I will say that I've had Mononucleosis, an ACL surgery, five surgeries on my arm, two c-sections and two other surgeries....this has been more difficult than anything mentioned above.
I believe it was back in November little red dry spots started to appear on my face around my nose and above my left eyebrow. The spots were no big deal, about the size a dime. I didn’t think too much of it, and started using some prescription medication I had received within the last year for another facial breakout.
The spots would come and go. I soon became frustrated they wouldn’t permanently disappear, so I called my dermatologist to make an appointment. Frustratingly, they couldn’t fit me in for EIGHT WEEKS. Why is it that dermatologists don’t leave one or two time slots in the calendar for ‘emergency’ situations? A few years ago my daughter’s pediatrician was very concerned about one of her moles and recommended we see a dermatologist. They couldn’t get us in for three months. Knowing that melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers it seemed crazy to me they couldn’t see her sooner.
Between the time I scheduled my appointment and when I was finally able to see my doctor I was still using the facial ointment I’d had in my cabinet, Clobetasol Propionate. I would later find out the ointment I had been dabbing on my face in the eight weeks it took for me to see the doctor was a cortisone. Cortisone will temporarily make the rash look better, but when you stop your face flares up even worse. When I looked up this particular ointment the other day it stated a side effect is Perioral Dermatitis. Ugh!!! Frustrating considering I was using it because it says it’s for dermatological issues.
During the eight weeks I waited to see my dermatologist, I met with a naturopath to clean up my diet and find out if I was deficient in any vitamins. I found out I had a bunch of allergens and immediately removed them from my diet (eggs, wheat, yeast, dairy and other miscellaneous items.)
When certain foods are removed from your diet you usually add in other food as replacements. I questioned if some of these new foods were causing an allergic reaction on my face, and I stopped eating them. The spots continued. I removed the vitamins and supplements I was taking. The spots continued. I tracked my food to find a pattern. The spots continued. I stopped using my facial cleanser. The spots continued.
Being that it was the holidays and sugar was everywhere and NOT on my restricted list, my sugar intake quadrupled. After weeks of keeping the restricted foods out of my diet and eating lots of lots of sugar I wondered if this rash might be a symptom of Candida. Candida is an overgrowth of the yeast we all have in our system. Yeast feeds on sugar. I didn’t have all the symptoms of Candida, but my doctor and I felt I needed to cut sugar out of my diet in addition to everything else. And when I say sugar I mean ALL sugar….fruits, condiments, starchy vegetables, refined sugars. This was a HARD row to hoe.
When I was FINALLY able to see my dermatologist on January 10 (we’ll call this Day 1 because this is when I first heard what I was dealing with) the rash was now covering my chin and surrounding my mouth.
The doctor diagnosed me with Perioral Dermatitis. This meant nothing to me, other than I was finally relieved to receive some ointment and an oral antibiotic. I was pretty resistant to taking the oral antibiotic since I had been working very diligently to clean all the toxins out of my system. The doctor told me she hadn’t had much luck with this condition clearing up with the ointment alone. She wrote me a prescription for the oral antibiotic just in case I changed my mind. When she wrote me the prescription for a six week supply with an additional refill it should have been my first clue how terrible this condition is.
Day 1 - Friday January 10th: Saw the doctor. Received the diagnosis and prescription. Drove to two different pharmacies to have the prescriptions filled. Started the cream.
Day 2 – Saturday, January 11th: Woke up and spots seem better. Went for a run. Feeling relieved this rash will be a thing of the past.
Day 3 – Sunday, January 12th: Woke up and spots are worse than Saturday. Went for a run. Cried because I was frustrated, had no energy and concerned I could not maintain such a restricted diet. In the midst of my emotional breakdown my loving husband told me he would eat exactly what I’m allowed to eat so he could fully support his wife. By Sunday evening, the rash has worsened. I ordered and started the oral antibiotic which caused me to break out in hives on my stomach.
Day 4 – Monday, January 13th: Rash is worse. I covered my face with makeup and went to work. Tried to hunker down at my desk without having to see too many people. Exchanged about eight phone calls between the doctor and the pharmacy to receive a new prescription for another antibiotic. Luckily I had only taken one pill from the other prescription and my hives were gone. Otherwise, I would have had to wait a while for a new prescription. That evening I was nauseous, felt like I had a fever and my face was extremely painful.
Day 5 – Tuesday, January 14th: Face is very very inflamed. Painful to the touch. Stayed home from work. The rash has reached my right eye. The rash is bright red, and covered in what looks and feels like little blisters. Similar to if you were sunburned pretty badly and you develop little water blisters on your skin. Didn’t run or exercise.
TUESDAY EVENING: It is the worst it’s ever been. I’m debating if I should call my doctor in the morning. In the meantime, I decide to look on the internet for the first time with the search ‘Perioral Dermatitis how long to heal.’ As I scanned the internet I began to feel hysteria and with tears of desperation I said to my husband “Oh my God! Some people have been dealing with this for years!!” On one post a lady said it had been SIX years! One other lady said it was Day 46 before she felt halfway pretty again. It seemed the typical time frame was between 6-8 weeks for resolution. People wrote about staying inside their home for weeks without ever leaving to avoid seeing anyone.
Vanity or not, it was terribly painful and I could not imagine dealing with this for a few more days let alone weeks…or years.
For starters, no one knows what causes this condition. It is speculated any of the following could be a contributor:
- toothpaste with fluoride
- steroid cream that has touched your face
- change in hormones
- facial cleanser or makeup
- exposure to weather conditions (wind, etc.)
Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.
On Tuesday at 11:00pm my loving husband raced to the store to pick up toothpaste without fluoride. Biotin and Zinc for healthy skin cell growth.
Despite reading a bunch of stuff on the internet that scared me half to death, I did receive very helpful information from other people in regards to what worked for them. This is why I write this post. Perhaps it will help someone else. This is what I’ve done, but everyone is different. Please talk with your doctor first.
- Go to the doctor. Receive a prescription for a local cream and an oral antibiotic. I used Metronidazole cream and Amoxicillin oral antibiotic. The typical oral antibiotic prescribed in this situation is Doxycycline but this caused me to breakout in hives.
- Don’t put anything on your face (lotion, make up, soap.) Just wash your face with warm water and use the prescribed ointment. I diluted apple cider vinegar (one tsp to one cup water) and dabbed on my rash with a cotton swab. It helps to kill the bacteria. Then after it dried I put the ointment on top.
- Don’t touch your face. I was just short of taping oven mitts to my hands like Pheobe from Friends. My face burned, itched and was very very tight. I hardly slept because I would feel my face burning and find myself about to rub or scratch it.
- I began drinking diluted apple cider vinegar in the morning and in the evening before bed. One tablespoon to one glass of water. It helps flush out the yeast overgrowth.
- Clean up your diet! Stop eating sugar and processed food. (Thank God I had started this earlier!)
- Take a good probiotic.
- I stopped running and exercising because I felt the sweat could be irritating the rash even more. Long walks instead.
- Cut out coffee.
- Drink lots of water.
Day 6 – Wednesday January 14th: Face seems a little better around the chin. Rash has reached my left eye in addition to my right. Not quite as painful, but I still have little blisters below my nose. I’m feeling a little encouraged everything might be starting to work. (Although, I have read that some people think it’s starting to improve and then it will flare up again.). I’m trying to remain hopeful. This picture is of Day 6. This is a marked improvement over Day 4 and Day 5.
Day 7 – CURRENT DAY
Thursday, January 15th. Rash is definitely clearing up on the lower half of my face. Still a little bumpy and red…but better. Both eyes are swollen and are surrounded by the rash. Didn’t sleep again last night because I could feel my face itching and I was trying so hard not to touch it. I’m feeling hopeful and very very blessed.
- I feel blessed because this is clearing up much faster than what I read to be the average time frame.
- I feel thankful I started to clean up my diet a few months ago which I believe may be contributing to my quicker recovery.
- I feel fortunate to have access to medical treatment to help heal my ailment.
- I will have a new appreciation for my normal sun spotted, wrinkly, but overall healthy complexion.
- I am thankful for my husband who was supportive and understanding since Day 1.
What’s next…I will continue on with my course of treatment. Pray this will continue to heal. Continue to eat a clean and very low sugar diet. I will not wear any makeup or face products for weeks until it appears to be entirely gone. I will also be dumping all my expensive make up and face products and buying products that do not include any of the following as they are known to flare up Perioral Dermatitis.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)- This chemical is heavily restricted in Canada and Europe.
- Parabens – Parabens are known to disrupt the body’s hormones and endocrine system. They are also very harsh irritants when applied to the skin. These chemicals are found in most cosmetics and cleansers.
- Whiteners and Bleaches
On Tuesday night before bed I prayed and told Him I trust whatever His plan is for me. I know there is some lesson in this I’m supposed to learn. I may never know, but I might have a better idea in the near future. I’m not sure I believe in the saying “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” At least, it doesn’t always feel that way. I will say that I look at life’s challenges as an opportunity to become a better person. With each struggle I’ve become more educated. I’ve faced my vulnerability and become more humbled. I’ve uncovered more of my strengths and many of my weaknesses. But most importantly, with each challenge I become more grateful for all of my blessings.