When it comes to perioral dermatitis, if you have been there, done that, and gotten the perioral dermatitis tee shirt, then this article is for you.
My condition started as a red, itchy rash around my mouth.
That quickly became dry and flaky.
Before I knew it, I was in the weeds dealing with a condition known as perioral dermatitis.
As soon as my doctor diagnosed me, I quickly learned that when traditional dermatology is faced with perioral dermatitis, it usually turns to a bevvy of oral antibiotics and antibiotic creams.
I’m not one for just taking antibiotics, and after much research, I set about healing my perioral dermatitis, which you can read about here.
If you have exhausted all avenues with your dermatologist and are looking for a more holistic, natural approach, join me as we look at the needle movers that helped me to heal my skin.
Before I Begin
I want to mention I have not been paid to talk about or share my story. and there are no affiliate links.
When I am asked about the products I use on my skin, I hesitate to answer because I know how metabolically different we are. This isn’t about telling you what to put on your skin or in your body; I see a bigger picture, where there are many factors that contributed to my skin healing, including gut health, topical skin products, an alkalising diet, supplements, stress management and more.
This is my honest account of my experience with perioral dermatitis and what worked to heal my skin:
1. Avoid sulphates
I became a label detective and avoided anything with a lather: Sodium Laureth/Lauryl sulfate found in body gels, detergent, soap, and shampoos, can be a big trigger. I love this shampoo. It’s extremely nourishing and sulphate free.
2. Avoid fluoride in your toothpaste and water
I discovered fluoride in my toothpaste was inflaming the skin around my mouth, so I switched to this powder-based toothpaste which is fluoride and surfactant-free and great for gums.
3. Give your liver a detox
Whilst it might seem odd to relate this to systemic problems, there is a close connection between perioral dermatitis and an overloaded liver. Your liver is responsible for removing excess hormones, antibodies, and toxins; inflammation is inevitable if it’s running on empty. Giving my liver a rest positively affected my gut health.
4. Take a course of probiotics.
There are correlations between periorificial dermatitis fungal and bacterial imbalances in the gut, especially if you’ve taken broad-spectrum antibiotics.
I certainly feel that probiotic supplements have been a key part of my skincare routine. On the other hand, I don’t feel comfortable listing the brands I’ve used because the naming of certain probiotics would be interpreted as me ‘recommending’ them for you, which I cant do without knowing what your unique case is.
Instead, I recommend working with a nutritionist who will support your healing journey and recommend you professionally.
5. Repair your barrier function:
A common theme I noticed with my inflamed skin was an impaired barrier function.
The team at the Naked Chemist explained that when your protective barrier can’t perform its role effectively, it allows external stressors and irritants, such as pollution and allergen particles, to permeate deep in the dermis, causing a vicious cycle which makes your skin reactive.
This is an interesting read on how you can heal your barrier function.
6. Avoid harsh ingredients
Studies are finding that there is a rise in perioral dermatitis due to incorrect ingredients, such as synthetic preservatives and irritating fragrances, which break down your protective barrier and upset your Ph and your skin’s delicate microbiome.
I avoided using any actives such as vitamin C, harsh exfoliants, alcohols or peels on my skin and ensured they were free from fragrances or essential oils.
7. Keep your makeup to a minimum
My condition spread to the corners of my eyes, and keeping my makeup to a minimum really helped with perioral dermatitis on eyelids.
7. Manage your stress levels.
Natural treatments for perioral dermatitis must be supported with lifestyle modifications to create meaningful, lasting change.
Stress can be a mitigating factor, so I introduced healthy lifestyle changes to help me manage my stress; as I was going through a difficult time,
I firmly believe that my stress management was a big piece of the puzzle because, as I have since learnt, too much stress can cause the release of several hormones in our body that greatly affect our skin.
8. Gut Health
While it may sound strange, there is a very close relationship between your digestive tract and the health of your skin. Some researchers believe that inflammation and a rash on the face mean that there is also inflammation throughout the gut.
Book an appointment with a medical expert or functional practitioner knowledgeable about the gut-skin connection. I believe this was a big part of helping with my healing journey.
9. Go on an alkalising diet
My naturopath has had a lot of success treating people through a vegetarian, alkaline diet, which reduces inflammation in your body.
10. Strip back your skincare routine.
I found this to be a really large part of my skin healing. What you put on your skin topically is as important as what you do internally.
Whenever I applied any skin care cream to my skin, I would have a burning sensation, and on occasion, my skin would crust and blister. Samantha from the naked Chemist advised me to stop using cream-based products, as they contain emulsifiers that can trigger periorbital dermatitis.
Do not exfoliate or pick at your skin; I avoided anything with scrubbing bubbles that could cause tiny micro-tears in my skin.
My simple skincare routine
- I used miracle cleanse (without essential oils) twice daily to gently cleanse my skin.
- I would apply H20 hydrating skin shot and let it sink in. High molecular weight hyaluronic don’t irritate your skin; instead, it keeps it plump and hydrated, and I found it helped to reduce the inflammation in my skin
- I avoided emulsifiers and occlusive in my skincare. I found equilibrium balancing gel healing, I layered it over my perioral dermatitis flare-up, and it helped to stop it in its tracks
- I did all of the above for 4 to 6 weeks and began to see results after this time because it was in line with my skin’s natural cellular turnover
- I booked in with a naturopath at the 8-week mark, and we began work internally healing my gut and moving on to the next healing phase
- I found my severely dry skin craved more moisture. My skin was repaired, and the rash reduced, so I introduced fortify barrier repair cream into my routine to repair your barrier function
I didn’t use any other products on my skin at this time. Less is best when it comes to treatment for perioral dermatitis.
Hopefully, I have inspired you to take extra care of your skin with all this new information.
The causes of perioral dermatitis are varied; One person’s stubborn rash is due to topical steroid withdrawal or fungal infection, whilst another may be due to gut dysbiosis or an overloaded liver.
It will take time to heal your skin, but the results you see will be long-lasting if you genuinely invest time in understanding this condition.
I understand the frustration and powerlessness that perioral dermatitis can have, but there is hope. Be patient and committed and remember, it’s a process; healing can be slow because of your skin’s inflammatory process, so patience is a virtue.
I recommend sticking to your treatment recommendations for at least 4 to 6 weeks and finding a good nutritionist or naturopath who can support your internal healing.
I understand how frustrating, embarrassing and depressing it is to have a blotchy red rash on your face, but removing the stress surrounding this condition is essential.
Remember what you believe and that story you tell yourself significantly impacts your health, which is reflected in your skin.
No matter how low you feel about your skin’s current state, always remind yourself of how many things you have to be grateful for in your life.
Learning to love and accept yourself within and without is a significant part of your skin healing journey.