Tips, Treatment and the Best Products for
Dermatitis on the Face
UPDATE: My acne and perioral dermatitis journey inspired me to create my own range of Active Probiotic Skincare called AMPERNA®. Perioral Dermatitis can be tough! I believe in a holistic approach to skin wellness; these principles inspired my own brand!
In The Link Between Diet and Skin Health I mentioned I had a condition called perioral dermatitis. In the following blog post I will discuss the various products that helped me cure my condition, valuable tips that helped me win the battle over my scaly patches, and the order I do things in the bathroom (YES REALLY)...
What is Perioral Dermatits?
Perioral Dermatitis is pretty common amongst females ages 15-45 years. It is characterised by groups of itchy or tender small red papules around your mouth, nose and eyes and it often gets wrongly diagnosed. When I went to see various doctors, before seeing a dermatologist, they suggested pimples, rosacea, eczema, a rash, and psoriasis. Luckily I only had it around my chin, because people often have it around the eyes and nose as well. Perioral Dermatitis is pretty stubborn and I have learnt lots of tricks to deal with it. I won't lie though. It is not going to go away overnight.
Now here come some gross pictures. Check out the photo on the left below. This is when my face was quite bad - it was really hot and hurt quite a bit to wash it. Then on the right below is when I was a bit better but had a bit of a flare up.
What aggravates Dermatitis of the Face?
Perioral Dermatitis is a frustrating skin condition that is often treatment resistant and recurs when treatment stops. The list of things to avoid while you have this annoying condition includes certain products, certain foods and stress. Perioral Dermatitis can be a vicious skin disorder because you get so worried you will wake up to another red bump that you stress and end up causing more little bumps to appear...
Firstly a lot of products people use include SLS and SLES and this aggravates Perioral Dermatitis. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate are anionic detergents found in many personal care products. SLES and SLES are inexpensive and very effective foaming agents. They appear mostly in shampoo, toothpaste, some facial soaps and body washes.
Secondly fluoride often aggravates Perioral Dermatitis as well. Steer clear of toothpastes that include fluoride and those fluoride treatments that you get at the dentist. This may cause alarm bells to ring for some people as it is widely thought that you need fluoride to avoid bad teeth and cavities. Fluoride is actually a poison in high levels. In Australia, our water is dosed with fluoride and that is more than enough to help maintain healthy teeth. I have spoken to my dentist about cleaning your teeth with fluoride because I was worried when I first started using a natural toothpaste as well. He explained that as long as you clean your teeth, the manual process twice a day with a product that is abrasive, is more than enough. The high level of fluoride you get dosed with in a dentist office treatment set my Perioral Dermatitis off so I avoid it now.
I don't use much makeup and it is best to avoid using too much when you have an outbreak of pimples, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and Perioral Dermatitis anyway. It is often best to let the skin breathe. Many people with sensitive skin and Perioral Dermatitis outbreaks use mineral makeup or natural alternatives. I only use concealer around the eyes, lip balm & mascara and normally only wear foundation when I am going out. So far I haven't had any issues with using makeup when my Perioral Dermatitis outbreaks are at bay. However it is suggested that a foundation with zinc in it might help.
Unfortunately, it is best to experiment with what works best for you where skincare is concerned. Often thick creams, serums, cleansers and some lip balms aggravate Perioral Dermatitis. Castor oil and coconut oil are two things to avoid when you are having an outbreak (I can't use them anyway). And with everything, it is always best to patch test a new product on the inside of your arm for two days before using them for the first time.
My Tips and Tricks to Keep Perioral Dermatitis At Bay!
So what are the best products for perioral dermatitis? What are some perioral dermatitis over the counter treatments? What do I avoid? And how can you use diet to help your pimples, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and Perioral Dermatitis go away?
There are two ways to deal with Perioral Dermatitis. First you have to treat it when it first appears and then there are things you can do to make sure you keep on top of it so it doesn't reappear.
As you can see from the photo on the left above, my face was pretty red and raw. I was embarrassed to go outside and I just wanted it gone. I am not afraid to say that I went on antibiotics to get rid of it. I couldn't sleep properly and it was affecting the way I felt about myself. I was depressed. I was given a course of tetracycline called E-mycin and Elidel cream and was told that I may need a couple of months of treatment and even then it may come back. Boy were they right. The E-mycin and Elidel cream worked really quickly, however you have to stick to the antibiotics for the full course to make sure you have killed the bacteria properly. As you can see in the photo on the right above, my face is a whole heap better but I would continue to get flare ups every so now and again.
This is where avoiding certain products, keeping up the exercise, eating right and making sure you follow an ordered skin care routine helps.
Firstly, I use natural shampoo and conditioner with no nasties in them. I avoid SLS and SLES in all my products and I use a natural toothpaste that doesn't include fluoride. I don't scrub any part of me at all either. This comes from my sensitive skin but manual exfoliation aggravates pimples, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and Perioral Dermatitis too. I use a basic cleanser with no nasties in it that washes off properly and I don't cover my skin in anything too thick. I use sorbelene cream or a light moisturiser so I don't clog my skin. I avoid coconut oil on my skin but the Burt's Bees Lip Balm in the photo above is fine strangely enough. I use that one heaps. I find stick lip balms & lipsticks better and natural products are best on my lips. Makeup isn't an issue because I don't wear it often, but I avoid putting it on when I have spots on my chin.
Another tip is to exfoliate regularly. You need to sloth off dead skin in order to keep the area your Perioral Dermatitis has been healthy. Chemical exfoliation is best and I swear by glycolic lotion all over my face in the evening. DON'T GET ME WRONG, I don't apply glycolic as a spot treatment to the Perioral Dermatitis. I use glycolic lotion every night to keep my skin cells turning over so my skin is healthy. If I do have an outbreak, I am not scared to use a little bit of Elidel cream once in a while. But it is better to keep the situation under control rather than treat it.
Another handy tip is to use a pro-desquamating cream like La Roche-Pasay's Kerium DS Creme. It has zinc in it to sooth the flared area and when I feel like I am a bit clogged up it seems to help to force cell turnover. That is what desquamating is, exfoliation.
Keep up the exercise so that your skin sweats, this also helps with your mood and stress levels so your skin stays looking its best.
As I mentioned in The Link Between Diet and Skin Health diet is important and it is helpful where Perioral Dermatitis is concerned too. Firstly I avoid coffee. Secondly, when I am using Elidel, I can't drink alcohol at all because my face gets all red and hot where I have applied it. If I want to drink alcohol (in moderation) I drink clean spirits like vodka or gin. The less additives the better. You can head over to The Link Between Diet and Skin Health to find out more about what I do. Basically I stick to an anti-inflammatory diet to help keep my Perioral Dermatitis in line. Oh! Did I mention drinking LOTS of water???
Now this section is really important and something not many people know about when treating all sorts of skin conditions.
The order and the way you do things in the bathroom often helps many skin concerns.
First. I learnt when I had acne, that washing your hair upside down in the shower means that no product gets on your back and you are less likely to get acne there. The same principle can be used for Perioral Dermatitis. Wash your hair upside down so you don't get product running down your face. ALSO wash your hair before you do anything else. That way if you do get product on your face or body you can wash it off.
Secondly. Brush your teeth before you wash your face. Little splatters of toothpaste can land on your face and aggravate your Perioral Dermatitis. I avoid chilli in my food, but I would wash my face after I ate anything strong that you were worried about. I also tend to eat breakfast before I get in the shower too.
Hopefully I have covered everything! I have learnt so much over the course of having skin issues!!