Tuesday, 20 January 2015

How to Cure Perioral Dermatitis Naturally

A lot of people land on my blog while researching perioral dermatitis so I thought I'd list a few things that I think can help soothe this condition.

Perioral dermatitis or hormonal acne?

I've chronicled my diagnosis of perioral dermatitis here (with pictures!). First up, I want to say in the spirit of full disclosure that I've recently started wondering if I really had perioral dermatitis. Perhaps it was just a really, really bad bought of hormonal acne related to postpartum hormone surges. However, postpartum hormone surges can also cause perioral dermatitis, so who really knows?

Definitely not dermatologists. I'm not convinced that physicians know what-the-eff they are doing when they diagnose someone with the condition. At its definition, perioral dermatitis means 'around the mouth'. So, my doctor took one look at the pattern of my acne (which was a horrible, bumpy and inflamed mess of a rash around my mouth), prescribed tetracycline and finacea cream, but said nothing more about it. He began  treating the symptoms, but had no idea why I had it, how to treat the cause, or how to prevent this from happening with subsequent pregnancies. And he didn't mention any products/chemicals I should stay away from.

[Cue the beginning of my disdain for the way conventional medicine treats skin conditions]. 

However, I do strongly believe that the following can help soothe your skin, especially if what is causing you pain and embarrassment are bumps, rashes and acne around your mouth. So throw out the antibiotics and prescription creams and begin healing yourself naturally (by 'throw out', I mean dispose of responsibly at a pharmacy :).

8 months later - naturally clear skin and feeling great!

Stop obsessively washing your face and switch to a natural and gentle cleanser without Sodium Lauryl Sulfates. Wash once a day, or even less. 

Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfates (SLS) are chemical surfactants that are in pretty much anything that foams or bubbles. They are known to aggravate perioral dermatitis. SLS are potentially toxic and are currently being evaluated under Health Canada's Chemicals Management Plan.  It's a challenge to find any face wash or shampoos that don't have this chemical in it, but I found that Burt's Bees is a good line for being 'close to' natural and readily available. I've used both the Burt's Bees Royal Jelly Cleanser and the Soap Bark and Chamomile Cream Cleanser and prefer the cream cleanser. SLS are in most toothpastes as well, even some of the more natural brands. Here's a brand I use that is both fluoride and SLS-free.

Throw out your conventional moisturizer.   

Forget moisturizing all together or switch to something natural and oil-based. Coconut oil, hemp oil, jojoba oil, rosehip oil. . . begin doing some research on what works for your skin type. When I was first struck down with perioral dermatitis, I switched to coconut oil as my moisturizer. I'm now using rosehip oil, as I find it less pore clogging. I firmly believe now that 'less is more' when it comes to skin care and I moisturize about twice a week. Even if I'm going to wear a bit of foundation, I don't moisturize first. I would have thought myself bonkers before, but it's amazing how soft my skin is now. Also, I live in one of the driest, windiest and coldest (in the winter) provinces in Canada, so if I don't need to moisturize to have smooth and non-flaky skin, neither do you! A good fish oil supplement works to nourish your skin from the inside. I recommend Green Pasture Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil blend.


Consider not putting ANYTHING on your skin for awhile.

My cousin was diagnosed with perioral dermatitis about a year and a half ago (we are a family plague with skin problems), and she said the way she cleared it was by not wearing a stitch of makeup for months on end and being quite strict with her diet (she didn't elaborate on the diet, but she's celiac, so absolutely no gluten and she cut back on sugar). Her skin is clear and gorgeous now and she's back to wearing makeup. The Caveman Regimen is a skin care theory and practice that a lot of people have used to clear their skin.

Look into the type of tap or bottled water you're drinking. Use a toothpaste without fluoride.

Is the water fluoridated? Read about how fluoride may cause fluoroderma - a skin condition commonly misdiagnosed as perioral dermatitis. In October 2013, I read the Cellulite Investigation's blog and it was like a lightbulb went off for me. My skin looked very similar to her skin, and my acne did follow a pattern of getting worse when I was living in cities where the water was fluoridated (I have lived in two Canadian cities that have banned fluoridation and three cities that do fluoridate water). Then and there, I stopped drinking tap water, and purchase Culligan/reverse osmosis water. I was quite strict about this for 6 months, but have eased off a bit and don't worry now if I drink tap water. I am now quite appalled at the medicalization of the drinking water supply and feel strongly that it is extremely unnecessary.

Consider doing a candida cleanse to help heal your gut and begin taking anti-fungals. 

My skin cleared up very nicely while doing a one week Love Vitamin candida cleanse challenge. I'll write more about the candida/gut/acne link in a future post, as I can't say enough about how many skin issues are likely linked to the balance of bacteria in our gut I took Thorne Research Formula SF722 anti-fungals for most of 2014 as they are safe while breastfeeding and they cut my inflammation almost immediately after starting them. I'm now taking Berberine, and find this powerful anti-fungal is working beautifully to clear my skin.

Nourish your skin from within with a healthy skin diet.  

I'm now making sure that I eat a diet that feeds my skin from within, and I try and stay away from foods that spike my insulin like coffee and sugar, and limit my grain intake. I also take certain supplements like zinc and magnesium to help my skin. The result? I feel fantastic, and my skin looks amazing.

What's been working for you to clear your perioral dermatitis? Have you tried any of the above and found them helpful?


  1. Meg, I am one of the few guys who got it. I used several things. I was wondering if you would consider putting a backlink to your site. My blog just started. You can check it out here. http://www.perioraldermatitisnaturaltreatment.com/


  2. Hi Aaron, Thanks for the comment and I'm happy to hear that you cleared your PD so quickly! Do you have any before/after photos? Could you elaborate on why you think violet extract works?

  3. These work:
    calendula oil
    coconut oil

  4. Right now my skin is SO horrid, I cry just thinking about it! My second child is a year old, and this "acne" looks like mine... What products exactly do you use now? How quickly did it clear?

  5. Hi there, I'm so sorry you're suffering. I feel your pain and that picture above is what my skin looked like with almost a one year old baby. I'm currently 33 weeks pregnant and my skin hasn't started to go bonkers like it did my last pregnancy (fingers crossed). I think this is largely due to the gut healing I did the last couple of years.

    How is your gut health? Have you been on any major or prolonged courses of antibiotics? I started noticing a big improvement when I was taking anti fungals (Thorne research sf722) and doing candida cleanses (no sugar or gluten). I did these while still nursing.

    Berberine is a god send for me and healed my gut tremendously so I didn't need to follow such a strict no sugar no gluten diet for longer than 3 or so months. I'm pregnant now so no more berberine, but I drink kefir regularly, take cod liver oil/butter oil, magnesium, dessicated liver, use rosehip oil as my moisturizer and wash my face with a tallow based locally made cleanser. I try to go without make up or cleansing on weekends to give my skin a break.

    I would recommend starting slow with your changes and try and go easy on yourself. See what works for you and build on that. It took me about five-six months to get beautifully clear skin. I maintained that with regular candida cleanses and then got 99 per cent clear within the year by combining berberine with strict no gluten and no refined sugar diet.

    I hope that helps!

  6. My 23 year old daughter has had 6 episodes of similar symptoms in 4 months. Initially diagnosed as impetigo due to crusty, yellow oozing spots around mouth. Do you know if P.O.D. can present as weepy vesicles leading to yellow crusty lips & skin? Treatment has always been an ointment with antibiotic which works but always return a week after completing it. Now wondering if it is not impetigo at all? She is away at college and cannot get an appointment with a dermatologist until June!! So far has been treated at local pharmacy by Nurse Practicioners.

  7. Hi Nan, I'm not sure if perioral dermatitis can manifest itself as something that looks like impetigo. . . I'm also not sure the dermatologist is going to be much more of a help than the nurse practiioner. They'll likely prescribe hydrocortisone cream and antibiotics and call it a day. Has she thought about seeing a naturopath? It may be time to start looking at the gut/health connection and begin treating from within with probiotics/berberine/anti-fungals. My experience with POD/acne is that it isn't something that can be cured topically.

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