If you’ve ever experienced a rash around the mouth or eyes that simply won’t go away, it could be perioral dermatitis.
Perioral dermatitis is an inflammatory rash that accompanies small white pustules. It can be incredibly irritating and sore to touch – it can also make you feel very self-conscious and embarrassed in public. The skin can also become very flaky and dried out.
At least, this was my experience with the rash. I always wanted to hide my face and never wanted to go anywhere because I felt like everyone would just stare at the huge red marks on my face. I got tired of explaining myself everywhere I went. I felt like I was not a good image of what the raw vegan diet was supposed to give you – beautiful, glowing skin. I felt like I was a failure of sorts.
My Experience With Perioral Dermatitis
I got the skin rash just months after quitting birth control. Now, perioral dermatitis is sort of a mystery to the medical community. Not many people know how its caused or why its caused, but what they do know is that it can be brought on by the following (1):
– Topical steroids, either when they are applied to the face on purpose or by accident
– Nasal steroids, steroid inhalers, and oral steroids
– Cosmetic creams, make-ups and sunscreens
– Fluorinated toothpaste
– Not washing the face
– Hormonal changes or oral contraceptives
– Stress (which can cause hormonal changes)
The only thing that I could really relate to was hormonal changes – I figured that because I went off birth control my hormones were freaking out and I got the rash. The only reason I attributed it to this was because I had never used topical steroids or nasal steroids, never used make-up, sunscreen or cosmetic creams, ditched fluorinated toothpaste many years before and my face washing regime was on point.
The rash also coincided with a water fast I completed and ended a little bit too early. The rash showed up on my face around the last day of my water fast – day 5 or 6. I figured my body was detoxing a bunch of junk from my past, which included nasal steroids, fluorinated toothpaste, make-up, sunscreen, and cosmetic creams. My body was simply trying to detox these substances that had been lodged into my fat cells for so long, but it never really got a chance to fully eliminate itself.
This is where the problem began. As much as I wanted to water fast again to end the problem once and for all, I decided to just stick to making plenty of green juices, and stick to the raw food diet (which is incredibly cleansing in itself). My face was very inflamed. I didn’t take any pictures at the time (which I regret, because I’d love to show you all the major improvement my face has made over the years), but the pustules and redness mostly showed up around both sides of my nose (following the smile creases), as well as below my bottom lip around the chin, and next to my eyes (which is a spot where perioral dermatitis can sometimes pop up as well).
For me, I thought the pustules were just little pimples and so I began popping them. Bad idea. Do not pop the pustules. The best thing you can do is leave it alone and don’t touch it. Of course, I didn’t know this is what I had in the beginning, so I just popped the little pustules and put tea tree oil on them.
I did my research on the internet and eventually discovered what I had. I spent an endless amount of hours and time researching and trying to find ways to cure the issue. It had been a month and my problem only got worse. I tried tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar (which stung like a b*tch and made it 10x worse), and basically everything under the sun. Nothing worked.
I was determined to not use prescription medication or prescription creams on my face because I know from experience and research that these things just make conditions worse, and also make you dependent on them. I also know that skin conditions occur because something is off inside the body. Our skin is a direct reflection of what’s going on inside, and so I figured if I just stuck to raw foods and gave my body some time off birth control that it’s eventually clear itself.
As much as I knew that diet and lifestyle had to remain clean and clear of any irritants and stress, I still felt like I had to put something on the skin condition to help it heal. After many late nights and hours of researching more into this very confusing skin condition, I finally stumbled across this blog by pharmacist Dawn Marie. Her explanations of the condition, and how bacterial skin conditions work made so much sense – and finally a light bulb went off.
A Little Bit of Sugar for Perioral Dermatitis?
As the title suggests, sugar kills perioral dermatitis. As explained by Dawn Marie in her blog:
“In premodern times, the idea that sugar can facilitate the healing of wounds has been documented. Mesopotamians were known to wash wounds with water or milk and subsequently dress them with honey or resin. Mesopotamians also documented the severity of wounds and which conditions were optimal for facilitating the rate at which the wounds would heal. Other substances, in conjunction with sugar, such as plant derivatives, wine, and vinegar were explored and implemented to determine their efficacy in wound healing.
In 1679, Scultetus made use of finely powdered sugar to clean wounds. Zoinin, in 1714, promoted the value of sugar for promoting wound and ulcer healing. In modern times, the use of sugar as a general treatment for the healing of wounds has received much attention in Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Currently, Brazil is the world’s leading producer of sugar, with 566 million tons cultivated in the 2008–2009 market year. Brazil is projected to increase production to 605 million tons for the 2009–2010 market year. This vast production makes sugar readily available and cheap. These attributes make the use of sugar an attractive candidate for the healing of wounds, especially in economically challenged areas. Moreover, certain types of wounds such as chronic wounds may benefit from a more cost-effective method of wound healing.”
She later goes on to explain the mixture that she used to cure her perioral dermatitis, which was cyclical for her and incredibly sore, irritating, burning and made it difficult for her to talk and smile. She combined powdered icing sugar with olive oil and applied this mixture to her face every day, 24/7. She made sure the mixture was on her face every minute, every second of the day, even while sleeping.
The reason she combined sugar and oil is simple. As she states, “Sugar has an antimicrobial effect because it deprives bugs of water (osmotic effect). The little critters shrivel up and die (bactericidal). Like salt on a snail. Sugar also lowers wound pH (makes it more acidic) which stops the bacteria from multiplying (bacteriostatic). Oil also functions in a physical way. Oil coats the bacterial cell wall (outer membrane). This apparently interferes with the ability of the cell to bring in food and water while preventing the elimination of garbage from the cell. In addition to the above, sugar helps skin to regenerate its barrier to a normal state.”
I started using the mixture rigorously, and never missed a day, or second for that matter, where the mixture was not on my face. It blended really nicely with my skin and you couldn’t really see it when it was on. The mixture treated and prevented the bacterial infection, sped up healing and decreased scarring.
I used the mixture for about 5 months until my skin was finally in tip-top shape. I still had an underlying redness that lingered about for around a year, but nothing too embarrassing. It would usually only come up if I rubbed that part of my face or scratched it.
The Mixture That Cured Perioral Dermatitis
To make the mixture combine 1 tbsp. powdered icing sugar and 1 tbsp. olive oil or hemp oil (Manitoba Harvest is the brand I used). Mix together and apply to the problematic areas – don’t ever take it off, always re-apply throughout the day as you need.
When you apply it at first your skin may get a little more red at first (for the first week or so), but it will not feel irritated. This may be the best relief you have felt the entire time you’ve suffered with perioral dermatitis. So keep in mind that it will look worse but it will feel better. It may also look as though it is growing – but don’t worry! Once your skin starts to calm down, you can use the mixture as often as needed. For safety precautions I left the mixture on for weeks after everything was gone, just to ensure that nothing came back.
It should also be noted that my diet remained relatively clean throughout this whole period. My hormones were also figuring themselves out after having been on birth control for 7 years. I slept plenty, drank 4 litres of water a day, got lots of sun and eliminated all chemical products from my life. I didn’t use face creams (only jojoba oil for moisturizing), and strictly washed my face with only water.
If you’re dealing with major hormonal problems, look to things in your diet or lifestyle that you could change. Eating a meat and dairy-heavy diet will automatically make you susceptible to absorbing excess hormones from these animal products (even if they’re free-range and organic). Menopause and other hormonal changes may also just take time for things to balance out again. If you’re experiencing menopause, consume foods like almonds, flaxseed, wild yams and take some evening primrose oil. Stress is another big factor that causes major hormonal fluctuations. I like to de-stress by making time for myself, creating music, making art, stretching, focusing on my breath, going out in nature, exercising, or reading a book.
Inspiration For Writing This?
I wanted to write my experience with perioral dermatitis because knowledge is power. I was also inspired to write about it because my mother came to me with the exact same condition on her face. She wanted to try other methods of getting rid of it, and she tried, but nothing worked better than the sugar and oil method. Her face is now clear of the dermatitis, except for one little spot that popped up between her eyebrows just recently. So she is sticking to the oil/sugar method, while at the same time finding ways to reduce stress and eat clean.
Best of luck to all of you! Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve decided to try this mixture, and if it works. Don’t give up! Be gentle on yourself. Be patient. This recipe does work you just need to give it time.
Megan Regney says
Please elaborate – “As much as I wanted to water fast again to end the problem once and for all….” are you saying it would’ve gone away if you had fasted longer than 5 days? Please elaborate! And also explain how you didn’t use any nasal steroid but then you were detoxing nasal steroids during the fast.
Thank you so much!
Carly Fraser says
Hi Megan – it is really hard to say whether it would have gone away if I fasted for longer than 5 days. It might have, it might not have. And when I talk about nasal steroids, I am saying that I used to use them in the past, so maybe my body was detoxing them. Again, it’s hard to say what triggered it, but it was likely the hormonal birth control and detox during water fasting.
Thank you so much for replying!
I finally can put a name to this condition I have been having for the last few years, Thank you. Can’t wait to try the easy remedy.
Carly Fraser says
It’s so frustrating when dealing with mysterious skin conditions! Hope this helps!