Dry skin around mouth isn’t dangerous, but rather a bothersome problem. Not only does it affect confidence and self-esteem, but it can also have unpleasant symptoms. While it’s easy to think dryness around the mouth is a permanent condition, the truth is you can manage it successfully. Effective management of this skin problem requires education, lifestyle change, and skincare. Read on and learn why dryness around the mouth happens, how to recognize it, and get a deeper insight into its prevention and treatment.

Dry skin around the mouth

Dry skin around mouth is a common condition characterized by dryness and rash around the lips. Many have it due to inadequate skincare routine, allergies, or skin conditions. Dry and patchy skin around the mouth isn’t a life-threatening problem and can be managed easily. Treatment of this problem depends on the underlying cause.

Causes of dry skin around mouth

You’re probably wondering “Why is my skin so dry even when I moisturize?”. Your skin around the mouth can be dry due to multiple causes and factors such as:

  • Perioral dermatitis: the most common cause of dry skin in this specific area. It is a benign eruption that affects young, female adults. Although this condition affects the area around the mouth, in some cases it can spread[1] to other parts of the face.

  • Eczema: also known as atopic dermatitis, is a long-lasting or chronic condition that tends to flare. Eczema around the mouth may occur due to genetics, too much bacteria on the skin, and a weak skin barrier.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis: one of many types of dermatitis that is triggered by a reaction to an allergen that comes in contact with your skin.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis: a non-allergic skin reaction that occurs when an irritant damages the outer protective layer of the skin. Some people may react to strong irritants from a single exposure whereas others develop symptoms after repeated exposures[2].
  • Other causes: cold or windy weather, sun exposure, insufficient water intake, other skin conditions such as rosacea and psoriasis, and overdoing skincare routine such as excessive face washing.

Symptoms of dry skin around mouth

Symptoms of dry skin around mouth include:

  • Flakiness and peeling skin
  • Itchiness and irritation
  • Redness or inflammation
  • Tightness
  • Discomfort
  • Small bumps or pimples
  • Cracking or fissures in most serious cases
  • Pain or sensitivity


It is important to see a doctor if dryness, flakiness, and other symptoms of dry skin around mouth persist. You will undergo a physical exam and be asked questions about personal hygiene, bathing habits, skincare routine, and allergies to specific substances. It is best to provide honest answers because they can help your doctor determine the underlying cause of dryness around the mouth. Clinical diagnosis of conditions such as perioral dermatitis focuses on patient history and distribution and morphology[3] of lesions.

To rule out different causes of dry skin around mouth, a doctor may order an allergy test or skin biopsy if necessary. Once they diagnose the underlying cause of dryness around your mouth, the healthcare professional recommends the most suitable treatment approach.

How to treat dry skin around mouth

The exact treatment depends on the cause of the symptoms such as dryness and flakiness. For example, if your skin is dry due to contact dermatitis, you need to modify your lifestyle and skincare routine accordingly. In most cases, treatment of dryness and flakiness around the mouth involves the strategies described below.

1. Gently cleanse the area daily

A proper skincare routine is crucial for the management of various skin problems, including this one. Dry skin around mouth may result from washing your face too harshly, with cold or hot water, and the use of cleansers that irritate your skin.

Use a mild, fragrance-free cleanser to wash the face, including the area around the mouth. Ideally, you should adhere to a skincare regimen by skin type so choose products formulated for the needs of your skin. For dry skin, you should avoid cleansers with alcohol, plastics, artificial colors, fragrances, and other chemicals[4] that dry out the skin.

Harsh cleansers strip away natural oils and worsen skin dryness. Once you’re done washing your face (twice a day), use a towel to pat your skin dry.

2. Exfoliate dry skin

Exfoliation is a process of removal of dry patches and dead skin cells that tend to slough off slowly and keep building up on the skin, clogging pores. The main goal of exfoliation is to improve the health, texture, and appearance of your skin. Use a mild exfoliant designed for sensitive skin and exfoliate once a week. Exfoliating twice a week or more frequently could worsen the dryness of your skin.

Since it’s important to adjust your skincare regimen by skin type, avoid exfoliating if you have some form of dermatitis unless your doctor or dermatologist approves.

3. Change your habits

Evaluate your skincare and lifestyle habits to identify the ones that contribute to and worsen dryness. Make necessary changes to manage perioral dermatitis or other causes of dryness around the mouth. Some habits to change may include smoking, using oral health and skincare products with harsh ingredients, spending too much time in a hot shower, using irritating lip products, or constantly licking your lips. Simple changes in your lifestyle can do wonders for overcoming flaky and dry skin around your mouth.

Moisturize the area daily

4. Moisturize the area daily

Moisturizer is crucial to your skincare routine. However, it’s common for people to wonder “Why is my skin so dry even when I moisturize?” and the answer could be a wrong moisturizer. Avoid moisturizers with allergens, artificial ingredients, and alcohol. Instead, opt for moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acid, ceramides, aloe vera, coconut oil, or shea butter.

For people with dry skin and different types of dermatitis, oil-based moisturizers[5] could be more beneficial. An example of a great moisturizer is Infusoderm Deep Hydration Daily Moisturizer which nourishes, revitalizes, and protects sensitive skin.

Moisturize your skin twice a day, after cleansing, even if you have contact dermatitis and other forms of this skin condition.

5. Use a humidifier in winter and limit air conditioning

The air tends to lack moisture in dry environments and air-conditioned spaces, which leads to skin dryness. Dry air can aggravate your perioral dermatitis and worsen its symptoms. Consider using a humidifier to add more moisture to the air and protect your skin from excessive dryness at the same time.

Prevention tips

You can prevent dry skin around your mouth by adhering to these tips:

  • Avoid products with known allergens
  • Try not to use beauty and skincare products with alcohol and parabens
  • Avoid excessive air conditioning
  • Stay hydrated
  • Use gentle skincare products
  • Moisturize regularly
  • Avoid licking lips
  • Wear a scarf in winter to protect the area around the mouth
  • Humidify dry environment
  • Manage stress
  • Avoid overly hot or cold water when cleansing, lukewarm water is ideal

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the skin around my mouth suddenly dry?

The skin around your mouth becomes suddenly dry due to a flare-up of eczema around the mouth and other causes such as weather changes, dehydration, allergic reaction to products, irritation, or underlying conditions.

What causes dry skin at the corners of mouth?

Causes of dry skin at the corners of the mouth are atopic dermatitis and eczema that trigger angular cheilitis (a condition that affects corners of the mouth), vitamin deficiencies, excessive licking of the lips, irritants from saliva, dentures that don’t fit, drooling during sleep, misaligned teeth, and wearing a face mask. It is important to identify the exact cause in your case and modify your skincare regimen by skin type to manage this issue effectively.

What deficiency causes dry corners of mouth?

Deficiency in B-complex vitamins could lead to dry corners of the mouth. This is particularly the case with low levels of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B12, and B6. Enrich your diet with foods containing these ingredients or take multivitamin supplements. It’s useful to mention that vitamin deficiency could be the answer to “Why is my skin so dry even when I moisturize?”


Dry skin around mouth can be a frustrating skin problem due to flakiness, discomfort, bumps, and other symptoms that take their toll on a person’s confidence. See a doctor if the problem persists so they can diagnose the underlying cause. Modify your skincare routine by opting for gentle products instead of items with harsh ingredients.