I Have A Skin Disease and I Need to Talk About It!

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Healing Perioral Dermatitis

That’s quite a title and it’s totally true.  It’s time to come clean because running a skin care blog with bad skin ain’t easy.  I feel my journey to healing could be helpful to some of you and a good example that when choosing to treat the body naturally, it can take time because you are addressing the body as a whole rather then remedying symptoms of something bigger.

Around 4 mos. ago I woke up to a small patch of tiny red bumps on the right side of my face near my mouth.  Assuming it was no biggie I carried on as usual.  Fast forward 2 mos. later and the rash has spread to both sides of my mouth, chin and around my eyes.  Talk about frustrating and unsightly.  The show must go on because I had 2 makeup posts scheduled so air brushing was a necessary evil.  After 2 mos. of no improvement and it spreading I realized this rash was going no where anytime soon and it was time to figure out what was going on.  After much research, it was abundantly clear that I have Perioral Dermatitis.

I wanted to talk about this skin issue because I believe it effects a large percentage of people.  There is so much information out there on how to cure it with a ton of bad information that could greatly prolong your recovery.

I must say, it is painful to post these pictures of myself.  My skin looks horrible and my case is mild.  I couldn’t talk about this skin issue without revealing what it looks like personally.  Because of my skin condition, I’m finding it very hard to maintain this skin care blog-ironic isn’t it?  I’m pushing myself to be in public and being in a new relationship and feeling yucky about my skin just plain sucks.  In fact, early in the relationship my BF came by unexpectedly and I had no makeup on.  He later told me he was relieved that I looked good without it.  He’s totally eating those words now!

I might add-the below pics show much improvement around my mouth. I am recovering and these pictures don’t reflect a flair up.  My eyes are the worst and most days I look like I’m sick.

What is Perioral Dermatitis?

There is a broad definition of this skin disorder but basically it is a rash on the face that is bacterial and fungal.  It is characterized by a circular patch of tiny bumps and redness around the laugh lines.  In some cases it effects the skin around the nostrils and in the creases of the nose.  It can also spread to the outer corners around the eye.  The rash is usually not painful but can be slightly itchy and burn at times.  It mainly effects women around 15-45 but can effect everyone.

Causes of Perioral Dermatitis:

An exact cause is unknown.  Everyone is different, but the most common cause is steroid exposure.

  1. Topical steroids can cause and greatly exacerbate PD.  Even inhalers that contain steroids can cause a skin reaction.
  2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate can also cause PD.  SLS is found in toothpaste (including Tom’s) and is a common foaming agent in shampoos and cleansers.  SLS should be avoided.
  3. Fluoride in water and toothpaste can cause PD.  Fluoride free toothpaste and water filters are always a good idea.
  4. Prolonged irritation
  5. Unbalanced hormones
  6. Yeast overgrowth
  7. Over moisturizing-I really want to address this cause because I am constantly preaching that facial oils will keep the skin from premature aging.  However, in some cases too much moisturizing can cause the skin not to moisturize itself.  Your own sebum is by far the best form of moisturizer.  It is custom made for your skin.  Sometimes when using a facial oil or balm your pores can become blocked, making it hard for the skin to detox itself.

Should you Involve a Doctor?

In my opinion this skin disorder is coming from the inside out.  It is up to you to take care of your body by eating properly and simplifying your skin care regime.  Most doctors will resort to oral antibiotics and an antibiotic cream.  I believe that because I gave into a round of antibiotics this summer, this compromised my gut and opened me up to this condition.  More antibiotics might clear the rash up in the moment, but compromising your gut will pretty much insure PD will come back.  It is very hard to restore gut health after antibiotics.  

Topical antibiotics is something I haven’t tried and know it’s not ideal.  An antibiotic cream will not treat the root of the issue but it could improve the rash’s appearance if proper diet is seriously put in place.

I have read that there are cases of doctors prescribing topical steroids with PD.  While a steroid cream will work immediately, it will wreak havoc after a few applications.  I tried hydrocortisone cream and saw immediate improvement but after a few applications, my rash came back with a vengeance.  Not one testimonial claimed that steroid cream helped their PD longterm.  Everything I read stated that steroid cream made the condition much worse.  I can not stress enough to not use a steroid on your skin.  The side effects are not worth it.

In Conclusion:

A few things I’ve learned about PD is that it wants to be left alone.  Exfoliation is out of the question and the majority of your skin care routine should be water based.  Your skin care should also be simplified.  Less is more.  I’ve also found that what you ingest can greatly effect your rash.  For me, sugar and alcohol cause my PD to flare up.

I am taking 1-2 TBSP. of apple cider vinegar in water 2x daily.  This helps a number of issues but it is anti fungal and can go a long way with detoxing. You should  take 1 tsp.-1 TBSP of ACV in water before each meal or twice a day, preferably on an empty stomach.

Supplements can help.  I am taking zinc, large doses of b5 (1,000mg), krill oil, multivitamins, probiotics and magnesium.  Getting your gut right is imperative so probiotics are vital.  From my research, zinc and b5 have been proven to greatly reduce the rash.  So far I have not found this to be true for me personally.  I just started THIS probiotic and believe it is hands down the best I’ve ever taken. Read more on it HERE.

I have also amped up my smoothie plus I make sure I have one daily-NO EXCUSES.  I take THIS collagen in my smoothie daily.  Collagen is extremely healing to the skin.  I’ve also added 1 tbsp. of unrefined coconut oil.  Remember coconut oil is anti fungal.  I’ve continued adding a handful of greens, chia seeds and kefir or yogurt.

Because perioral dermatitis is very similar to rosacea, spicy food, coffee, cinnamon, alcohol and sugar should be greatly reduced if not avoided totally.

Also, as you can see form the pics and especially if you have a more prominent case of PD, it often can be misdiagnoses as acne. PD must never be treated like acne.  It is totally different and an acne treatment will make PD much, much worse.

Topically, apple cider vinegar has been known to help this condition greatly.  Be sure to dilute it 50/50 with water and apply with a cotton pad.  I know I mentioned side effects of using too much oil on your skin but I am finding that a tiny amount of coconut oil is healing, calming and relieving my dry skin since my discontinued use of facial oils.

At this point I feel that this rash is a blessing in disguise.  Coming off a very indulgent holiday season, I am forced to tighten my routine greatly.  This rash is making it pretty clear I’ve got a gut issue once again.

Moving forward, I will continue to drop in and update you on what I find and my personal progress.  Don’t kill me, but I just read today that athlete’s foot cream has cleared up PD almost instantly.  I’m considering trying this.  If you’ve experienced PD, you know how frustrating it can be and how desperate you become.  Covering it with concealer and foundation is an impossible task, not to mention horrible for recovery.

All though most days I feel defeated, I do have hope that this skin disorder can be remedied.  Patience is key.  Please comment below if you have this condition!!  I could use some support and after the many hours of research I’ve done, I might be able to help!

xx, Jenni

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Jennifer Phillips worked as a licensed aesthetician for over 8 years before creating the green beauty blog, Jenni Raincloud and her natural skin care line, J. Raincloud Organics. Jennifer has been blogging full time for 7 years and loves to gain and share knowledge on living a natural lifestyle.

41 thoughts on “I Have A Skin Disease and I Need to Talk About It!”

  1. Jenni-
    I was diagnosed with PD several years ago. Mine was triggered by fluoride. I thought it was acne and my regular doctor treated it as acne. An online doctor made the diagnosis and she was spot on. It took a while to clear up, but after I cut as much fluoride as possible I maintained clearer skin. I use Kiss My Face toothpaste and I bought a water pitcher that filters out the fluoride. My teeth are fine, no repercussions from giving up the nasty stuff. I also take apple cider vinegar in capsule form. Most people have never heard of it so it’s an uphill battle to explain. Good luck and we can take the journey together! Nan

    1. Nan-Very interesting! So glad you pinpointed the issue. I am on well water so I believe I am not being exposed to fluoride but it’s worth double checking. I’ve changed my toothpaste from Tom’s to another brand to get rid of the SLS though. Are you still dealing with breakouts? Yes, I’ll keep posting what I find out!

    1. Linnea-You’re welcome! Keep me posted and I’ll keep posting about what I find. I just ordered Sovereign Silver spray. It’s on Amazon. Another reader suggest it for this condition. It’s cheap and natural so I’m in! Good luck!

  2. Thank you for being so open and candid, and educating us about a condition that most people have never heard of. And huge kudos to you for not taking the short term approach, but instead getting your body back in to balance. Interesting what Nan said in the comment above about flouride. I used to get acne breakouts around my mouth from flouride toothpaste. Now if I use it from time to time (like if I forget to pack it and grab some from the front desk of my hotel) I’m fine. But I don’t use it on a regular basis. ACV is some magical stuff, and everything you are doing is ultimately going to improve your overall health and well being. Although I know it’s hard to see the silver lining right now while you’re going through this. Sending prayers, love and positive vibes your way Jenni…you always inspire me!

    1. Elizabeth-It was hard posting those pics-I could’ve put some mascara on but that just irritates my eyes. I save that for Sunday church-ha! Fluoride is one of the known causes of this issue but it’s not my trigger since I’m on well water and avoid fluoride in my toothpaste. I really think mine is from bad diet. The wine and sweets were out of control this Christmas!! Gone are the days of no repercussions! Thanks for your prayers, vibes and support-I’ll take it all!!

  3. I’ve been dealing with this the last couple of years! It’s the worst! Mine also seems to flare up from sugar. I have been doing most of the supplements your doing and it finally cleared up. If I eat sugar it starts to come back and I double up on probiotics and stop the sugar and it hasn’t stayed for long. I also drink cider vinegar and lemon juice first thing in the morning and in the afternoon and to really help. I have been using high vitamin butter oil and fermented cod liver oil and that seems to really help calm things down. I am interested in trying the sovereign silver, how was that suggested to use? Thanks for sharing and keep us posted!

    1. Carey-Thanks for sharing what’s working. It’s good you’ve pinpointed sugar. I’m not totally sure with mine but I’m assuming it’s what I like to eat which is sugar and wine-ha! The Sovereign Silver comes in today. I got the spray and plan to spray it on my skin. They also have one that comes in a gel which might make more sense, it was on back order though. I’ll update if it works!! Good luck!

  4. Not fun, is it? Ive been battling psoriasis on my chin lately. Huge, red scaly patches. So attractive! And no, makeup makes it worse. Mine are almost gone. Here is what helps me. Diet- Milk is the main cause of mine but all dairy will aggrevate it over time. I also try to avoid sugar, all processed white grains. I make a ton of bone broth (chicken feet make the best broth, high in collagen). Probiotics everyday. I do take fish oil, B vitamins. I had started a strict detox so I’m not sure if the detox made it worse. I’ve found drinking a smoothie made with fruit, lettuce or kale, celery, spinach, parsley has helped my skin a ton.
    I moisturize with coconut oil and shea butter. Add additional oils as needed. I sometimes use essential oils on skin also. External stuff helps, but the real fix is the diet.
    Hope yours clears up!! If I come across anything new, I’ll let you know.

    1. Jessica-I’m on a candida cleanse and really trying to cut out sugar-I definitely should do the legit diet though. I’m resistant though!! Have you done the diet?

  5. I am so happy to come across this post! I started to get a rash around my mouth and nose several months ago and have had no idea what it is!!! I have put ACV on it which helped. Collagen also helped. I had tried Dirty Lemon’s collagen drink and noticed great improvement. I am going to try cutting back on the facial oil to see if that helps… hopefully i do not have to give up my oils cleanser.

  6. What a courageous revelation! This is truly an eye opening post. Endless thanks Jenny. It is actually going to be an answered prayer to many who are facing the same conditions. My mum and aunt went through a similar condition a few months ago but they rapidly, let me say miraculously regained their health and wellness through this natural evergreen product. You can check it out here: https://tinyurl.com/yddqtfpu

  7. I just read your article about using the Tinkle dermaplaning. Do you think this contributed to the onset or aggravated your condition? I suffer from acne Rosacea, which I have under control using Finacea gel.
    I was considering using the Tinkle for my peach fuzz, and now I am wondering if it will cause breakouts or infection.
    Thank you

  8. Good Lord this is an interesting read, I do not have this condition, but I DO have fussy sensitive skin. (I hope it wasn’t paying attention & decides it should give this a try!). I have had to use toothpaste for sensitive teeth for years now – to the best of my knowledge they don’t make one fluoride free – suggestions?

    1. Hi Lanette-Yes, I hope your skin isn’t paying attention!!! I use fluoride free toothpaste. Tom’s of Main has one but I’m currently using THIS on because it is also SLS free.

  9. Your post comes like mana from heaven! I laughed at your brave admission of everything, pictorial and otherwise. You have worked out in a few months what it has taken me five years to suffer to realisation! I’m 45 (got PD at 40). I’ve refined my treatment over this period and the rash has gone from being around my mouth, nose, eyes and chin to now just under my nostrils. Anyone with this condition understands the misery it brings. Can’t wear make up to cover it of course but some days it’s not at all noticeable. I can happily say I’m looking good again. I do everything you listed (inside and out) but also started adding one drop of tea tree oil to my moisturiser both morning and night. Can confirm biggest bads to be sugar (not so hard for me to cut out), wine (don’t think I’ll ever cut it out…:/… exfoliation… and the biggest of them all….gut gut gut. If I had found your post five years ago I could have a avoided some real lows over this bloody skin condition so thank you…:)

    1. Frances-Thank you so much for your kind words! PD is ridiculously hard to pinpoint. I think I’m like you-sugar and wine. And the wine is not going-all though I’ve cut back. Also, the gut is the command center of it all! I hope you continue to have luck with keeping your PD at bay!!!

  10. I had PD a few years back. I went immediately to my dermatologist and was given steroid cream. It spread quickly to my nose, and inside my nose a bit. That was too far for me. I bought a jar of Neem oil. The smell almost floored me, and kept the children and pets at arms length. It did; however, clear it up very quickly. Neem oil worked for me.

  11. I was so glad to run into your article! I am 63 and have been blessed with great skin which has allowed me to play with many DIY skincare products. I developed this exact skin condition about 7-8 months ago! Flared up all around my eyes and nose and into my laugh lines….just as you explained. I had started playing around with adding niacinamide (vitamin B3) to my skincare products and that is when I started having this problem. Not sure if it was related to this or not but when I have tried using it again I had a huge flare-up, so now, even though there are amazing claims to how great it is for your skin I have stopped adding it to everything. I tried hydrocortisone cream, anti-fungal cream, arnica infused oil, etc, etc none of it worked. What has seemed to help is applying pure lanolin at night to the outbreak areas. I still use my DIY anti-aging night and morning oils on the rest of my face. So now, I am only washing my face with water, with an occasional mask or sugar scrub, I do use a DIY pressed cream foundation to cover up the redness for work days but now that I am using the lanolin it has really helped. I will be following this and may try need Oil as well. Thank you and thanks to everyone who is contributing.

    1. Suzanne-Pure lanolin is a great idea. From what I’m finding, this type of dermatitis either wants to be left alone or greatly nourished. Good luck with yours! I hope you continue to keep it under control. I just wrote an updated post about what’s working for me. I’ve found a lotion that seems to really be helping. I’m also taking collagen in my smoothie. I explain it all in THIS post.

  12. Hi there, I have had this since June and I started using the antifungal cream. I used it for 6 weeks (very sparingly). It was gone for the duration of the cream, but once I stopped using it, it came back. Not as bad though, just slightly. Wondering if you ever found a cure for yourself?! I’m so frustrated as I dont want to keep using the cream. Looking for something permanently. Thanks

    1. Hi Noopur-I have been able to keep it at bay. It flares once in a while but I wrote THIS post about several things that I believe have really made a difference. It is so frustrating, I feel your pain! Hope this helps!

  13. Hi Jenni,
    It feels like there are ever more articles about PD online now!
    My personal experience is that it is stress-based, but other factors may make it worse (exfoliation, excessive cleaning with hot water, too much face product/ oil, etc, etc). If your skin is having a “freak out” the best quick relief is icing sugar and olive oil paste. This should calm is down overnight. But getting rid of it entirely is a different matter. As we are about to head into winter I’m worried about how I can moisturize without making my PD get worse again. Going to experiment with homemade moisturizer.
    Drinking lots of water will also help overall skin complexion. I used to be bad at this but now I try to drink at least 3 pints a day (helps with mental clarity too!).

    1. Katy-I agree. Once I became familiar with it, I started finding info. everywhere! Thanks for sharing your experience! I agree that stress is such a factor! Have you seen my follow up post on this with the most amazing moisturizer for PD? Find it HERE.

  14. I am currently battling this as well. Such a pain! Mine is around my nose folds, mouth but I also get it on the cheeks. Liquid foundation seems to be extremely irritating – though probably not the cause. When I wear liquid foundation I can literally see/feel the bumps coming up one by one. When I wash it off, they go away….so strange! I can’t pinpoint what might be in them that could cause the flare. I have been on a low-carb diet for a long time because I had PCOS – it definitely cleared up any acne, but doesn’t seem to help with this. I’m going to try probiotics and a zinc supplement. My skin care routine is very mild, mostly rinse with water and use an aloe gel and a thin layer of Avene Tolerance Extreme Emulsion. I’m also going to try my son’s zincofax on a few areas lol…who knows! 🙂

    1. Michelle-Such a bummer-Wonder if you’re allergic to the liquid foundation and experiencing a delayed response? Have you seen my follow up post on the product that seemed to really work for me? HERES that post. Good luck!

  15. I’m just starting to see a big improvent after my first encounter with PD, which was sudden and horrendous!
    Mine was steroid induced and I think a day in the sunshine really brought it out.
    I found Sudocrem to be the best thing to use. It didn’t irritate it and really seemed to help soothe and heal. I slathered it on before bed! I also dabbed it on in the morning, which helped cover the redness when I had to go to work with no make up on (the horror!!)
    I had to wait a week to see the doc, who prescribed 2 months of Lymeciclyn antiobiotics. So far I’m healing really well but hoping it doesn’t come back after the antibiotics..

    I completely cut out any harsh chemicals – face wash, moisturiser and flouride toothpaste. Just used a super sensitive Avene Thermale cleanser (not the best to remove make-up but didnt cause irritation) around the non-inflamed parts of my face, and just gently washed the sore bits with warm water on a cotton wool pad, and loads of sudocrem. I’m about 2 weeks in, so far so good.

    1. B-I’m so glad you’re seeing improvement! It is so frustrating to deal with this skin issue! I would not recommend antibiotics since they are so hard on your gut-be sure to double up on a good probiotic! I haven’t had a flare up since I wrote this but I think I can contribute a lot of my success with what you’ve said-cutting out most products and really going easy. I’ve also got my health in check as well. Cutting out gluten and grains and really trying to relax on the wine and sugar has helped. thank your for sharing this! Best of luck!

  16. Hi Jenni!

    This post resonates with me so much!! I’ve never had any kind of acne condition in my life but about 6 weeks ago I woke up with a rash on the right side of my chin and I was so confused! Tried babying it, eating super clean, going off histamines, alcohol, sugar, etc and no avail. I would love to know what worked for you! I am about to go to the derm this week but I want to treat the root not the symptom so would love to know what’s working for you. Thank you so much!

    1. Erica-Oh no!! So frustrating. Mine has cured completely and never come back so there’s hope! Are you on a good probiotic? I’m sure you are but I take a probiotic I swear by. Correcting gut balance goes such a long way for so many issues. If you’re interested in the probiotic go HERE. Good luck!!!

  17. Hi – I had this too, in my case it was probably caused by a steroid inhaler flonase – it was so painful – my dermatologist set me on an oral antibiotic and it cleared up miraculously, neem oil also helped a little.

    It has not come back since.

    1. Elizabeth-So glad it cleared and hasn’t come back. Mine hasn’t either and I heard many people experience it coming back randomly after they have it initially.

  18. have any of you heard of LTM-100? it’s a root the native americans in nevada used. it kept ALL of them from getting the 1918 flu. when it was discovered by a doctor he used it to cure the 1918 flu, in his office. it didn’t become popular because a sulfur drug was invented at the same time. but it works on bacterias, viruses and fungus… and many other things like lyme, UTI… people have said it got rid of old entrenched viruses and fungal infections. there’s no adverse effect on microbiome. this is great to have in your medicine cabinet. the Barlow family has been making it for a couple generations. https://barlowherbal.com/collections/shoes it’s amazing. but you need to be informed about the one time detox rash that can occur. it’s a small percentage but the detox rash is uncomfortable. https://barlowherbal.com/blogs/blog/lomatium-dissectum-detox-rash-information SINCE THIS RASH IS BACTERIAL AND FUNGAL IN NATURE, COULD THIS CLEAR YOUR BODY OF THIS RASH?? notice the remedies involve supporting the liver. i used detox teas especially with dandelion root and milk thistle before and while taking for the first time and had no rash. they also have a topical balm with this herb. maybe this balm could kill the bacteria and fungus on contact. it’s super powerful for the immune system too. read all about it on the sites i listed! ❤

    1. Jenn-I’ve never heard of LTM-100. I will look it up. The rash sounds like a die-off symptom which probably means it’s very effective and possibly strong. Thanks for leaving this comment. We all need natural alternatives on the back burner during this pandemic.

  19. I have started getting perioral dermatitis only during my period for the past several months. The dry, flaking skin then seems to slough off of its own accord while I am cleansing my skin with my usual pure aloe vera gel. 3 weeks of no rash and then about a week of a rash like clockwork. In my case then, I feel it has (mostly) got to be hormonal though I am also addressing my gut/liver.

    Curiously enough, the monthly rash began in November when I started taking an oil-based vitamin E supplement different from my usual dry one with less IUs. Vitamin E can affect hormones. The one month I took less, I had no rash. The one month I took more, was the worst outbreak yet to the point of a crack forming in the skin and bleeding. I have been off the E for a few weeks (tossed out the rest) but am already broken out with perioral dermatitis prior to my period (usually starts a couple of days in). Maybe my body needs more time to flush out the Vitamin E since it is oil-soluble.

    Not sure what to do as my skin routine is already basic, mild and natural since I have sensitive skin. Since the pandemic, I have been cleansing my skin less so that could be a culprit (guess I might not be a one time a day person like my husband is after all) as could applying too much oil (sea buckthorn seed oil which is usually excellent for dry skin rashes) when i used to just use a few drops. Am considering trying neem oil in case I have any lingering bacteria on my skin from not washing my face twice a day.

    Giving up fluoride toothpaste is not an option for me due to a dental issue (receded gumline in areas with exposed dentin) and gut issue (GERD which I am working on healing) which both make my teeth more prone to decay. I just won’t risk it.

    Will update in a couple of months.

    1. Star-This has got to be hormone related but also very promising that you connected the Vitamin E supplement. Let’s hope it’s just taking your body a while to detox from it and you’ll be back to normal soon.
      I’ve honestly never heard of this type of skin issue related to hormones so I’ll be very interested to get your update.
      It’s good your addressing the gut and liver. I’m learning that I am estrogen dominant and that the liver needs to be addressed so that my body can properly release the excess estrogen. I’m always amazed at how our bodies organs all work together and often the whole body needs to be addressed when something is wrong.
      Best of luck and please keep me posted!

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