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My Experience with Perioral Dermatitis



I have always been very lucky with my skin, while both of my siblings suffered with bad teenage acne, I had a lucky escape and have had pretty clear, problem free skin ever since. Up until very recently, my skin regime was as basic as can be, usually consisting of face wipes and a standard moisturiser, and this was all fine and dandy……..until Perioral Dermatitis came along and ruined everything!


Perioral dermatitis is a common skin rash. Perioral means 'around the mouth' and dermatitis refers to inflammation of the skin. It is triggered by a multitude of things from steroid creams to fluorinated toothpaste but determining the exact cause is very difficult and, here’s the kicker, it’s mostly us women who get it!


I started noticing small, red bumps around my chin and ignored them for a long time, just covering them up with a little extra concealer. After about 6 months, I noticed that my skin was generally a lot redder and more sensitive and those little harmless bumps were getting redder and drier. So I did what everyone does, I self-medicated…big mistake! I went out and bought all sorts of face scrubs, tea tree based ointments and the rest, not realising that all of these things just anger Perioral Dermatitis.


Finally, I gave in and went to see my GP who put me on a course of antibiotics for 3 months (something I wasn’t overly happy about) and prescribed me Azaelic Acid, a topical cream that dries out the skin (a lot!) but does help with the redness. However, I would notice that if I didn’t use the cream for a few days, the bumps would creep back in and I hated the idea of being on antibiotics long term, so I went to see a dermatologist…


My dermatologist told me that all the things I thought I was doing to help my skin were just making it worse and that face wipes, as far as skin care is concerned, are pretty much the devil! She suggested I wash my face with baby shampoo and moisturise with Cetaphil and just keep my regime as basic and as gentle as possible and that one day, the Perioral Dermatitis would go away.


So 6 months later, using the products recommended and doing everything I had been told (but no longer on antibiotics), I was still left with a lovely red chin and had become totally disheartened by the whole situation! I had read countless forums and it seemed that people had tried everything from rubbing apple cider vinegar on their face, to homemade yogurt mask concoctions and others had stuck it out with the antibiotics, all with varying degrees of success. Finally, one forum grabbed my attention, which was all about hormone related Perioral Dermatitis and, as someone who has been on contraception for a long time, it seemed like I might have finally found the answer to my skin woes!


And so, I decided to stop taking the pill and see what happened. 4 months later and my skin has improved dramatically! My chin is still a little red and my face in general is more sensitive than it used to be, but that could just be down to age. The bumps are gone and, for the first time in over a year, I feel comfortable going out without make up on again!


I keep the Azaelic Acid in the cupboard, just in case, but otherwise I can use pretty much all of the products I like now without any problems. I always keep an eye out for things that are focussed towards sensitive skin anyway and even without the PD, I love ingredients like cucumber and aloe, anything soothing has always been a favourite with me. I use the Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser and Moisturising Cream if I feel like I want something super gentle on my skin.


Of course, hormones/contraception may not be the cause of everyone’s PD, but I wanted to share this as it was such a huge relief for me to finally be able to do something about it and, if I have any flare ups now (which does happen from time to time), I know how to deal with it without going for any of the more aggressive solutions.