I look back on my youth with reverence and sadness. I never realized how beautiful my skin was. I would get the monthly period pimple, but my skin was clear, dewy, and vibrant. Youth is wasted on the young.
All of this youthful vitality seemed to change when I hit my thirties. Suddenly, I was losing more of my hair, the hair that remained was drier and graying, and my skin was just…weird. I kept breaking out around my mouth.
As a skincare maker, you can imagine the insufferable irony I felt as I battled to hide my renegade skin. This went on for months. I tried every acne cream on Earth. I bought products from other makers. I tried masks, peels, facials, hydrogen peroxide until I woke up on my 34th birthday to a full nose-to-chin face of crocodile scales. My skin was so inflamed, red with huge bumps that resembled hives, peeling, crusty. Seriously.
I knew it was even worse than what I was seeing when Frank (my husband) volunteered to make a dermatology appointment for me. I was a monster!
My dermatologist was able to squeeze me in and when she saw my face she literally took a step back and said “whoa.” Yeah. Not much of a confidence booster there. (She’s actually great – I love that she’s real.)
Without missing a beat she told me I had perioral dermatitis. I asked her why and she shrugged and said “age? hormones?.” The most unsatisfying answer. I asked her about treatment and she prescribed me a month’s worth of Doxycycline (antibiotics), a morning corticosteroid cream “Desonide Lotion”, and a nighttime cream “Sulfacetamide Sodium Topical Suspension USP 10% Lotion”. Both creams are prescription-only.
As for washing my face, I strictly started using Balance in the morning and Purely Free in the evening. The goal, according to my dermatologist, was to keep my face as clear from any synthetics as possible. She approved of the soaps for my face.
I went in for my one-month follow-up and my face was relatively clear, with some minor redness left behind. She was happy to see the treatment was working, but she requested I continue another month of the antibiotics, and use the night cream both day and night (to wean my face off of the steroid cream). Well, not even a week later and I’m bumpy again, which means I have to call her to see if I can start the steroid cream back on my face.
Dealing with perioral dermatitis is not fun, and clearly, this is not something that’s just going to vanish for me. It’s changed my entire perspective on skincare. Less truly is more.
As a result of dealing with this, and learning how sensitive my skin is becoming, I plan on devoting a lot more products to sensitive skin. I will be crafting more gentle and natural fragrance options in soaps and creams.
I would love to hear from you, especially if you’ve ever suffered perioral dermatitis.