The Role of Bacteria in Acne

Periorificial dermatitis is a skin condition that causes clusters of small, itchy, and sometimes sore red bumps on the face. When the condition affects the lower half of the face, it may be known by the more specific term of perioral dermatitis.

While the acne-like breakouts of folliculitis tend to go away on their own, it can feel unsettling to suddenly see these appear on your skin. A board-certified dermatologist can tell you whether you have folliculitis and help you feel more comfortable.

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Susan Bard told Insider that it most commonly presents around the nose and mouth and is usually linked to overuse of topical steroids. It can also be triggered by inhaled prescription steroid sprays used in the nose and the mouth, some toothpaste, and heavy face moisturizers.

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Risk factors

“Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin condition that can cause doughnut-shaped pink or skin-colored bumps on the skin. When small, these may be confused with pimples,” Bard told Insider.

Seek immediate medical care if you experience signs of a spreading infection. These include a sudden increase in redness or pain, fever, chills, and a feeling of being unwell (malaise).

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The condition is generally harmless and usually clears by itself, though in some people this may take between six and 18 months.

Folliculitis is often caused when hair follicles are infected with bacteria, commonly Staphylococcus aureus (staph). It may also be caused by viruses, fungi, parasites, medications or physical injury. Sometimes the cause isn’t known.

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If you keep your immune system healthy and stop doing whatever is causing the folliculitis, it will usually go away.

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It’s easy to mistake folliculitis for body acne.

“Chickenpox is quite commonly mistaken for acne. That is because it causes an itchy rash along with small blisters that are filled with fluid,” Dr. Hardik Soni, emergency medicine physician and medical director of Ethos Spa, Skin, and Laser Center, told Insider.

Symptoms can vary. You may not feel anything. Sometimes, the infection causes itchy skin. It’s also possible for your skin to feel painful.

Acne-like breakouts could be folliculitis

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Insider consulted with dermatologists and other doctors to identify some of the most-common skin bumps that may masquerade as pimples, but are actually something totally different.

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Images 1 and 2 used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

“Milia can look like whiteheads, but they are actually tiny keratin cysts that form in a pore. Since milia are encased under skin, they can sit there for months bothering you unless they are extracted,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Heather Downes told Insider.

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