Saving Face: Perioral Dermatitis

We get a lot of skincare questions about skincare for perioral dermatitis sent to us at Beauty Heroes, sometimes accompanied with pictures and pleas for help. We always respond with product recommendations, and often a warning; skin conditions are rarely solved by just putting something ON your skin. Diet, hormones and lifestyle often underlie the most common skin concerns. In my personal experience, chronic skin conditions complex and triggered by a combination of factors. I battled cystic acne for 20 years and tried putting anything and everything on my skin to treat it before I discovered a major hormone imbalance, that once addressed, resolved my acne for good. Lately, we have been receiving questions about a skin condition that looks like a cross between eczema and acne around the mouth called Perioral Dermatitis.

The severity of Perioral Dermatitis (also known as PD) can be mild to severe with red, itchy, flaky and inflamed skin around the mouth and nose. I have not been affected by it myself, but my friend Dr. Sarah Villafranco, Founder of Osmia, has. She is in a unique position of being having experienced it first hand, is a master holistic skincare formulator and a Doctor, and she has taught me a lot about this condition. The request for products that can be used by those experiencing PD, we created a whole category of Skincare for Perioral Dermatitis in our Beauty Store. But, as I mentioned, skincare for PD is not the only solution, my recommendation is to approach perioral dermatitis holistically. Before we look at skincare for perioral dermatitis, let’s cover some of the facts.

Fast Facts about Perioral Dermatitis

Who does Perioral Dermatitis Affect?

Most frequently Perioral Dermatitis affects women, ages 20-45, although it has been diagnosed in rare instances in children and the elderly.

What causes Perioral Dermatitis?

According to Dr. Sarah Villafranco “There are many theories about the cause of Perioral Dermatitis, none of which are definitive.” One of the known causes is the use of steroid creams on the face or around the mouth, so stay away from those. Also, certain surfactants may be contributing to the onset of perioral dermatitis. While there are many theories, based on the population most affected (women between 20-45) Perioral Dermatitis could very well be linked to hormone fluctuations.

How can I treat it?

  • Try looking at the ingredient lists on the back of your products and seeing if it has eliminating sodium laureth sulfate, a common lathering ingredient in facial cleansers, toothpaste and hair care, as a first step.
  • We also recommend staying away from products or foods that contain cinnamon, as it can aggravate perioral dermatitis.
  • When it comes to skincare, Perioral Dermatitis likes to keep it light, with mostly water and light cream products, less is better (you know I love that). In general, you want to avoid lots of oils and heavy moisturizers on skin inflamed with Perioral Dermatitis, so you won’t find any oil-based products in this category in our beauty store, except for Osmia’s Nectar, which Sarah has said has worked fine for her skin.
  • And last, don’t scrub or exfoliate the area if you have Perioral Dermatitis.

Above all – do less.  And, for your own sanity, keep track of the things you do, and try to think of them as pieces of a management strategy for PD, rather than looking for one “miracle cure”.
Now, let’s get to our Hero product suggestions. These are some of the top skincare products for perioral dermatitis our community has had success with to help manage their PD:

Osmia Black Clay Facial Soap

This Hero product is a classic for managing PD. It’s moisturizing, soothing and balancing at once. It’s our first line of defense whenever someone comes to us with PD.

Doctor Rogers Restore Cleanser

If a cleansing bar is not your thing, Doctor Rogers ultra-mild Restore Cleanser is a great option. It’s non-drying, but foams up with a non-irritating surfactant for a satisfying cleanse.

Pai Middlemist Seven Cream Cleanser

If you want more of an experience when you wash your face, Pai’s Middlemist Seven is a gentle, creamy cleanser that still works on skin suffering from PD.

Josh Rosebrook Hydration Boost Concentrate

Josh Rosebrook’s Hydration Boost Concentrate is an essential-oil free, super hydrating serum that you can use in place of a mist on toner. Skin needs a lot of hydration, and just 2-3 drops of this hydration booster does the trick, and at a very nice price.

Honua Aloha Youth Serum

This beautiful serum is a light moisturizer with organic botanicals that can be very comforting to inflamed skin. It’s a wonderful all-around serum to use morning and evening, and it smells amazing.

Pai Instant Kalmer Sea Aster + Schisandra Serum

This mild serum calms with sea aster and adaptogenic schisandra berry for a beautiful product to instantly calm the feeling of delicate PD skin.

Earthwise Beauty’s Imhotep’s Balsam Face Mask

This treatment mask delivers powerful soothing with alaea salt, marshmallow root, chamomile flowers, comfrey and nourishing chickweed. We recommend mixing this treatment with water or manuka honey and applying it to the whole face, not just the area affected by PD once to twice per week.

Fitglow Redness Rescue Cream

This cream brings together sea extracts and three botanicals; calendula, chamomile and comfrey and calming minerals of zinc, titanium oxide and silica for a powerful redness reducing, comforting cream that’s suited to all types of inflamed skin.

Davids Toothpaste

These sulfate-free toothpastes are suitable for those experiencing PD. Choose from the Peppermint, Charcoal + Peppermint or Spearmint Blends. The Herbal Spice blend is contraindicated for PD because of the cayenne and other herbs in the ingredient list.

If you do see an allopathic doctor, don’t be surprised if you’re prescribed topical antibiotics to treat Perioral Dermatitis. This is the go-to treatment for most Western doctors. If you choose this path, we encourage you to balance out the effects that antibiotics can have on the system by integrating diet and lifestyle changes to support the healing process.

A few suggestions include:

  • Take a probiotic supplement
  • Avoid heavy creams and oils
  • Resist the temptation to exfoliate! It will only exacerbate the problem.
  • During this healing time, results will be more immediate if you also avoid sugar, caffeine or other stimulants. Remember, Perioral Dermatitis is a result of inflammation, so it’s
  • best to choose foods and behaviors that have a soothing, calming effect.
  • And finally, practice patience.