My Experience With Perioral Dermatitis, And How I Got Rid Of It Forever With Only 2 Ingredients

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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.

     
Carly Fraser has her BSc (Hons.) Degree in Neuroscience, and is the owner and founder at Live Love Fruit. She currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with a determined life mission to help inspire and motivate individuals to critically think about what they put in their bodies and to find balance through nutrition and lifestyle. She has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals to re-connect with their bodies and learn self-love through proper eating habits and natural living. She loves to do yoga, dance, and immerse herself in nature.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for your article on Perioral Dermatitis.
    This began to appear around my nose about 8 months ago, then as the warmer weather kicked in, it spread down my laugh lines around my mouth and onto my chin. Not pussy or popable, but red, and at times sore, hot and lumpy.
    I thought it was the organic jojoba oil I was using! I have a clean diet, use very basic skincare for irritated skin now, and resorted to trying a steroid cream our doctor had prescribed for a small rash on my sons thigh.
    The cream worked and overnight the rash disappeared! I used this twice a day for about ten days, then mentioned it to the doctor when I was getting blood test results. He gasped at the fact I was using such a strong cream on my face and told me to stop. He also said the rash will return when I stopped, and four days later it's back, with avengance!
    He prescribed a more gentle cortisol cream to use once a day for two weeks only. It's day two and there's no improvement so I might ditch the cream and give the sugar/oil a try.
    Wish me luck!

    • Wishing you luck! Yes, get off the cream – it will make your skin highly dependent on it and will not get rid of the problem. Be patient with the sugar and oil. It can take up to months to get rid of – but stay persistent and it'll go away!

  2. Hi! I was diagnosed with PD last October, had it a couple months before that though. I'm so frustrated with it!!! I'm so glad I found your article, if only to give me hope. In defeat of trying other failed remedies, I tried olive oil and powdered sugar, and it actually started healing my chin rash. I tested it only on one side so I could compare. I was ecstatic! Then a few days later I noticed two, very tiny new spots, and got deflated again… Reading that it will take time using this method gives me hope again. I eat relatively well, dairy and gluten free (Celiac) and don't get sick often (even with two kids) so I'm hoping it's not a true reflection of my inside health?! Thanks again!!

    • Yeah, could very well just be hormone fluctuations and stress (stress can change hormones too). Try stress-reduction techniques and keep going strong with the oil and sugar! If new spots pop up, just keep using it. It is literally the only thing that works!

  3. As you know, one of the biggest challenges with PD is how to (or whether to) disguise it — going to work, and for living a general non-hermit lifestyle. 🙂 When you say "Mix together and apply to the problematic areas – don’t ever take it off…" does this mean you literally had the mixture on 24/7 for 5 months? What does the mixture look like when applied? How did you maintain this treatment? Was it practical for every-day use/life?

    • Hey Molly,

      Yes, you literally leave it on 24/7, even when going out! Using olive oil or hemp oil with the icing sugar makes it kind of like an olive green paste which blends in really well with the skin. The mixture is pretty clear when applied, and when it dries it just looks like normal skin. I found it pretty practical, when I was out and about I would have to re-apply more often but it wasn't that big of a problem!

      • Thanks, Carly. I may have to try it. I'm about to "fail" my current course of antibiotics, and I've also religiously used metro gel, erythromycin gel, and Elidel over the past year and they didn't cure it. (Neither did the ACV, or grapefruit extract…. or the [insert anything here].) One other question: did you use a specific kind or brand of olive oil and powdered sugar? Does it matter?

        • Hey, I used a slightly different approach where I put on a thick paste for as long as I could in the day and overnight, but washed it off before I went out…still worked well for me. I washed it off with hot water and then washed with African black soap. That was my routine. I actually found that after a couple weeks my skin responded better with less time with the paste on. Now I use it daily for only about 20-30 minutes after beginning the routine about 1.5 months ago. Nothing else seems to work for me either. I do take evening primrose and fish oil capsules as supplements but have no idea about their contribution. I used Elidel as well and had the worst flare after the course was finished 😔. Anyway, you should try to use a "better" olive oil, like one from an organic section or something, because apparently olive oils can be mixed with lesser quality oils. I have a really good brand and compared the smell to a cheap brand and the difference is definitely noticeable. The powdered sugar I use is just the regular stuff.

          • Okay, so I started this last week. Improvement in 2 days but now little 'pimples' are coming back both sides of mouth. I think I'll try to gradually decrease doxycycline and add probiotics. Question – am I mixing the paste right? Do you heat it when you mix it? (I did not.) Do you always feel the sugar granules when it dries? If I touch those areas of my face in any way during the day (lightly applied), a bit of the sugar comes off. It's sitting lightly on the skin vs something that can be rubbed in so I'm slowly depositing a light, magical trail of sugar wherever I go.

  4. Doing this now, I am on day 2.5. I think Dawn Marie said to cake it on, so I'm walking around like a frosting face. Also, at night, it annoying because it melts off my face for about 30 min. (I am doing coconut oil). I liked your suggestion of blending it in with a smaller amount. I am really praying this works! Anything to get rid of this PD, outside of crazy heavy antibiotics!

  5. So, just to tag on, I tried the sugar paste with olive oil and it blended it much better than the thick coconut oil I used. Thank you! Now, I won't scare my kids as much, literally! Tomorrow is day 3. Hoping for a miracle. Also, I think I will sleep a lot better applying the paste in a thinner consistency. So, thank you.

  6. Hi! I think my comment got buried a bit since some of us posted around the same time. For the people who have done this: are the sugar granules supposed to completely dissolve in the paste, or do you always feel them on your face?

    • Hi, if you're using powdered sugar you shouldn't really feel it on your face…having said that, after about 15-20 minutes if the paste is around your mouth, you may notice clumps in your facial creases or laugh lines. I either tried to rub these back into my face (usually didn't work) or sort of help them fall off into a tissue and then leave the remaining mask on. No I don't heat it. It should feel like gooey icing, but not slide off your face.

      A note on coconut oil, this was terrible for my PD and made my skin breakout. Just in case anyone else finds the same!

  7. I have been dealing with PD all of 2017 now. I accidentally discovered what happens when you use a steroid cream on your face. I tried everything to help. Lately it had been fresh aloe Vera gel I harvested from my own plant at home. It helped with the pain at first but quickly dried up and flaked off and left it hurting worse.
    I found this and decided to try it on my clean, just washed face. Sadly it started burning really bad and kept getting worse. As I write this it's calming down and is burning only mildly. Did anyone else experience burning? Is it normal, maybe from cleaning the affected area? Thank you!

    • That's odd – maybe your skin is just really inflamed. Maybe try nothing on your skin for a few days, and then go back to the sugar and oil. Everything I tried burned, except for this, but every body is different!

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