Perioral dermatitis is exactly what the name says it is. A skin inflammation around the mouth/nose (typically not around the lip line). Vague, I know. The fact is, each person (almost 90% of cases are women) affected has their own set of triggers, length and severity of flares. In some more extreme cases it can also effect eyes (periocular dermatitis). Currently it is unclear if is it viral, bacterial, fungal or an allergy response. Aren’t I being helpful…
Why self diagnosis is a problem
Many people confuse this red/pink bumpy/lumpy skin *sometimes itchy, oozy, flaky skin as being acne or eczema. It is neither, and using products for these conditions WILL inflame this already reactive skin even more. It’s critically important to get a professional diagnosis from medical or naturopath doctor when dealing with any persistant, inflamed skin reactions.
What causes it?
That’s a darn good question, and there really isn’t a definitive answer. Some people experience triggers from
- Using steroid creams and ointments.
- Makeup and skin care containing irritants such as sun screen, titanium dioxide, talc, parabens, sulfates and fragrance (that’s just a few of the possible triggers)
- Environmental factors such as strong winds and ultraviolet light (yes! including the UV in tanning beds)
- Toothpaste with fluoride and anti-tartar/tartar fighting ingredients
- Mint or cinnamon products/gums/candies
- Hormones (some women find that the rash becomes worse just before a period).
- The oral contraceptive pill has been connected.
You got a diagnosis… now what?
Sorry, you aren’t going to like the answer to this. Stop using anything on your face. I know. Booooooo! That sucks! This is the time to heal your skin and not continue triggering it. Take the time to learn what YOUR triggers are. Try keeping a journal. Wash your face with filtered water (even the chlorine in tap water can be a trigger), NOT soap. Don’t use any products until the flare has calmed. I know when your complexion is not at its best we want a quick fix and cover with some makeup. RESIST THIS. Until you get to know your triggers, simply use nothing or you will find yourself getting deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole if you continue flaring the situation.
Are there natural remedies?
This is a slippery answer too. Many people have had success with these natural remedies, while others find the same ones to be triggers. *sigh. Remember to ALWAYS start will a small test patch before you dive into *possible* solution.
How can it be treated?
Firstly, find and remove the trigger(s). From there the most effective course of treatment is antibiotics. Not much fun as many people need to be on antibiotics for 6 to 12 weeks depending on the persistence of the dermatitis. Cases triggered by hormones and birth control pills seem to be the most persistent.
So, to sum it up? It is unclear what Perioral Dermatitis is or how to effectively treat it. How’s that for a disappointing blog article.
The good news? Taking the time to learn your triggers, choosing to avoid them, following your doctors’ instructions, and simplifying your skin routines to natural products with very few ingredients will offer you an excellent prognosis with little chance of it re-occurrence.