How To Tell If Toothpaste Is Irritating Your Skin & What To Do

“Toothpaste ingredients like alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) can all be drying and irritating to the skin,” says board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D. “These formulations are meant to clean the tough surfaces of our teeth, not to be left on the relatively delicate facial skin.” That’s why derms shudder at the idea of using toothpaste as a spot treatment—despite the long-standing rumor that toothpaste can “dry out” a pimple, it can actually lead to contact dermatitis and make matters worse (think: itchy, blotchy, flaky skin).  

So, says King, if you notice irritated, dry, or red areas soon after brushing your teeth, it might be a sign that your skin is not a fan of your toothpaste. Additionally: “Fluorinated toothpastes have been identified as a possible trigger for perioral dermatitis,” she says, which results in tiny bumps around the mouth area—these are easy to mistake for breakouts, but if you notice a flare shortly after introducing a new toothpaste, your fluoride-laced product might be to blame. 

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