild care can be used until the symptoms subside. 

Evidence based medicine

In an 8-week clinical study, patients with POD who used a mild care product showed a subjective improvement of their symptoms, despite no significant objective improvement. In comparison to the control group, the burden of the disease, itchiness, and well-being of the patients was improved (1).

But what are mild care products and how can the healing process be accelerated?

For the time being, patients should refrain from using skin care products such as face masks, brush massages, and peelings, in order not to irritate the skin any further. There are some active ingredients found in topical preparations, however, which can lead to improvement and alleviation of the skin symptoms.

Here is a brief overview of two important active ingredients that can be found in skincare products and their properties:

Panthenol: This provitamin, which is converted to vitamin B5 in the body, has anti-inflammatory properties. Even a single application leads to long-lasting skin moisturization and achieves good dermatological results in both adults and infants (2).

Helianthus annuus (sunflower)

A skin-friendly alternative formulation that offers natural sun protection factor in addition to long-lasting moisturization. Moreover, Helianthus annuus possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which support the recovery of POD (3). 


There are other active ingredients, which when administered in the correct dosage, lead to an improvement of symptoms. Here, the motto is: quality over quantity. In the case of POD, skincare products should not contain fragrances or unnecessary additives.

In addition to the right skin care, special care should be paid to maintaining a balanced diet. Moreover, a healthy lifestyle and the avoidance of stress promote healing.

Table of Contents


  1. Ehmann L et al. Efficacy and Safety Results of a Drug-Free Cosmetic Fluid for Perioral Dermatitis: The Toleriane Fluide Efficacy in Perioral Dermatitis (TOLPOD) Study. Ann Dermatol. 2014 Aug; 26(4): 462–468.
  2. Stettler H et al. A new topical panthenol-containing emollient: skin-moisturizing effect following single and prolonged usage in healthy adults, and tolerability in healthy infants. J Dermatolog Treat. 2017 May;28(3):251-257.
  3. Banerjee K et al. Formulation and characterization of a Helianthus annuus – alkyl polyglucoside emulsion cream for topical applications. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Aug 26.