Dealing with Peri-Oral Dermatitis? Read this


Peri-oral dermatis (PD) is a common skin disorder presenting as small red bumps around the mouth and nose. These red bumps are made up of papules and watery pustules that can become quite painful, and the condition can sometimes be confused with acne or the similar condition, rosacea.

PD is more common in females and those with a history of childhood eczema. I also commonly see those with PD will often have other conditions such as gut issues, asthma, hay fever and other allergies in their history too.

The exact cause is unknown, but it is related to our natural skin barrier being impaired and the resulting overactive immune response. I liken the skin barrier function to that of the roof of our homes. It is there to keep our insides protected, and with an impaired barrier our skin is wide open to the wild! Our cells inside our house are not coping without a roof, and are overacting to every perceived threat, causing pain & inflammation!

In winter, our skin barrier is put to the test, with temperature fluctuation and indoor heating further drying out our skin. This is a common time to see dermatis-like conditions pop up! 

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix or cure, but using a topical barrier balm or ointment can be useful, much like putting a ‘tarp’ over a broken roof to reduce further damage! Learning to manage the condition may mean you only experience the rare flare up.

Topical medications like steroids are often prescribed, but their use can lead to rebound flare ups when the medication is stopped. Speak to your Doctor and make sure you follow pharmacists’ instructions if you do go down this path.

A Naturopath may be helpful to work on any gut-related issues and to work on incorporating more essential fatty acids into your diet.

So what can trigger a PD flare up? Oh where to start! There are an array of triggers for every individual, and working out what yours may be can help to manage the condition.

  • Skincare: like cleansers, shampoo, cleansing wipes, toothpastes etc can all contribute to a flare. Some suggest fluoride-free toothpastes are better for those with PD. 
  • Masks: Wearing face masks are essential in many workplaces and can aggravate PD 
  • Makeup: Foundation and especially primers can make the condition worse. Although it is understandable that you may want to cover it with makeup, try your best to limit how often you wear it; and it should be gentle cleansed off as soon as you get home. Apply a barrier balm followed by a small amount of a mineral makeup powder is your best bet 
  • Stress: Flare up’s often occur when your workload or stress levels are too much to bear. Are there any areas in your life needing attention? Can you cut back on anything? Would having a bath at night or a cup of tea in the garden help? Would a meditation app or yoga class help you manage your stress better? Can you be kind to yourself and put yourself first
  • Hormones: PD is common during pregnancy and peri-menopause where the skin begins to dry out more. Some report flareups at certain stages during menstrual cycle. Again a Naturopath may be able to help.

I get how frustrating and lonely it can feel sometimes when dealing with a chronic skin condition... sending much love and healing vibes x

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