What is Perioral Dermatitis?
Perioral dermatitis is a common inflammatory condition of the skin which results in redness, rash and papule like eruptions. The term "peri" means next to and the word "oral" means the mouth. So, if we break apart the word it means a skin rash that is around the mouth. Perioral dermatitis can also form around the nose & eyes, in which case it’s called periorificial dermatitis.
Because dermatitis is caused by inflammation the treatment prescribed by doctors is often the use of steroids which act as anti-inflammatory agents on the skin. This can work fine for regular dermatitis but can make perioral dermatitis even worse.
Perioral Dermatitis "Triggers"
So why is perioral dermatitis more difficult to treat? We do understand that there are some potential things that tend to "trigger" the condition. And these are very important because if we understand how the disease state is triggered then we can actively try to avoid them.
It has also been suggested that perioral dermatitis results from an imbalance in bacterial concentrations or damage to the acid mantle on the surface of your skin. As this imbalance occurs your body responds with the inflammatory process known as perioral dermatitis.
- Make-up and other cosmetics
- Topical steroids such as hydrocortisone
- Cosmetic procedures such as microdermabrasion
- Environmental exposure
- Misusing chemical and physical exfoliators
- Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate in hair care, laundry detergent, and toothpaste
- Fluoride in toothpaste
- Topical application of high Percentages of essential Oils
- Heavy creams and facial oils
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Trauma or scarring to the face
- Oral antibiotic use
The reason this is so important is because it's VERY tempting to use skin products such as steroids because they can temporarily reduce the symptoms of perioral dermatitis, but you have to consider that often steroids make the problem worse.
What you should do when you have a PD flare up:
#1. STOP putting cosmetics on your face
The #1 most important part of treating perioral dermatitis is to stop using pretty much ANYTHING on your face that isn't necessary. This includes make-up, topical steroids and other cosmetics that you may use.
Even moisturizers may contain chemicals or other ingredients that can flare up your symptoms. I know it's tempting to want to put something on it, but this is really a condition where less is more. The best thing you can do for your face is let it heal naturally and over time
#2 Use water-only to cleanse your skin
Your skin barrier is in damage control, so you want to avoid unnecessarily stripping the skins natural pH any further. Use clean hands to cleanse only, avoid any use of wipes or surfaces that may cause extra irritation. Also, be careful of the advice you see on the internet about using apple cider vinegar. This is far too acidic & will make your flare up worse.
#3. AMPERNA®'S Topical probiotic skincare
Another way to treat perioral dermatitis is to use topical probiotic skincare. Your skin is a HUGE organ (in fact the largest on your body) and it has a bacterial ecosystem just like your gut.
One of the triggers of perioral dermatitis is a change in bacterial skin concentrations and damage to the acid mantle. You can fight this process by directly applying probiotics right to your skin.
The hero ingredient of AMPERNA® skincare is our active probiotic complex, Lactococcus ferment lysate. Developed in conjunction with one of Australia’s most experienced skincare chemists, AMPERNA® is the first Australian brand to bring you a full range of probiotic skincare products, and the first to use this particular strain in any Australian skincare product.
#4. AVOID Extra exfoliating procedures
Another thing that you will want to COMPLETELY avoid is the use of any cosmetic procedures which may cause extra damage to your skin. Procedures that fit into this category include microdermabrasion, chemical peels, laser therapy and so on.
The way that these therapies work is by damaging the skin and initiating the healing response which rejuvenates the skin and helps reverse the aging process. This is great if your skin is currently healthy, but it can make perioral dermatitis WORSE because it falls into the "trauma" category. So, during the healing stage make sure that you avoid the use of any cosmetic procedure such as these.
#5. Stop using steroid cream
The Australian College of Dermatologists recommend stopping the use of steroid creams if they are the suspected trigger. You’re likely to see a rebound or flare-up of perioral dermatitis after you stop using the cream but don’t be tempted to start using it again!
#6 Audit your personal care products
Remove all sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate from your home. This includes shampoo, toothpaste, laundry detergent, and hand soap or body wash. You’ll have to read every label because even natural brands can use SLS.
How long before it goes away?
When treating perioral dermatitis, you need to set your expectations up early and part of this has to do with how long you need to undergo treatment and how patient you need to be. It's worth noting that treating perioral dermatitis is like a marathon not a sprint.
This means that you need to have patience and you need to stick to your regimen and trust in the process. There really aren't any quick tricks that you can take advantage of to get rid of your dermatitis in just a few short days.
Other tips for treating Perioral Dermatitis
In addition to the tips listed above you will also want to follow a couple of other guidelines which may help you get on the right track.
The first is your diet
Remember that perioral dermatitis may be triggered by things that are going on inside of your body as well as those on the outside. Because of this you should take all reasonable steps to improve what you put into your body to help the healing process. This includes your diet! During the healing process I recommend that you focus on eating an anti-inflammatory diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and cut back on the sugar. All of these will help improve your gut function and reduce inflammation in your body.
The second is water intake
Next you need to be sure that you are staying adequately hydrated! Hydration helps improve the quality and texture of your skin and helps you eliminate toxins. Remember your body only has 4 ways to eliminate toxins: urination, stool, breath and sweat. You want to make sure that you maximise all of these! Focus on drinking at least 2-3 litres per day.
The third is sun exposure
Last on the list is sun exposure and this may be another big one. During the healing process it's probably safer to avoid the sun as much as possible to avoid any extra damage to your skin. In some skin diseases (such as psoriasis) sun exposure may be therapeutic, but there isn't enough information to say whether it's helpful in perioral dermatitis. Because of this it's probably safer to simply avoid direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time to your face. If you simply avoid the sun you can then also avoid the use of daily sunscreen which may just irritate your skin as well.