Perioral Dermatitis: The rash that continues to haunt me

*NOTE: This is an old post from several months ago. I have posted an update recently, be sure to check it out!

In this post, I want to share my experience with perioral dermatitis, in hopes that it will provide advice/insight to anyone out there who is looking for answers. Trust me, I understand how frustrating this rash is and how hopeless it makes you feel. I avoided eye contact with people, I avoided being near bright lights, and I even avoided many social situations because I was so self-conscious about my skin.

My story begins back in November of 2015. I had just started college, and I definitely had a lot of stress in my life. I was in a new place, separated from my friends and boyfriend at the time, and I was having a lot of trouble making friends.

I noticed that these strange red bumps were cropping up around my mouth area, under my nose, and on the outer corners of eyes. I was confused because I never had any skin issues growing up, just the occasional pimple here and there. Frustrated, I began to dab acne medication on the red spots, hoping they would go away. To my horror, this only made them angrier and the bumps started to spread upwards onto my cheeks, and even appeared on the center of my forehead. My self-esteem plummeted and I would only go out on rare occasions with tons and tons of makeup on. If I did go out, I would constantly look in the mirror to check my skin and ensure my makeup was still intact. I would barely look at people because I was so insecure. Whenever I talked to someone, I assumed they were just staring at my skin.

As time went on, I became more and more frustrated with the rash and began googling my symptoms. I found a condition called “perioral dermatitis” and the symptoms lined up to exactly what I was experiencing. I saw several natural remedies such as coconut oil and calendula cream, which I tried that night and it did nothing to help the condition. If anything, it made my skin more irritated. After several days of trying natural treatments, I finally caved and decided to go to a dermatologist.

The dermatologist was extremely kind and understanding. She prescribed Metrogel and a Doxycycline antibiotic. I took two pills of the Doxycycline for two weeks, then tapered off to one pill a day for another couple weeks. The rash cleared up COMPLETELY and I was so happy. Finally, I had clear skin again! A blissful seven months later, I began to notice bumps cropping up again. I was devastated.

I didn’t want to take antibiotics again, so instead I tried literally everything under the sun. This includes:

  • Diluted apple cider vinegar blotted on the areas
  • Diaper rash cream (zinc oxide)
  • Himalaya Botaniques Antiseptic cream
  • Mama Nature Proskin cream
  • Manuka honey
  • Violet extract
  • Colloidal silver
  • Anti-fungal cream

Unfortunately, none of these methods gave me long term results. The only thing that may have helped slightly is the Apple cider vinegar combined with the Proskin, which gave me short term relief while I was on vacation. I also had limited stress during that time and was going into the ocean everyday (salt water/sunshine does wonders for the skin) so that could be another reason that the rash seemed to flare down for about a week during the summer.

When I got back from vacation, the rash got worse, and I got so depressed about my skin that I literally would avoid all social situations, even dinner with my family. I cried almost everyday. Finally, I decided to take matters into my own hands and see another dermatologist. She immediately said it was perioral dermatitis (which I already knew) and gave me another prescription for Doxycycline, and also Elidel cream. I took my first pill of Doxycycline today (August 16th, 2016) and will take two pills a day over the next four weeks in hopes to get rid of this thing. I’m also using the Elidel, as it seems to get rid of the bumps.

If there’s anything I can recommend to you guys struggling with this terrible condition, here is what I have found helpful:

*AVOID ALL STEROIDS: This is so important and it includes all types of steroids, even nasal steroids like Flonase for allergies. I was using this for two years and I believe it may have triggered my perioral dermatitis (especially the terrible redness under my nose)

*CHANGE PRODUCTS: Switch your shampoo, body wash, face wash, toothpaste and so on to an all natural brand (I recommend Osmia Organics because the owner herself struggles with this condition). It is very important to avoid sodium lauryl sulfate (in most common hair products and face-washes) and fluoride (in most common toothpaste) when you have this condition!

*DON’T TOUCH, PICK OR EXFOLIATE: Leave the rash alone. Touching and obsessing over it will make it look redder and more irritated. NEVER try to pop your bumps, this will only spread the condition and make it worse.

*MANAGE YOUR STRESS AND EAT HEALTHY: Do yoga, exercise, get fresh air and sunshine. Eat healthy foods, including lots of vegetables and fruits. Relax. Breathe. People still love you, even if you have this condition. It’s not as bad as you think it is. Hang in there, it will get better. I have noticed that having a more positive mindset has improved my skin dramatically.

*CONSIDER A GUT HEALING PROTOCOL: I do not recommend taking drugs for this condition because long term, it does more harm than good. Instead, you should look into healing your gut. Naturopaths are very knowledgeable about this information. You can read about how to heal your gut in this post.

If any of you have questions about this condition, feel free to ask me!

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8 responses to “Perioral Dermatitis: The rash that continues to haunt me”

  1. Mackenzie Avatar

    Hi Katie,

    I’m not sure if you are still struggling with perioral dermatitis, but I struggled with mine for 3 years. I started using Rodan and Fields Soothe regimen back in September of 2016 and I haven’t had any redness or bumps since I started. I loved my results so much that I started selling the products, and now I want to reach out to others with perioral dermatitis because I know how frustrating it can be!!! If you are still looking for answers for how to manage this, let me know!

    1. holisticallykatie Avatar

      Hi Mackenzie thank you so much for your suggestion! I will try that out. I am currently using the Osmia Organics Black Clay soap and it seems to keep the dermatitis pretty calm, but I definitely will try out that product and see if the dermatitis goes away.

  2. […] out grains from my diet to see if it would have any improvement on my skin, and it has helped my perioral dermatitis dramatically. I will do a separate post, but I am still transitioning from a vegan diet to a paleo […]

  3. […] everyone. I have been receiving some comments and questions recently on my blog post about my perioral dermatitis. This post has been my most-viewed post this month, so I thought I would give an update on where my […]

  4. […] to break out everywhere. After doing some research into this issue, I found a condition called perioral dermatitis, which I have discussed previously on my blog. This nasty skin condition completely ate up my life. […]

  5. […] out in what looked like hives around my nose and mouth. I later found out this condition is called perioral dermatitis, which is basically acne, rosacea, and eczema all formed into one monster. On your face. This […]

  6. […] The other aspect of this experience that I loved was that after the facial, Nina gave me specific dietary and lifestyle recomemndations to implement to retain my health, inside and out. For example, she suggested a few herbs for me and some skincare items such as rose water, and a soothing skin balm by Banyan Botanicals to use on particularly dry and sensitive areas(to prevent my perioral dermatitis). […]

  7. […] love discussing this topic; it is quite interesting to me. As many of you know, I used to deal with bad breakouts due to a systemic gut inbalance. I have learned a lot of crucial information about how to keep my skin clear and healthy, and […]

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