Dealing With Perioral Dermatitis

Dealing With Perioral Dermatitis

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 dermatitisI 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.

Kristen Fusaro-PizzoPresident

2 thoughts on “Dealing With Perioral Dermatitis

  1. I want to share my story because I know how much it sucks to have perioral dermatitis and grasp at straws for a cure, which I believe I finally found. I recently suffered with PD myself and did TONS of research about it. I also saw my dermatologist to confirm my diagnosis and see about getting a food sensitivity test, as I’d read that that could be the underlying cause. I opted not to take antibiotics as all I’ve read seems to indicate it will always return because the underlying cause isn’t addressed. I decided not to do the food sensitivity test as my research later on supported why it would be unnecessary for me in particular.

    Initially I treated my PD as if it were caused by a damaged skin barrier from product overload, because I am a bit of a product junkie. That went absolutely nowhere. Then I opted to try to treat it internally with various things I’d read on the internet, ACV, aloe juice, sulphur 30c. Eventually of the research I did put me on a path that actually made sense to explain the PD and it all comes down to gut health. When the bacteria in your gut gets out of whack it literally affects so much in how you feel and in your skin. The science behind it makes sense, I really recommend to anyone suffering with PD to read up on “leaky gut”, the science behind it, and figure out your own game plan to heal your gut. For me, essentially decreasing my sugar intake, taking loads of good quality probiotics, and eating cleaner has allowed my skin to completely heal in less than a week. It has been such a relief!!!


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