how i got rid of perioral dermatitis

perioral dermatitis solution

How my perioral dermatitis developed and what products I used to clear it up

My first ever bout with perioral dermatitis happened a few weeks ago while I was enjoying Japanese buffet with my husband and another married couple.

As I stood in line to get starters, the lower right corner of my mouth started to itch. I thought nothing of it and scratched the area a bit. A few minutes later I asked Carlo if there was a rash on that part of my face. He said there was something but it wasn't noticeable. The itch was on and off up until we got home and it felt like there was a scaly rash that kept getting bigger. The following morning these little bumps showed up around my lip line and it was itchy as heck. I decided to leave it alone to see if it would subside the following day.

It didn't. 

I applied EOS to try and soothe my lips, which, by this 3rd day were surrounded with pustules! They looked like pimples on steroids. It looked and felt horrible. My mouth was dry, inflamed, and ridiculously uncomfortable. The EOS seemed to help so I kept putting it on until I noticed that it just dried up my lips more.

I finally decided to Google what's going on. I try to avoid doing this because I always freak myself out whenever I self-diagnose. But in this case, my relentless Google searching and WebMD-ing paid off and I discovered that I potentially had perioral dermatitis. According to WebMD, it's not clear what causes it although different people have listed topical steroids, stress, certain food allergies, and other ingredients such as fluoride, sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) as triggers. Others have had to take antibiotics to keep it in control. I took comfort in the fact that it was quite a common condition.

A couple more days passed and my lips were drier than ever, until it became painful to open my mouth.


I could only think of fluoride in toothpaste and SLS in my shampoo as the triggers until I found a lead regarding the culprit (more on that later). I stopped using toothpaste with fluoride and switched to shea butter shampoo (paraben- and SLS-free). For some PD sufferers, using clotrimazole (an antifungal cream) worked wonders. I wanted to avoid antibiotics because they kill not only the bad bacteria, but also the good ones in your gut. I also had a hunch that it wasn't viral. I had high hopes with the clotrimazole so I bought a small tube, applied according to instructions, and waited.

Nothing happened.

Carlo advised me to tell his mom, so I did and she told me to stop using the cream since it might not even be fungal. GOD BLESS ALL THE MOTHERS ON EARTH--she was right. She gave me this:

and this:

The Dr. Schwab lip balm (which has primrose oil) is from my MIL. I bought the Vaseline for daily use.
I immediately used calamine lotion twice a day and regularly applied Dr. Schwab's lip rescue therapy. My MIL actually gave me Caladryl but I gave her bottle back 'cause I saw that we had the CVS one in our medicine cabinet. Both worked fine and greatly relieved the itch and inflammation. I switched to African black soap for cleansing. I used to wash my face twice a day,but now I just use water in the morning and cleanse at night. The soap was made for acne-prone skin so it also calms redness. For moisture, I switched to Cetaphil to keep things light.
Yay for light moisturizers! I'm still looking for natural alternatives, though. As for the soap, I sliced it up and only use a smaller block at a time make it last longer.

The area started to heal, scab, and flake after 2 days. The whole ordeal took about 9 or 10 days before it finally cleared up. It was one of the longest, most self-conscious, and most frustrating 10 days of my life. These products helped save my skin.


Before we went to the Japanese dinner that night, I put on lip balm--the flavor I'd been using for less than a month at the time was Sweet Mint. That was the last thing I remember putting on. I didn't use makeup.

On a whim, I researched if EOS had allergens that I might have reacted to. I have never taken an allergy test so the only allergens I know, I discovered the hard way. For instance, I found out I was allergic to ibuprofen when I took one for PMS and ended up looking like Hitch when his face got all swollen.

That wasn't fun.

Going back to EOS, sure enough, one lady sued the company earlier this year when she developed rashes and blisters after using the Summer Fruit lip balm. However, EOS ingredients seem innocuous enough so I'm not sure if I reacted to one of them or not. I just made the connection and to be safe, decided to ditch the lip balm anyway. There's a myriad factors that could have triggered my PD but for now, I'm doing my best to stick to a skin care routine and avoid stress. Symptoms have not reoccurred to this day and I hope it stays that way.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. If you're experiencing symptoms similar to what I had, you may or may not have perioral dermatitis. Consult your dermatologist if your symptoms persist. I'm only sharing what worked and didn't work for my condition. Also, this is not a sponsored post.

Here are links to products that I used and still use, except for the calamine lotion:

Vaseline Lip Therapy (I think I still prefer the ones in the tub, but it's kind of gross to keep dipping your fingers in there)

Have you ever experienced perioral dermatitis? What did you to get rid of it?

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