Saturday, October 1, 2016

Perioral Dermatitis: An Update, Plus Tips & Tricks!

Since I wrote my original post about perioral dermatitis treatment, I've received hundreds of comments, emails and messages from all over the world about how the solution I found--Clotrimazole 1% topical cream--has helped other people, too. A lot of other people.

(I've always dreamed of using my writing to help people. I never thought this would be the way it ended up happening, but hey...I'll take it!)

I decided to write this follow-up post to Perioral Dermatitis Treatment: My Story and provide everyone with an update on my condition, plus some tips and tricks for clear, healthy skin I've picked up along the way.

Did it come back? 

I do have occasional flare-ups of perioral dermatitis. Any number of factors can trigger them: stress, hormones, diet, lack of sleep. I've learned that the better care I take of myself, the less likely I am to have a flare. But hey, life can get crazy, and that's not always possible!

When I get a flare, it's about 5% as bad as the original case of perioral dermatits was for me--mostly just some redness and a few bumps under one side of my nose. The same treatment I discovered originally, my (absolutely lifesaving) Clotrimazole 1% still clears it right up within two to three days. I also sometimes use a small amount both morning and evening as a preventative.

But in addition to that, because I hate perioral dermatitis (even at 5%!) so, so much, I continue to actively seek solutions to help keep my skin in check and reduce the flare-ups as much as I can. Here's what's been working:

Moisturize & Cleanse

In my quest to find natural treatment options for both my perioral dermatitis and my combination skin in general, I no longer use conventional moisturizers. It was definitely a leap of faith to use straight oil on my face after a lifetime of being told never to do that, but I'm so glad I finally gave it a try. My skin has never looked better, and I'm pretty sure I'm never going back! In the mornings, I use organic, cold-pressed jojoba oil mixed with aloe vera gel in after I wash my face. In the evening, I use a blend of equal parts jojoba, hemp seed and rose hip oil (mixed myself from the products listed below.)

Teddie Organics Rosehip Oil
Leven Rose Organic Jojoba Oil
Renewalize 100% Hemp Seed Oil
Earth's Daughter Aloe Vera Gel

In addition, I've started washing my face with a sulfur soap and using sulfur ointment as needed. Before the invention of corticosteroids, sulfur was the go-to treatment for perioral dermatitis. It dropped out of fashion in the '70s, but some doctors are returning to this treatment plan. It didn't work by itself when I originally used it for my PO, but for daily maintenance, I find that it keeps my skin clear and bright, and makes a noticeable difference in the lingering redness around my nose that my PO seems to have left behind. My pores appear noticeably smaller when I'm using the sulfur soap regularly. I use the sulfur ointment as a spot treatment for flare-ups (use as directed and remember, a little goes a long way!)

Branfells Labs Sulfur Soap
Branfells Labs Sulfur Ointment

Vitamins & Supplements

After a terrible, seemingly endless round of chronic ideopathic urticaria last year (I know, I know, I'm a medical disaster sometimes...but that's a whole different post) I started experimenting with supplements for my skin and overall health. I currently take a multivitamin, evening primrose oil capsules, a probiotic, and vitamin D and omega-3 supplements. I've seen measurable improvements in skin since I've started taking these: fewer breakouts and smoother overall skin tone. My favorites:

Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
Barlean's Organic Evening Primrose Oil
Naturewise Vitamin D3
Align Probiotic

Diet & Exercise

When I eat better, my skin looks better. I still love Oreos and ramen noodles and pizza (and and and) but after successfully completely my first Whole 30 earlier this year, I'm committed to healthier eating 80% of the time and I can feel a difference in my whole body inside and out, skin included. I highly recommend giving it a try at some point! I'm also a (fifteen years strong!) devotee to hot yoga, which has dramatically changed my physical, mental and emotional health :)

For more information on Whole 30 living, check out:

The Whole 30: 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom


Since I've yet to find a 100% guarantee that this nasty condition will ever go away for good, finding makeup that gives me my confidence back has been a lifesaver. This product has been an absolute lifesaver!

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness Neutralizing Correcting Cream
(applied with the It Cosmetics Pointed Precision Brush, which is also awesome)

(AND, as a PSA, because I'm finishing a novel and getting up at 4:00AM every day to do it so really know my concealers at this point, the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Concealer is also pretty much a miracle product)

So that's my update! Thank you to everyone who has written to say my original post helped them. It means so much to me, and I hope people struggling with the frustrating reality of perioral dermatitis continue to find helpful answers here and elsewhere on the internet. Cheers!

Disclaimer: The links that appear here are affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you place an order through Amazon for the products I mention (at no cost to you.) Thanks for your understanding and support!


  1. Thanks for all this! BTW, the link to the correcting cream does not work--it goes to a probiotic.

  2. This is amazing.. my aunt suffers I will have to send her your link x

  3. Does it seem normal that skin might start to mildly dry out and small bumps raise to the surface & break open when 1st using this? I just started it yesterday & I'm trying to figure out if this is one of those "gets worse before it gets better" things??? UNFORTUNATELY, most of what I read in the comments here indicates that isn't the case with others. They all saw immediate improvement. :-( I will keep using it for a week to give it a fair chance. It's just so fun looking like a 14 year old pubescent when I'm 39!

  4. your blog has given me such hope! i just bought some clotrimazole last night and am feeling positive for the first time in a while again. in your opinion, is it ok to moisturize with some oil while using the clotrimazole during an acute flare or is it best to keep it dry?

  5. i second the person above me! I FINALLY feel better! thank you SO SO much. I will keep checking out your blog. :)

  6. how do you apply your aloe vera & the oils you use in AM and PM?

  7. I am so encouraged by this solution. FYI, my dermatologist unwaveringly attributes this to fluoride allergy. I researched this out and discovered that fluoride contamination is on and in just about everything. Coffee, if not organic is loaded with it, as is wine. It is sprayed on our food and all over packaging as it is used in warehouses as bug control. I found out about coffee because I started drinking it again and got the PD again. Organic everything is now my philosophy.

  8. I am so happy to have found this post! I have been suffering on and off from PD for the past 7 years. usually it goes away on its own, but this last flare has been hanging around for months. I tried everything, gluten free, alcohol free, sugar free, soy free, grain free, using apple cider vinegar, and finally went to my MD. She prescribed doxycycline and metrogel. I was so hopeful. Well one dose of the doxy gave me hives all over my face, neck and chest, so that is out... And the metrogel seems to be irritating it and making it more red. I decided to give it some time, thinking I just needed to get used to it... Well after reading this it is going right in the trash and I am getting some Lotrimin on the way home! I use charcoal soap and Beauty Counter balancing oil on my face, I will have to check the ingredients. But I also plan on switching to sulfate free shampoo and fluoride free toothpaste. I know I could eat better, but I was actually in the middle of a Whole 30 when the flare started... So I am not 100% sold on that as a permanent lifestyle. I am leaning towards more clean eating than such a restrictive diet.
    Anyway.... Thanks so much for your post!!!

  9. I hate PD!!! Recently I was diagnosed because of using the steroid cream that my dermatoligist prescribed. When I went back, he wanted to put me on strong antibiotics that he said may or may not work. Instead I went to my dr who said it most likely had to do with my gut. She suggested I get acupuncture for stress management and make some dietary changes, which I did. Long story short, my acupuncturist tested my blood under a microscope and found a ton of fungus in it, which is apparently quite common. Gross!! She suggested I take capryllic acid which is a natural, strong antifungal derived from coconuts. That, coupled with the lotrimin and dietary changes, has cleared my skin!! It makes sense that if we rid ourselves of the fungus/yeast on the inside, it will reflect on the outside. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It put me on the path to recovery :)

  10. I found a pretty simple regimen that TOTALLY WORKS for my perioral dermatitis. I use Chlorhexidine gluconate 2% or 4% solution (the 4% is aka Hibiclens) as a face wash twice a day. In the morning, I use the solution then apply a light weight moisturizer, then apply my Neutrogena pure & free liquid sunscreen, wait about 10 minutes then do my makeup. In the evening I wash my face with the solution, then apply a light layer of olive oil, wait about 20 minutes, then apply my Retin A.

    I can sometimes skip a few days, but then to treat it quickly I will add in azaleic acid to my routine for a day or two and it'll be gone in no time. Also, just as an FYI, I found out early on in my battle with PD that Benadryl takes quite a bit of the redness away within a couple of hours; I'd take 50 mg a few hours before date night and it did wonders. Just make sure it doesn't make you drowsy or use caffeine to counter the effects.

    I've never taken oral antibiotics, because of a medical condition that prevents me from doing so; and this is the routine that has been a life saver.

  11. Thank you so much for this! I have had perioral dermatitis for 7 years. It's gotten a lot better, but I'm like you - even the 5% drives me crazy. I've found stress, dairy and almonds seem to trigger mine. I also think a zinc supplement has helped mine heal.

  12. Thank you for all these amazing tips. I am struggling with my first PO flare up and its so painful. burning, itching... I just applied the Clotrimazole cream and some coconut oil over it because my skin feels so tight. Do you still use coconut oil or just the new oil combo listed above? do you still use the Dr. Jart BB cream? I just ordered that as with my fair complexion sunscreen is a must.

  13. Thank you so much for these amazing tips. I am battling through my first PO flare up and its so incredibly painful. Burning, itching, red and inflamed. I just applied the clotrimazole cream and some coconut oil on top since the skin feels so tight. Do you still use coconut oil or just the oil combo listed above? Do you still use the Dr. Jart BB cream with spf? With my fair skin sunscreen is a must. Thanks!

  14. google latex-fruit syndrome. after a year of trying everything under the sun, it turned out to be this for me.

    as simple as stopping eating bananas and problem solved. can’t believe it.

    over the counter anti-fungal cream helps calm down the skin outbreak in the meantime.

    hope this helps someone!

  15. I have never had any skin issues until last August. I just turned 50. I have been battling this for several months with much frustration. During that time my GP and I did not know what type of condition it was. Just in the past week I was able to see a Dermatologist that diagnosed it. Thanks for the blog and input from all.

  16. So I just got my first flare-up of POD about 3 weeks ago. I thought it was bad acne (I've had adult acne for about 6 years) so I treated it with acne cream which made it angry. Then I thought it was an allergy rash so I treated it with hydrocortisone which made it go away for a day before it came back with a vengeance. I switched to a topical prescription antibiotic which did nothing. After a bunch of panicked research, I got some violet extract and calendula cream which kept the redness away, but left me with very bumpy skin still. Also it was starting to spread which scared me. I finally ordered the Clotrimazole cream you linked here and got it yesterday. I fully expected it not to work since nothing else really did, so I just put it on one newer patch of bumps and used my violet extract and calendula cream on the rest. I woke up to the test patch of probably 6-7 bigger bumps being just 2 bumps and some red skin where the old bumps were! The rest of the POD is actually starting to go away as well, so I can't fully say it was the Clotrimazole, but it definitely sped up the process! I do think I found that Sodium Lauryl Sulfate was the cause of mine. I switched to a new shampoo after only using SLS free products for about 5 years. About a week after I started using it I got this rash. I had also switched toothpastes at the same time so I blamed that at first, but even when I switched to a fluoride-free brand nothing changed. I finally stopped using the shampoo about a week ago and the rash is slowly clearing up. I am so glad that I found your blog! Even though it is just skin, I hated the idea of feeling like I can't do anything to clear it up. You definitely gave me hope that I would find what works. Hopefully it keeps working!

  17. I've been dealing with perioral dermatitis for a couple months now. I tried a few methods that helped, but didn't clear it. I finally ordered the clotrimazole cream off Amazon and it worked, but then it didn't. So finally I ordered the soap and the probiotics you listed and I think it is all clearing up! I also started putting a thicker layer of the clotrimazole cream on every night and that gave me much better results. I'm down to no bumps and just some red skin that goes away with lavender extract. I'm planning to keep using the cream for another week just to make sure it is really gone, but I think I finally found something that works! As a bonus, the sulfur soap and the lavender extract work great on acne as well! Thank you so much!

  18. Thanks so much for sharing your story and wisdom. This was driving me nuts until I came upon your site a few months ago. I had to use Lotrimin for nearly a month to clear it up, and I have residual redness but at least the skin is smooth. From another source, I started using African Black soap on my face, which helps too. I am using your regimen with great success, including the It Cosmetic products, which are wonderful. I hope I can be such a source of information, experience and encouragement some day. Thanks again!

  19. Oh, I've also added a drop or two Young Living's Sacred Frankincense to the morning moisturizer and a drop of Manuka oil to my make-up brushes - both are great for skin (but watch around the eyes) :)

  20. After having my baby 9 months ago, I had alot of joint pain. My Dr said it most likely is an auto immune disorder brought on by child birth! I never was tested though because I wanted to figure it out first ( diet, losee weight to see if it went away) but now I have POD ( self diagnosed of course) it just won't go away. It did for about 4 days after it sticking around for months, but now it's back on both sides of my mouth and chin, around my nose and one eye! It's awful I want to hide under a rock! Any who, as I was feeding my baby I remembered his Dr telling me to get vagisil for his neck, when it gets all red, weepy, and smelly (because of drool, milk and sweat) so I thought hey would it help this! I typed it in and it brought me here!!! Thank the Lord, I'm going to get what you used tomorrow morning!! This flare up I'm having now is no joke!! Thanks you so much! ₩

  21. I waited to add a comment here because I wanted to make sure this stuff really works. It took a little longer for me and in full disclosure, two months on and i'm still dabbing on the smallest amount of Clotrimazole twice a day to the stubborn almost invisible bumps just under the corners of my mouth. But it definitely works—I went to my dermatologist to confirm it—and it's not just any antifungal (I tried three others, including two prescriptions). Only Clotrimazole worked for me. Here's my full story, in case it helps.... I starting noticing a few stubborn "zits" under near the left side of my mouth almost a year ago. Around the same time I saw a dermatologist for the strange patches of dry skin on my right cheeks that I'd been trying to fight off with thick moisturizers and steroid cream. (I know, classic.) The doctor told me I had eczema and gave me Elidel, which "cured" the patches and—yay!—the bumps. Except that it didn't. The bumps would go away for a week, then return. I'd apply more Elidel and they'd go away for a week, then return. Etc, etc. A few months went by and I finally self-diagnosed perioral dermatitis. My doctor gave me antibiotics (doxyclycline). Nothing. She doubled my dose. Nothing, plus stomach pains every time I ate. Fun! Then I found this blog (actually, refound—I'd read it earlier, but dismissed it) and was, like most posters here, desperate enough to put foot cream on my face. It worked instantly, then peeled horribly (I mean, didn't leave the house for 5 days horribly) and then, and then....bumps came back. I told my doctor—who, after prescribing all those antibiotics, didn't seem at all surprised that my PD was fungal (?)—and she prescribed two different antifungal creams (Ketoconazole and Ciclopirox), neither of which worked at all. The bumps came back instantly. So went back to Clotrimazole and I've been using it for about two months now. The bumps are almost invisible but they won't completely go away. I'll keep applying the lightest possible amount until they do. In the meantime, I've educated myself about eczema. Elidel is still my saviour when things get really bad. I don't think my skin will ever be normal again but there are far more good days than bad days now and I'm grateful for that.

    1. Did yours get cured eventually? I am currently going through this and have been using clotrimazole for 8 weeks. I stopped using it and it came back, so started applying very sparingly again. Please let me know if you ever cured it permanently?
      thanks so much

  22. So you use the antifungal every day then? I’d love for it to work but hate to be dependent for life.

  23. Upon reading your blog I went right out to drugstore and grabbed Lotrimin. As soon as I got home I washed and dried my face, then put it on. But when I looked closer I realized I had gotten Lotrimin Ultra, which is 1% butenafine HCL, whereas the Lotrimin you recommended is Clotrimazole. Did you ever try Lotrimin Ultra? I'm wondering if I've made a terrible mistake.

  24. I am a hot yoga fanatic, have you ever noticed the heat and humidity triggers your PD? I'm not wanting to give up Hot Yoga (since I'm actually a teacher not just a fanatic) but I've noticed my PD seems to get worse after class. Anyone else notice this? Help!

  25. I have it in my lips as well as around mouth and nose. They are swollen and feel like sand paper. Any advice?