Treating Perioral Dermatitis Naturally

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Before I left for a trip to Costa Rica back in January, I noticed that the skin around my nose and mouth was acting up and I wasn’t sure why. One day it would look super inflamed, then the next it would calm down a bit. But once I got back to Colorado and we lost Jackson, it ignited in an angry red mess. And the more product I tried putting on it and the more I tried to hydrate it with my normal skincare products that have saved my skin from dryness, the worst it got. Luckily instagram can be a super helpful place because I ended up sharing my frustration on instagram, wondering if it had to do with my diet, and I had many messages from people letting me know that it looked like perioral dermatitis. Shoot.

PaleOMG Treating Perioral Dermatitis Naturally

So what the hell is perioral dermatitis?

Perioral dermatitis is a rash that often shows up around the nose and mouth. It can be flaky, itchy, bumpy, and quite red. It can even burn when products are applied to it. It affects more women than men and often shows up in times of stress, during pregnancy, with heavy use of many skincare products, or from hormonal fluctuations. Think about your skin as another organ (since it is) – it’s not just what’s happening on the outside, it’s often due to what is happening inside (just like acne!).

How is perioral dermatitis treated?

This is where I started to get worried. If you’ve been around my blog or instagram regularly, you know I’m not a huge fan of the modern medicine experience I’ve had throughout the years. After being treated with antibiotics, miserable creams, and accutane for my acne, I finally got fed up with putting a bandaid over a bullet wound, and I started looking for different help in the functional medicine space while doing my own research. Through that, I was able to finally get answers for my acne. So when I was told by some followers that the only way to treat it was with antibiotics and steroids, I immediately felt defeated. The last thing I wanted to do was go to a dermatologist and be treated with those exact things that have caused such an issue with my skin in the past. Luckily I had an amazing follower who reached out to tell me that there were ways to treat it naturally. From the research I’ve now done with the help of this follower, I found out that steroids often create a cycle of seeing results then it coming back again, worse than ever. And antibiotics (as we know, they ruin our healthy gut bacteria) may be effective short term, but then the dermatitis shows back up again later. But there are other ways to treat it and I’ve tested a a few things so far! Here is what I have tried so far –

  • Remove skincare products with oils, creams, balms, really anything. Cut it all out for now.
  • Wash your skin with an extremely gentle cleanser.
  • Limit makeup at the beginning.
  • Remove fluoride toothpaste (I even asked for no fluoride treatment at the dentist the other day).
  • Manage your stress. This is so so important. I noticed that as soon as my stress levels rise, my skin flares up again. Making a conscious effort to reduce your stress will help reduce the redness and rash.

What should I use on my skin to treat perioral dermatitis?

Some research shows that this issue may stem from zinc depletion. And the thing about hormonal changes (i.e. pregnancy) or stress is that it depletes the body of zinc, causing the skin to flare up. This made total sense for me since I recently had to cut my zinc supplement out of my daily routine because I couldn’t sleep since I have a slow liver detox pathway and my liver has to work extra hard during pregnancy (pretty much my liver couldn’t take the excess supplements). But if you’re able to take a zinc supplement, I would highly recommend it! I’ve been concentrating on foods that are high in zinc, in the meantime.

  • Use a gentle cleanser like this foaming wash or this bar of soap. Both are super gentle and the bar of soap has the main ingredient of zinc in it!
  • Use a zinc based cream on skin such as this one or this one. I have tried both and both work great. The first time I used one of these zinc based creams after removing all my other skincare products and not wearing makeup, my skin almost cleared up overnight. It felt like a miracle!
  • Use a zinc based sunscreen to protect your skin such as this one.
  • And going on oral route, I found some posts saying that aloe vera juice can help with inflammation. Drinking 8oz a day is what is recommended. Since I’m pregnant and aloe vera juice can act like a diuretic and in turn cause uterine contractions, I’ve stuck with 2-4oz per day to be safe.

Below is what my skin looks like now, after about 2 weeks of shifting my skincare and managing my stress. I don’t have a picture from weeks ago, but the redness near my nose and around my smile lines has improved tremendously, as well as my chin. It’s still not healed 100%, but I’m getting closer each day and continue to see improvement! Sometimes it flares up more and sometimes it’s pretty calm – I’m guessing this just has to do with my stress and/or hormonal changes happening throughout this pregnancy.

PaleOMG Treating Perioral Dermatitis Naturally

Since I’ve had good luck with these products, I plan to continue to use them to see if my skin continues to heal with time. But I may want to try some of the products by a local company called Osmia Organics. They have a fantastic post about perioral dermatitis along with their own clean skincare products. They don’t talk about zinc in this post so I’m very lucky to have a follower who brought this up to me so I was able to figure things out a little quicker. There is also a helpful instagram post that I shared a couple days ago with more products and insight into perioral dermatitis, which is where I first learned about aloe vera juice.

I wanted to share this post because when you search perioral dermatitis, you’ll be flooded with information about treatment through steroids and antibiotics, and your dermatologist may prescribe that, as well. But there are ramifications to prescriptions like that, including the fact that they may not forever solve issue or even make it much worse with time. Hopefully this post gives you some insight into working with your body and skin (and mind!!) to help ease perioral dermatitis and control it with time. And remember, it’s not about fixing it overnight, it’s about making the daily changes to improve things day after day. Some days may be better than others, but those simple changes will continue to help you on your road to recovery!

PaleOMG Treating Perioral Dermatitis Naturally

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Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.

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14 thoughts on “Treating Perioral Dermatitis Naturally”

  1. I found that my perioral dermatitis flares up after consuming dairy. 2 days after I have it, the rash shows up on my face. There could be a dietary link for you too.

  2. Im so sad about having to stop the cleansing balms. I too started having this a couple of months ago, it was occurring once a month for a couple of days, now it just wont go away. Do you think once it clears, you can go back to some of your other products?

    1. i feel the same way. but yes, from what i’ve read, you can go back to normal products once it’s fully healed. i just haven’t gotten there yet. healing time is different for everyone!

  3. Love osmia organics! I found them during a rough time with perioral dermatitis. I was overdoing my skin care in general. Among other treatments I stopped all skin care and switched to just the black clay bar soap from osmia. It’s truly all your skin needs when cleansing and takes all my makeup off! It’s also quite moisturizing somehow. Highly recommend their products for PD and just in general!

  4. My 9 year old son has had a red ring around his mouth from constantly licking his lips for nearly 2 years. Mask or no mask, summer or winter, it was always there. We tried CeraVe, Aquaphor, CeraVe plus Aquaphor….it would go away, but come back right away if he ate something salty, or if the weather was dry and he had to lick his lips. I saw your post a few weeks ago and decided to try the Cicaplast balm. Holy crap, it’s gone! I don’t know what miracle is in that cream, but it must have made his skin retain moisture enough that he didn’t feel the need to lick his lips! Thank you so much for sharing. I hope your skin continues to improve so you can take one worry off your plate!

  5. I am so glad you posted about this. I have had this but didn’t know it was a recognized thing ever since getting pregnant with my daughter who is now a year old. I thought it would go away when I delivered… it didn’t…I thought it would go away when I stopped breast feeding…it didn’t. I hear you on the steroids and antibiotics. I did use topical steroids which did seem to help but it always came back. It’s much milder now for sure but I still get flares. I am excited to test out this zinc theory. Anyways I am just so appreciative that you are so open and share all of your experiences because you have helped me so much today! Thank you!

  6. HI Juli! I’m so inspired by your blog. I love that you apply your REAL LIFE to direct the topics that you write about. It’s like you’re sharing your journal with us. However, way beyond that, I understand how much work you put into it. It’s not just the writing that takes effort, but the pictures, links, and all the backend things that go unnoticed. Thank you for doing what you’re doing and motivating me in this virtual space.

  7. Hi Juli!
    Mine was from the ingredient fragrance in skincare and makeup. I eliminated fragrance and had to replace it all (this even included natural clean beauty that still used essential oils etc). It was a pain in the ass. It calmed down, but my skin barrier was so weak that i still couldnt put on anything without a flare up. Marie Veronique hands down saved my skin. Have you heard of her? She is a chemist, and her daughter is a physist and bio medical engineer and both estheticians who created a non toxic skin care line with focuses on the skin microbiome. I can’t thank them enough. I was so desperate and dealt with it for two years because i too didnt want steroids or antibiotics and had read about the vicious cycle too. Anyway, their website has a great blog you can check out! I nerd out on their science. They talk about zinc too. You can also email them a picture of your face and they recommend products for your skin issue. I started off with the “barrier restore” serum and very slowly added others from their line in the order they suggested. Now I can use the full regimen plus my new fragrance free makeup and never flare up. I tear up a little I’m so grateful. Thought I’d share in case it might help you or one of your readers. Also the website Skin Safe is more helpful than EWG when it comes to allergens in skincare. P.S. You are so damn beautiful without makeup!! I have followed you for about 10 yrs and appreciate you so much. Condolences on Jackson, and congrats on the new baby coming.

  8. Hi Juli, wondering if you could pass along the supplement that finally helped with your pregnancy constipation? I checked your pregnancy tab on insta, but couldn’t find it. Thank you

  9. I’m so glad I found this and follow you on Instagram!!!!!

    My dermatologist just told me that is what I have and sometimes this shit effin burns a lot. Elidel topical was recommended …I researched and the side effects stress me out. My derm may recommend something else like metro or clindamycin I’m sure, but I really want to try and treat naturally. Already declined oral antibiotics – taking that for a month… is insane to me and cannot be good at all. Can you kindly provide us with updates on your journey with PD. If you have any other suggestions of what you found working more or not etc.

    That all being said, she is all for conservative treatments but something I found interesting is she told me cinnamon can trigger it as well amongst other things! Did that follower who reached out to you end up clearing their skin for good naturally?

    1. i’ve heard that, too! that wasn’t something i removed from my diet, but it’s recommended. i just can’t speak to that experience. i was able to clear it up without removing cinnamon

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