Treating Perioral Dermatitis Naturally
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.
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.
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!
Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.
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