My Battle with Eczema, Perioral Dermatitis, and Corticosteroid Cream

Do you struggle with eczema or perioral dermatitis but do not want to use corticosteroid creams to relieve the itching and burning? Then you’ve come to the right place – here’s how I relieve my eczema symptoms naturally and safely.

My Battle With Eczema, Perioral Dermatitis and the Dangers of Corticosteroid Cream

Steroid Cream Was My Little Magical Tube

I have struggled with eczema since I was a teenager and used to always rely on corticosteroid cream like Elocon. It was like my little magic in a tube that I even carried in my purse to nix the outbreaks that I always got on my hands, wrists, neck, elbows and knees. I applied it liberally and whenever necessary, over and over for the past 18 years or more. When I was pregnant with my second child, I started getting what looked like eczema around my eyes and mouth and under my nose. I whipped out my magic little tube and creamed them all (for 9 months straight, makes me shudder now to know I was doing that while pregnant!). It kept the rash at bay, and then went away after my son was born. But during my third pregnancy, the face rash came back with a vengeance. I was applying the cream like my life depended on it, with the expectation it would disappear again after the baby was born.

But it didn’t. And I forgot my tube at the hospital when I was giving birth, so the rash flared up and I looked like I had poison ivy all around my eyes, nose and mouth. I was embarrassed, itching, burning and couldn’t wait to get home and get my magic cream. Once home, the rash calmed down but wouldn’t go away this time like it had before.

My dad had discovered he was gluten intolerant a year before this (with the advice from his eye doctor, of all people) and ate a gluten-free diet which kept his eczema away. So, I set my mind to going gluten-free just a few weeks after my third baby was born. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I wanted to end my battle with eczema once and for all.

My Battle With Eczema and Some Natural, Non-Toxic Relief

One I went off the steroid cream, my hands looked like this.

My Skin Was Addicted to Steroids

So I went gluten-free, but it didn’t occur to me to stop using the cream. Lack of sleep, I guess, so I continued using it until I realized I was still using it and my eczema hadn’t cleared up. I stopped using the cream to see just how bad my eczema actually was and my face EXPLODED in the worst rash I have ever seen on a person. At one point, one of my eyes was almost swollen shut and I didn’t want to leave the house because it looked so bad. I literally looked like I’d been burned or got injured in a chemical explosion (okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s certainly how I felt).

Perioral Dermatitis - Withdrawals from Corticosteroid Cream

This is just a few days after going off the cream cold turkey – little did I know this was just the beginning of the withdrawal symptoms.

Like many, I turned to Google for answers and found many people had relief with apple cider vinegar (fantastic! I already love that stuff), oils like jojoba and coconut, essential oils like lavender, tea tree and rosemary, removing all toxic chemicals from their beauty regimen, and diet changes like removing gluten, alcohol and sugar. Wow. I had already removed all chemicals like SLS (sodium laureth sulfate), so at least that was done. So, I started using honey, coconut oil and apple cider vinegar on my raw skin and changed my toothpaste (SLS is in that, too). But my skin was still detoxing, so the rash got even worse.

I went to my dermatologist in desperation the worst day, which was about a week after going cold turkey, and even they were shocked. The doctor told me my skin had been addicted to the steroids since I overused it and now it was going through withdrawals. He said I had two options – antibiotics (even though it’s not a bacterial problem), going back on the cream and gradually easing off of over the course of a month, or wait it out. I was still nursing, so strong antibiotics were out (plus, I didn’t want them anyway). The kicker, according to him, to wait it out, was that it could take up to six months. SIX MONTHS of living like a hermit from embarrassment? I ignored his advice and turned back to Google for help (I now have a naturopath and wish I would’ve then because he could’ve helped me!).

About 5 days after going off the cream, and it still got much, much worse with blisters and my eyes were almost swollen shut.

About 5 days after going off the cream, and it still got much, much worse with blisters and my eyes were almost swollen shut.

Perioral Dermatitis

I found several websites dedicated to warning people about the dangerous side effects of steroid creams, and their experiences were way worse than mine. Some had the rash for a year or MORE after going off the cream. I guess I was one of the lucky ones because my withdrawal symptoms were gone after about six weeks.

My mom and I found a ton of information on dealing with it naturally, a lot of it coming from earthclinic.com. She wrote up a summary for me from a ton of different sites (she used to be an R.N. so she was VERY helpful) and I set out to clear up my skin. Here’s the all-natural regimen I used: (includes affiliate links to Amazon for your convenience):

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: I applied raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (where to buy) with a cotton ball three times a day. It was diluted by about half, and I increased the dilution as the rash started to dry up and clear up. This was by far the most effective method for me – it really dried up the rash but did burn.
  • Miracle Oil: I bought a bottle of Miracle Oil (where to buy) from my neighborhood health foods store that has a combo of tea tree and lavender essential oils with jojoba and hemp seed oils to create a potent little concoction that eases eczema, poison ivy, insect bites, cuts and scrapes and more! I applied it after the apple cider vinegar for relief, but sometimes even it was too strong for my raw skin.
  • Jojoba Oil: When my skin was too raw for any of the above treatments, I used plain jojoba oil ( because it is easily absorbed into the skin and closely matches the sebum of skin. It was soothing and calmed the horrible itching that comes with perioral dermatitis. (where to buy)
  • Discontinued used of makeup and didn’t wash my face at all, not even with my oil cleansing method. I did wear makeup once for my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary party, but it was non-toxic concealer I bought at my health food store.
  • Ate a gluten-free diet and also eliminated alcohol, dairy and limited sugar.

After three weeks, I could finally go out in public without embarrassment and I was doing much better. It was completely gone in about six weeks. This website was also helpful for me to learn about the condition – Zizia Dermatology.

The Dangers of Corticosteroid Creams for Eczema

Side Effects of Corticosteroid Creams

What I didn’t understand was the side effects of what I was taking – that by temporarily altering the function of the cells and tissues underneath the skin, corticosteroid cream can cause skin atrophy and even stretch marks where the skin breaks down. If used around the eyes, it can cause glaucoma and cataracts (YIKES!), and I was regularly using it around my eyes – DOUBLE YIKES!. And if overused and used on large parts of the body (both of which I have done before), it actually inhibits the body’s ability to produce cortisol, causing adrenal suppression. I shudder to think how often and for how many years I have used this toxic cream and the effects it’s had on my body. My hope is that my body is resilient and can heal itself. (Source – nationaleczema.org)

My one plea, one request is that dermatologists be very clear with their patients that this cream is NOT to be abused – it is powerful and dangerous and patients deserve to know. At least I can do my part to share my story, in the hopes that it will help someone else.

Going Gluten-Free Was Not Enough – Leaky Gut Syndrome and the GAPS Diet

I never knew just how bad my eczema was until I discontinued the cream. My hands are constantly covered in it, even on a gluten-free diet. Removing the gluten has helped to give me more energy and improve my mood, but I believe I might be battling a condition called “leaky gut syndrome” and am going on the Specific Carbohydrate and Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diets as outlined in the books, “Breaking the Vicious Cycle and “Gut and Psychology Syndrome.” I’m currently getting help from my naturopath to get some answers and to implement the diet. You basically go on an anti-inflammatory diet, removing all foods that can cause inflammation like gluten, dairy, some starches (like rice and potatoes), and sugar.

UPDATE – the GAPS diet is working! Going gluten-free was not enough for me as I did have leaky gut syndrome. I know, it sounds like I made it up, but Google it! I promise I didn’t. It’s where the lining of the gut is damaged and particles of undigested food and toxins leak out into the bloodstream, causing widespread inflammation. Inflammation is the root cause of many ailments and diseases. I was very overwhelmed to start it, so I skipped the intro part and went to the full GAPS diet. Once I removed sugar and all grains from my diet (I was already almost dairy-free), my eczema started to clear up. Now I only get outbreaks on my hands when I cheat and eat something with sugar or grains. The only dairy I’m eating is that which is allowed on the diet – colby and cheddar cheese, but in small amounts. I drink a lot of coconut milk, too. Nuts also really bother me (even when they are soaked and fermented), which is an indication to me that my gut lining is still not healed and sealed, so I plan to start the intro diet in the next week or so. I wrote more about it in my post, How I Switched from Processed Food to Real Food and the GAPS Diet.

Just remember – eczema is an internal problem, not external! Creams can ease the discomfort and itching, but they will never cure. As I’m trying to figure out the right diet to cure my case, I do have a few go-to natural solutions to ease the itching, which I will share in the next post, part 2 – stay tuned!

Are you gluten intolerant and struggling with what to cook? Check out my Gluten and Grain-Free Cooking board on Pinterest!

How to Purchase High Quality Essential Oils through My Merry Messy Life

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About Sara McFall

Sara is the owner and founder of My Merry Messy Life, which started in 2011 as a way to chronicle her journey to a natural, chemical-free lifestyle and to share her passions of mothering, real food, homeschooling and crochet. She is a mama to three precious and energetic little boys and wife to a university professor who loves to sing, dance ballet and ballroom, and live simply and naturally.

Comments

  1. Hello! I wanted to say thank you so much for sharing this post. My son battles exema and we have had no luck finding something that really works for him. We will be looking into trying some of these sugestions. Thank you 🙂

  2. Awesome read, I have psoriasis and it also has to be dealt with the inside. not the outside, and i have used so many things on my skin over the years. I am reading a book on healing psoriasis with your diet. He is talking leaking gut, and so much the same things. It is amazing how we can heal our selfs with the foods we put in our body’s. My knees and legs are still broken out, and i take shots for my arthritis, so i don’t like taking more medication that is so strong. Love your website, hugs, karen

  3. Karen Wood says:

    What an awful problem to have. I have some kind of localized skin problem on one shoulder and maybe this info is useful for it too. Can’t wait to see the next post also.

  4. Hello! Just wanted to say thank you for this post, and for openly sharing your struggle. I suffered from a tough face rash last year (shortly after having my second boy). It was finally diagnosed with rosacea, after several visits to various dermatologists (the first of whom gave me a corticosteriod to treat it, and made it many times worse!) Turns out a new natural face cream was the trigger for me. I too found a lot of help from earthclinic; and others sufferers who were sharing their experience with acv, jojoba oil, coconut etc. A fragrance free, SLS free, additive free lifestyle is so important. As are finding stress reduction practices and a diet harmonious to your body. (My husband is following the Breaking the Vicious Cycle diet).
    Good luck to you. And thank you for this uplifting post. Helps to feel not so alone in it!

    • Wonderful to hear your story! Thank you for sharing. That’s great that you also liked earthclinic. Crazy that it helped me more than any doctor did. You are so right about the lifestyles we need to live- so many toxins in today’s world. And that is SO cool that your husband is following the SCD diet! Maybe you can give me some pointers.

    • Nicole Foster says:

      I definitely agree that health starts from the gut. We need to make sure that we put the right fuel in to maintain our health. I follow a special diet which I think can be best explained as healthy, unprocessed and not too much of one particular thing and this helps me to manage my conditions. After treating my body from the inside with the correct foods I started taking emu oil capsules to heal my intestines as it is a natural anti inflammatory and also put emu oil on topically. I have found a great improvement in my skin. I was so inspired that I started my own health products company. 🙂

  5. My customers and I have found relief from escema and psoriasis with Argan Oil products. It is a traditional tree nut oil. Other natural remedies include Jewelweed, Neem Oil. My sons doctor said bath in Luke warm water and handmade soaps, olive oil bases, goat milk or pone tar all help.

  6. Earlier this year, I broke out in a rash around my mouth, similiar to yours (but not as severe). My doc prescribed a short course of oral antibiotics and a antibiotic/corticosteriod cream. I had tried many “natural” remedies, but that cleared it up. I was fine again until earlier this fall. I have been trying coconut oil, honey, argan oil, as well as the same cream from the earlier rash. It’s not working and I think I will give the oral antibiotics a go 🙁 But I am going to try out your other tips too. I am mainly concerned that this might be a latex allergy since both times happened after dentist visits (but not immediately). Or an infection from the dentist. Or a reaction to something the hygenist used…so many variables!

    • It could be fluoride! Find a fluoride and SLS free toothpaste. The kind I use is by Now Foods. When I cut out fluoride and SLS my flare ups were reduced significantly.

    • Regardless of being allergic to latex (I am, too) eczema is a gut health issue.
      Key phrases to Google or YouTube:
      Dr. Joel Wallach; Dr. PETER Glidden; Dead Doctors Don’t Lie; 90 for Life; 10 Bad Foods; Youngevity.
      It’s a complete lifestyle change.

  7. Hi 🙂 I’ve suffered from eczema since I was a baby and perioral dermatitis for 3 years. I stopped using fluoride, SLS, makeup, Chapstick, or putting anything on my face but it still didn’t go away. I used only Shea butter and coconut oil on my face. But It was CONSTANT. A few weeks ago I got really sick and broke out with a horrible rash on my neck, chest, and shoulders. I didn’t know what it was but my friend told me about African black soap. I picked some up and it worked. The rash on my body cleared up so I decided to try it on my face. The rash was gone. I could see my skin and it wasn’t red everywhere. This stuff is amazing and it helps eczema and POD. Nothing else has ever worked for me. I’m 22 years old and for the first time in years my skin is not in constant pain. The soap can be drying so I’d reccommended Shea butter after using it. I wanted to share because I know the frustration. good luck!!!

  8. Avidly waiting for your second post on this matter, i am currently struggling with, contact dermatitis , for me looks like perioral or eczema, 3 doctors and still no cure, right now pregnant so, under no treatment for the moment, I am currently a mess, worse than ever, must be the hormones, I’d like to think this condition will improve after having my baby, in the mean time, i would like to find natural methods, already relying on the vinegar solution, but not topically, I might just try that , for now I drink it daily, trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, I must be honest to myself and recognize that during my pregnancy i have eaten worse that the past years, since I try organic, lately I have been eating a lot of commercial pastry, and stuff from the market on the pantry, I guess that is what is making my problem worse. I was under treatment a few weeks back for a short period, only 7 days and Oh God, how much improvement was made in such a short time , corticosteroid cream yes, I havent seen my face so clean for the past 2 years since my problem started, i was happy, my treatment was cancel due my pregnancy for the obvious reasons, it did not pass a week when I am worst than ever!………..it is a sad condition, very stressful I might add, that is not helping, the stress. I loved your post, and that is natural, I do 100% believe in natural methods, hope you get better soon and find the right diet, waiting for your next post on the improvements! good luck.

    • Hi! I have been fighting contact dermatitis on my face for the past year now. Have you been cured? Did it go away? I have been to doctor after doctor and I have stopped all use of the horrible medications I was prescribed from doctors that told me there was no cure, only creams. I am hopeful that this will eventually go away. Man do I pray day in and day out. Mine is pretty severe and doesn’t seem to ever want to go away. And now that I am pregnant I am worried and even more stressed out. Any help you can offer me will be appreciated.

  9. Christina S. says:

    Oh gosh, so sorry to hear you went though all this! I have battled with Peri-oral/ocular dermatitis since the first bout when I was 17. It started for me with a few small bumps on the side of my chin that just wouldn’t go away and a primary care physician who prescribed a steroid cream…that of course made it go away and then quickly return with a vengeance. Hence I entered my first semester of my first year in college with what I would compare to a red goatee shaped rash. I would walk through campus hiding behind my books. So back then I did the tetracycline antibiotic solution as suggested by the dermatologist (I was 17 and desperate…would have taken anything if you told me it worked and this was before the internet was a resource). Cleared up and now I at least knew the terrible consequence of topical steroids which I have since avoided like the plague.

    It threatened to come back a time or too but I was careful to stick to washing with Cetaphil only as that dermatologist told me back in college and it never really came back full force, yet always seemed like I could see a redness faintly come through at times and just never really was gone gone.

    Skip a head to post baby #2 and it came back, lighter than the first time though this time near my eyes also and it was noticeable enough to bother me daily when I looked in the mirror. I knew what I was dealing with so I did not make the steroid mistake. So it never got too scary looking. This time I decided to try my own hand at solving the problem. I tried a few ideas I found online…almond oil, witch hazel, vinegar….for those I did not personally find success…just made the rash look brighter red…it didn’t spread, but it also did not go away. So I looked for more ideas. Next I went with fluoride free toothpaste and gave up all skin products on my face and forced myself to stick to nothing but water and also read not to wipe face but to blot. Finally it completely disappeared after a couple of weeks of fastidious neglect.

    So now I do wear eyeliner and mascara (natural plant based organic ones) on special occasions a few times per year and remove with only water. I never use soap or apply any substance or product to my face. For me this kept it at bay, but still at times I could see one bump or a hint of redness threatening to come through in those traditional areas until I gave up shampoo and went with the conditioner only cleansing method for my hair awhile back. I haven’t even seen a hit of it since, so I am very happy. These are my current main rules that I think keep me clear:

    1. Topical Steroids are your EVIL NEMESIS….never never even go near a tube. Best not to even look at it…but seriously…if my husband gets a bad case of poison ivy and uses a topical steroid he cannot even touch me or sleep in the same room as me because I fear it will trigger my p.o. dermatitis.
    2. Don’t touch your face with your hands; just leave it alone…this one is the hardest for me.
    3. Never use cleansers or apply ANYTHING to your face, except lukewarm water…I found this to be like giving up shampoo where once your face got used to not washing the oils away with soap less oils were produced (3 or 4 days) and a splash of warm water 2x a day keeps me plenty fresh.
    4. Never WIPE your face with towel. I always use a fresh dry wash cloth and “pat” dry, no rubbing/wiping.
    5. Use SLS and fluoride-free tooth paste and rinse skin around mouth/wash face afterward. Watch out when you go to the dentist! Be sure to alert them you are allergic to fluoride. Not sure what you’d do if you live somewhere they fluoridate the water.

    It is funny, I feel like all my life I followed my mother’s example of looking for the “right” product that would solve all my problems, but really found that the only solution is to give up all the products. At least for once the solution costs less than the problem!

    Best of luck with your peri-oral derm and thanks for sharing; it is always nice to compare notes with others out there dealing with the same challenges…I think with the nature of dermatitis being that it is based on what your body is over-reacting to, no one solution fits all and each person may have it set of my one or more substances that may be completely different from the one or more substances that touch it off for someone else, but if you can just do as you did and detox and get away from all possible irritants and have the patience (b/c like you said it can take 6 mo. to calm down) it is worth it in the long run. If you are brave you could then retest the products you love and see if they trigger it…I am not that brave and now prefer being product free…it is a bargain anyway.

    • Wow, Christina! Thank you so much for sharing your tips and experiences! I love that you write that topical steroids are your “evil nemesis.” Couldn’t agree more. They are officially saying now that they do suppress the adrenal glands. Not good. My POD is totally fine when I’m on a gluten-free, nearly sugar-free and only fermented dairy or no dairy at all. Getting a good night’s sleep really helps, too, and managing stress.

  10. Try “The Virgin Diet” by J. J. Virgin. It is all about leaky gut syndrome and overcoming food intolerances. You are already ahead of the game by knowing that you have a gluten intolerance. I tried it and discovered the same thing. The gluten was making my joints inflamed. I have osteoarthritis in my knee from an injury in my 20s and once I was gluten free the pain I was having was almost completely gone. (There will always be some until I get the knee replaced).

    Her diet starts with eliminating 7 foods for three weeks and then introducing them back one at a time to see if you have a reaction. No soy, gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, sugar and artificial sweeteners, and no eggs. It is hard at first because there is soy and corn in everything so you have to read labels very closely and find grass fed meats. I never did find chicken that showed that it wasn’t fed corn.

    I love all of your recipes for green beauty products and been giving them as gifts. I get the biggest raves from the deodorant.

    • Hi Brenda! Awesome, thank you for your tips. That is so good to know that going gluten free helped your knee pain! Incredible, isn’t it? I have gone on the full GAPS diet and have found that sugar has been the kicker for me – if I even have too much honey now my eczema will flare up and I’ll have pain. So, right now I’m grain (includes corn, rice, gluten, oats), dairy, and sugar free but I do eat a lot of eggs. I have found pure grassfed beef that I buy online. It’s so hard, isn’t it? But totally worth it. I think it’s so cool that you give deodorant for gifts! You must have some neat family and friends :).

  11. I have suffered from moderate to severe hand eczema for 47 years along with various forms of dermatitis, including perioral dermatitis, etc. on other parts of my body. Thousands of dollars have been spent on doctor visits, prescriptions, OTC creams, etc. not to mention the gloves to protect my skin (both vinyl and cotton). Last March I was at my wit’s end and I prayed for a solution to the constant 24/7 itching on my hands. That night I discovered the “no poo” shampoo method (my itching/breakouts also extended to the scalp and ears). Within a week my skin was 98% improved. Since then, I make all my own skin care products ranging from shampoos, face and body. I have little to no itching and that is relieved by drinking green or nettle tea followed by opening the tea bags and massaging them onto my hands. It sounds crazy but after all those years of the dermatologists telling me to not wash my hands and “here’s a steroid”, my own fortitude healed me. Modern medicine has its benefits but it certainly isn’t the “cure all”. If I could get a free dermatology visit, I’d go back to the doctor to show him my hands now as compared to when he last some them.

    • What an incredible story, Nikki! Wow, I’m so glad your prayers were answered. I couldn’t agree more – modern medicine is awesome when you need surgery or something to save your life, but it really lacks in the day-to-day prevention of disease and keeping our bodies in good working condition. I’ve found that naturopaths, chiropractors and holistic practitioners are much better for the daily maintenance, plus, doing your own research just like you did. I’ll have to share your comments on my Facebook page! Incredible story.

  12. Jeanna Mcleod says:

    So glad I found your site.. My daughter has super bad eczema that is a daily battle. We have tried about everything from changing diet, allergy testing (no corn, soy, wheat, yeast, tomato, apple, grape free diet) use steroid cream and daily OTC moisturizer.. Going to try the shampoo and look into the oils for her skin since it covers her head to toe. Thanks for your help!!!!

    • Hi Jeanna! Wow, I’m surprised that changing her diet hasn’t helped. You’ve done the hardest part already. Now just changing the products you use on her will be a breeze compared to that! I suggest the oil cleansing method, ditching all shampoo and conditioners and going no-poo, making her own face powder (if she’s wearing makeup yet), and changing soap to Dr. Bronner’s or any castile soap. Basically, go totally non-toxic in all the products she uses on her body! Just whittle them down one by one if it’s too overwhelming to tackle it at one time.

  13. Hi Sara!!
    Thank you so much for sharing your story!! I thought I was reading my own story there for a few minutes!! I have been using clobadesol (storongest steroid cream) on my hands to alleviate dyshidrotic eczema on my palms since my early twenties (over 10 yrs!!) I then started to get flare-ups of what acted like cradle cap while on certain parts of my menstrual cycle (the contraceptive pill was causing this). When I was pregnant with both of my babies, I used clobadesol sparingly on my palms when I’d have random flareups, but I wished I’d had a healthier solution at the time. I only recently discovered this perioral dermatitis a few months ago and thought it was a candida rash, to which I responded by starting a candida diet protocol by dr. McCombs (who I found on youtube, very informative). I only got 1month into the 4month plan before my body started getting very stressed out by the sweating protocol (my blood type is A+ so am easily prone to stress) and so I’m taking a break from that even though I felt better overall. I know for certain that my gut health is WAY off right now, and I’m just now researching the GAPS diet to see if that will be the right way for me to go now. I’m just praying that it is. I feel I can follow any diet as long as I know I will have results. Thank you again for sharing your story!! I hope you find permanent relief from your symptoms soon and am looking forward to updates from you!! 🙂 cheers!!

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Brooke! Our’s are very similar indeed. I hope you also find answers – the GAPS diet is really working for me. The only time I have flareups are when I cheat and eat something with sugar in it! Eek, hard to stay away from, but totally worth it until my gut is healed.

      • Sara,
        Did you start the GAPS diet with the intro diet? I’m gathering the info I need to start the diet as far as recipes etc., I’m glad I already have some 2mo old homemade sauerkraut in my fridge so I should be able to use that when I introduce fermented foods. This whole thing has been a long time coming and I really hope to be able to see some improvement soon. I’m seeing some flare-ups that are related to past use.. and I SOOOO wish I could go back in time and slap myself on the face and knock that tube of cream into the trash can!!

  14. Wow, thank you for your story. My now 6 year old has had eczema since she was 2 and we have been using some kind of cream from the doctor on it for years. I feel so guilty now, I’m going to assume it’s a steroid cream of some kind. I don’t even know. I do know that I have always used it sparingly. We have had two tubes since she was 2 and never finished either one. I am going to switch to your suggestions and wean her off the doctor cream.

    • Hi Jennifer! Oh, I hope you won’t feel guilt. You had no idea and trusted your doctor, so you did nothing wrong. Now that you know, you can move in a different direction, but no shame! It sounds like you’ve used it very wisely anyway, so give yourself a pat on the back for that. I do hope my post can help your daughter – it is diet related, which is not the easy answer, but it’s the truth the doctors won’t tell you (yet…).

    • Your story was really inomrfative, thanks!

  15. I am amazed by your story. I would really appreciate it if you could give me some advise. I am 17 years old and 2 years ago i was given hydrocortizone cream for around my mouth and it looked like i had eczema under my bottom lip. After using the hydrocortizone which im going to put HC for short, i noticed some spots coming round my mouth. Firstly i did some reasearch to find that i had perioal dermatitis, i was still using HC at this point because i thought that would clear it up which it did and then it came back it was like a vicious circle. I went to see a Chinese Doctor who uses all natural ingriedents. She gave be a cream which had B6 on the front and the rest was wrote in Chinese. I used the cream as soon as i got home and my eyes lit up! The spots were going i was so pleased. When the spots had gone i stopped using the cream until it came back. I used the cream again and ended up using it for 2 years when it flared up. For about 2 months now i have had nummular eczema which it circular patches of eczema. However, i also found out that the cream the Chinese doctor gave me had 0.0001% of steriod cream in it! I was so annoyed! She told me it was all natural! So i stopped using the cream completely about 4 days ago and the spots have come but are not that bad. I went to see a doctor today and explained the situation about my PD and Nummular Eczema and he has gives me Doxocyline for one week. I would like to ask, how long you were on the antibiotics for? And how long they took to work? Im worried that one week wont be enough to get rid of it? Also did yours re-acure after the use of steriod cream again? And once its cleared what can i do to stop it coming back again?

    • Hi Megan! I’m so sorry you are also suffering. Can’t believe you were given “natural” medicine that had steroids in it! So, I never went on the antibiotics. The dermatologist prescribed them for me, but I didn’t want to throw off the balance of bacteria in my system and cause more problems. So, I toughed it out for 3-4 weeks and it dramatically improved. If you’re trying to go natural, antibiotics won’t help. My PD has recurred at all and it’s been 10 months or so. Once I got a trace of redness under one of my eyes when I ate some cashews, but then it went away. I think you can stop it from coming back again but switching out your beauty and hair products for natural ones – I have lots of easy recipes here on the blog for that. And, you have to change your diet, like I mention in the post at the end. Not the easy answer, but I believe it’s related to diet and toxins in beauty products.

  16. I just realized that I have had POD for years and didn’t know it. Last May I had a patch in the crease of my nose, started self treating to no avail. By July nothing had cleared and it showed up the corner of my mouth. I then got a cream from the dr that was not a steroid but didn’t proved any relief at all. I fought or a few more months, tried some essential oils, nothing. I was on a few different prescribed creams and by December was fed up. I went on a steroid with an anit fungal in it. It went away for about 2 weeks then showed up again. So I over treated it. After finding that the cream was not working I started researching hard and heavy online and found my first blog that I could actually diagnose this stuff. I went to the dr this past Tuesday asked for dox and quit the steroird cold turkey. HUGE massive breakout. I refuse to go out anywhere and t all happened while I was traveling on business! I walked through the airport with my head down would never look at anyone, on the edge of tears the entire time. I was even pulled out of line at the gate by security because I was acting suspicious! Even MORE humiliating, I had to look at him and tell him I was so embarrassed I didn’t want to look at people. He took pity on me and didn’t pat me down again. Now my flare up is still raging. It’s day 6, my face is bright red all around my nose and mouth I look like I have a gotee.. I am taking 11 viamins, and getting ready to start a full juice regime today. I had to wait till I got home. The vitamins I am taking are Niacin, L-Lysine, Collagen, CoQ10, Zinc, Biotin, Beta Carotene, Adrenal Health, Fish oil, E, D3, B12, . I am on dox because I am desperate, 100 mg 2x a day. I don’t have anyting helping yet. Although this morning I awoke with half the new scabbing and no new clear fluid leaking. I am hoping that is a good sign. My face tingles a lot, I am not sure if that indicates new breakouts or steroid leaving my dermos. I will be juicing for an undetermined time, but I do believe it is gut related. (fat, sick and nearly dead) was very good movie to watch and I have juiced before. I feel doomed right now. Thank you for your post and for people’s reply’s it does help. I think Dr.s are over rated and pushing people through the office fast. Hoping for a better face soon…going to look up your recipes too. Thank you!

    • Oh Lori, my heart goes out to you. I know exactly what you’re talking about! The good news is that you’re on day 6 and you’re already seeing scabbing and no more oozing – I think that is a very good sign as that’s when mine started to really heal. You are doing all the right things – the juicing, the vitamins, knowing it’s coming from your gut…You are going to be healed, but your skin is having to relearn how to heal itself. Remember, it was addicted to steroids! So, it’s steroid rehab you’re going through :). I wish you all the best and can’t wait to hear your success story!

      • Thank you so much for responding Sara. Today looks better, not quite as much angry red, and no oozing at all! I am sooooo thankful, answer to prayer for sure. A question if you have time. Do you have a recommendation for what I can put on my affected area to relieve the tight dry feeling? It’s so uncomfortable. I am using coconut essential oil, not the jar that has solid coconut oil in it. Thank you for your blog lot’s of good stuff!

        • Jojoba is my favorite oil for my face, Lori. Even olive oil would work well. And you can rub it in as often as needed. I’m so glad you are having some relief today – yay!! You’re gonna get through this – it WILL get better. But it does take time, which is so hard when it’s on your face!

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  18. Angelica says:

    Great shared story and advice. But, I was wondering why you put blind spot on your eyes… as if you did not want your readers to recognise you. But, it’s supposed to be you. So why cover up?

    • Yes, it is me. Good question! I just didn’t want my face to be used for something nefarious one day – it was personal enough to show a picture of my face and write the post, let alone show my whole face.

  19. Hi…just wanted to offer another solution to eczema. I had it horribly on my hands but found that herbs stinging nettle and speedwell made into tea and drank 6 times a day for 6 weeks is an awesome blood cleanser. I’ve been eczema free now for 25 years!!

  20. Deborah Chisholm says:

    I just wanted to address the issue of not starting with the intro diet if one suffers from eczema and leaky gut, as I did. Two years ago, I suddenly developed eczema all over my face and neck that reacted to nuts, dairy, alcohol, and eggs. Doing the Gaps intro diet cured my leaky gut and eczema. I didn’t even need to do the regular GAPs diet! The reason is that the intro diet is very healing and all the nutrient-dense broth you have to consume is actually what will calm, heal and seal the permeability of your gut. This is explained in all the GAPS sources. If you don’t heal and seal the gut lining, the eczema will reoccur every time you try to reintroduce your trigger foods back into your diet. Full GAPS diet is NOT meant to sustained long term, as stated by the doctor who designed it, as there are too many healthy foods and necessary nutrients will be deprived of if you try to sustain yourself on it, long term. It truly is a treatment, not a lifestyle, although it’s a great way to reorganize your approach to eating, with emphasis on whole foods.

    Yes, GAPS intro is a little overwhelming at first, although it’s easy in some ways. But for only 30 days, the price of feeling better, seeing almost immediate results and sealing that gut so you can go back sooner to eating a full diet is more than worth the initial trouble. There is no reason for anyone to suffer any longer than they have to!!

  21. Dear Sara,

    I am so glad I came across this site. I was diagnosed perioral dermatitis two weeks ago. I have had eczema my whole life, and have been treating it with steroid creams for about 8 years when it first appeared on my face. I probably have had perioral dermatitis for years undiagnosed. Recently, the dermatitis has gotten so bad around my eyes that they would swell up to the point that I couldn’t see in the morning after I woke up. I still am struggling with this. I went to an allergist thinking I had some horrible allergy, who ruled out allergies and then diagnosed me with the dermatitis. Before the allergist, I had been to at least 10 different specialists for my eczema in the past years. It is pathetic to think that no one has ever thought of perioral dermatitis before. It is so frustrating because some days I wake up and can’t even open my eyes, but other days I look normal. My allergist basically recommended that I put nothing on my face except water and petroleum jelly for 2 weeks to ensure that perioral dermatitis was the correct diagnosis. I know now that this is exactly what I have been suffering with for years. Have you heard of putting petroleum jelly on it? It seems to help with the dryness around my mouth, but my eyes are sooooo itchy all the time. They are so bumpy, red, and leathery. I have had blood shot eyes since I went off the steroids. Do you have any recommendations for me? Would changing my diet help? I am very new to this, and literally the only thing I have tried is nothing on my face at all. I would like to find something to relieve the itchy at the very least.

    I also have extremely itchy arm pits all the time. I assumed this was a reaction to shaving them, but after going two (dreadful) weeks without shaving, and noticing that they itched just as worst if not more, I ruled that out. Could this be related to the dermatitis? I typically put hydrocortisone cream on them for mild relief, but after realizing how harmful the steroids are, I wanted to stop with them all together. Any ideas on treatment or diagnosis for this?

    Again, I really appreciate the article and will be sharing it with my family and close friends who are trying to understand what I am going through. This is giving me hope for the next couple of months!

    • Hi Kelcey! Oh, I am so sorry you are suffering so badly and have for so long. It makes me so so sad that doctors just throw harmful steroid creams at us and never talk about fixing the root cause! So I am GLAD you found this post! Okay, you are definitely going through steroid cream withdrawal. Your face was addicted to steroids and now has to learn to heal itself without steroids. My face looked HORRIBLE (as you can see from the pictures) before it looked better. And the itching was insane. I got through it by using lots of essential oils – lavender, lemon and frankincense mixed with coconut oil. It gave a lot of relief with the itching. As for your underarms, I’m not really sure. What kind of deodorant are you using? I’d start using an all natural one, and I have a recipe for it here on the blog. (click here)

      Also, I cannot stress enough how important diet is to fixing this issue at the root cause. Your body is dumping toxins out into your skin, so it is overloaded. My chiropractor has put me on a ton of supplements that have helped me tremendously this past year, but changing my diet to Paleo has been the best thing I’ve ever done for my health. My PD has yet to come back! And essential oils help to manage it in the meantime.

  22. Hi Sara!

    My Perioral Dermatitis just showed up a few days ago. I have been put on Tetracycline but I’m hoping a more natural approach will really tackle the problem at hand. I am going to use both the Miracle Oil you mentioned as well as the African Black Soap that another commenter has mentioned. However, I was wondering if you’ve had any flare ups since your first initial breakout? From my research, I’ve found that PD has a high relapse rate any many sufferers endure flareups from time to time. Have you had any?? I’m hoping to never have to deal with this monster again and would like to find reassure that some don’t have to deal with it more than once!!

    Thanks for this post, it was super helpful! BTW, I cut out dairy and will try my hardest to stay away from gluten and lots of sugar!

    Suzanna

    • Hi Suzanna! Great news – not a single flare up and it’s been a year and a half!! Not a single. Now, on days when I’m really tired or have eaten lots of sugar the day before, I will get red marks where it used to be. But I eat a pretty strict Paleo diet and take lots of probiotics and supplements, so I know that is helping immensely. Changing one’s diet is NOT easy, but is by far the most rewarding thing you can do for your health!

  23. I just want to say thank you very much for sharing this wonderful information, I have been searching for a cure for my dermatitis eczema for a while but everything I found did not work.

  24. Hi everyone!
    I had PD and a doc advice me to use elocom ointment. Face cleared alright but now it keeps reoccurring I have used it for like 2 months.I am an African and now my face is getting lighter . . I’m feeling so bad and my self esteem is low . .I am in IT support industry and facing clients is a problem . . I haven’t used elocom for 3 days and now there is a bad rash on my forehead and around my mouth . encourage me to never put that steroids on my face and what else u should do

    • You could gradually wean off of the steroids so you don’t have a really bad rash – that’s what my dermatologist recommended. Wean off over the course of several weeks. If not, you will break out really badly. Then, use lots of essential oils, coconut oil, and even apple cider vinegar to help your skin heal as you wean off.

  25. Just wanted to say how organic Raw Shea Butter helped me. I now use it as a face moisturizer as well. I just apply make up on top.(blemish coverup)

  26. Hi Sara. Thanks for sharing your story. I am a 38 year old mother of three children. I was having terrible stomach issues for over a year, so after reading some info a friend gave me about a paleo diet, I tried it. After a week I already felt better. After a month I felt fabulous and I was dropping some extra pounds I had put on. After two months I noticed some redness next to my nose. Gradually that redness spread to around my mouth, my chin, and the other side of my nose. I thought when you remove gluten from your diet it’s supposed to make your skin look better. I had never had skin issues in my life! After doing a lot of internet research I’ve concluded it is perioral dermatitis. I have been trying probiotics, zinc supplements, cod liver oil, coconut oil, liver detox tea, changing to natural toothpaste, face wash, shampoo. My husband thinks I’m crazy because I want to get rid of everything in our house. Everything has sodium lauryl sulfate in it. EVERYTHING! Even dish soaps! It is not an extremely terrible case of POD, but it bothers me and it itches. Could changing to a paleo diet have caused this in the first place? I dare not go to my GP or a dermatologist, and a natropath is expensive. I just want this to go away.

    • Megan, have you tried essential oils? I highly suggest the ones from Young Living, and you can get them through me. They are the best ones I’ve ever used. Also, it could be some new allergen that got added into your life, any number of things. You could find a NAET certified practitioner who could test you for allergens, or talk to you about it.

  27. 35 yrs old. Been suffering with Periorificial Dermatitis off and on for 6+ yrs. Around the nasolabial folds, chin and eyelids. If you don’t want case info, skip to the bottom for what cured it for me.
    Never took hormones. Social drinker. Crappy diet but no fast food or really processed stuff. Never took supplements or did much skincare beyond washing with Bronner’s soap and moisturization with oils. Skin leans toward dry, but I live in a tropical climate and it can become greasy. Not acne prone, not even blackheads. I use regular toothpaste and in my shampoo there are SLSs. I’ve never been one for taking pills I can’t remember the last time I took antibiotics, and I haven’t had any regular prescriptions ever.
    After much online research and misery, below is what I’ve done and it’s been months of clear after months of rash.
    40% zinc oxide cream applied before bed and once during the day. Beaudreaux’s Butt Paste.
    Violet extract applied multiple times in a 24 hour period. Herb farm flowering top.
    25 mg of zinc every day via supplement pill.
    10 billion CFU of acidophilus lactobacillus per day. Walgreens.
    Began cleansing my face with coconut oil with a few drops of carrot seed EO mixed in. When the rash was finally gone I cut down the applications of zinc and Violet to just once per day.
    And that’s it, I haven’t changed my diet or my toothpaste or my shampoo and I have not stopped drinking. I did not visit a dermatologist or doctor or take any antibiotics. I don’t wear much make up but when I do I am able to without having a flare up, providing I keep my routine going.
    Good luck everyone.

  28. I was looking for a non-steroid approach to eczema, and I have been using the Aloe & Jojoba Lotion from Made from Earth’s brand. This is the best one! It soaks in very well, and it moisturizes the skin very well. I directly put the Aloe & Jojoba Lotion on my face, hand, and hair too. My 1-year-old daughter had some rash recently and she was scratching her skin. I put this Made from Earth Aloe Lotion on her skin all over after the bath every day, and her rash and itchness were gone in two weeks. Try it – it will work for you too.

    • Glad that’s working for you, that’s great! I cured mine with a total overhaul in diet and supplements – probiotics and a Paleo diet. Cured from the inside out!

  29. Thank you so much for this post. It is the most useful post I have read regarding perioral dermatitis and I’ve found it so helpful. I struggle with this also, although not nearly as bad as you have and I admire you for all you have changed in your life to fix this! Well done. Mine started near the end of my first pregnancy but disappeared after I had my son, however with my second pregnancy it has been more difficult. She is 18 months old & I’m still struggling with it & am going to try your advice out, so thank you!! All the best,

  30. I just shared this blog post on our Facebook page. Thanks for sharing such helpful information with fellow sufferers. Glad you found our blog useful as well. I wish you all the best.

  31. Hi, Sara. I’m so sorry you had sufferend from such a severe bout of PD but am glad that you found the right treatment. My son has had it for a month, and various treatments seemed to help (or hurt) but not cure the PD. I finally took him to the Dr. a couple of days ago, and he Rx’d a rather expensive antibiotic cream, as he claimed with some authority in his voice that most PD is bacterial. I’m not convinced. The only thing I can glean from the internet is that perioral dermatitis is a rash around the mouth, and that apparently it has a lot of different causes and remedies. I read one woman’s story about how hers apparently was fungal and was effectively treated with a antifungal cream.

    The one thing that seemed to help is a calendula cream whose formula is no longer available, 🙁 The company changed it, and their so-called “improved” formula made our son’s PD worse. Right now we’re doing coconut oil and trying, with cautious optimism, this Rx’d Metronidazole.

    Thanks again for sharing your story. I’m going to look for some jojoba oil now too, and consider diet changes (my son gets eczema in the winter, on his hands, legs and arms).

    • Hi! Thank you for your comments, I do hope your son’s PD gets better! Have you tried diet changes? Ever since I went off the steroid cream and went off of gluten (though I do have some dairy now and again), the PD has never returned!

  32. I have suffer from dry skin and eczema and apply honey does work, as its an antiseptic. I know use a lotion with honey it in instead – i use the Made From Earth Holistic Honey Lotion – it smells gorgeous and has aided the clearing of my eczema wonderfully. It is quickly absorbed and I found had a soothing, cooling effect on my hand.

  33. Elizabeth says:

    I’m 36 years old and I’ve had severe PD for the past two years. It kinda got better when I stopped using fluoride toothpaste, make up, sulfates, moisturizers, etc. but never went away completely. 30 days ago(in the middle of a bad breakout – I had scaley, itchy, painful red blotches over and under my eyes and around my mouth) I started the Whole30 diet. I KID YOU NOT – by day four, there was not a TRACE of PD on my face!!! And now 30 days later, my skin hasn’t looked this good in years! If all else has failed you, please, please, please try Whole30 and see if it changes your life like it changed mine. PD is so debilitating and depressing, and I really hope this helps y’all too! I am a happy girl again, praise the Lord!

  34. LINDA REY says:

    I’m turning 50 this year, and my big gift? A vengeful recurrence of perioral dermititis.
    Thank you for this enlightening post including natural ingredients vs. oral and topical medications and chemicals.
    I first learned that a pyrithione zinc cleanser that is in dandruff shampoo.
    I thought this could be helpful with clearing it up fast, but after reading your post, I’m concerned about that approach.
    I like the apple cider vinegar, coconut and honey as remedies. I have all those now at home already!!!
    I think i’m suffering from a gluten sensitivity so will be making different choices, and also have eliminated fluoride toothpaste. Thank you!

    • Hi Linda! Oh, I’m so so sorry, I feel your pain. A lady just commented that she cured her PD with the Whole 30 diet! I highly recommend also looking into eating super clean as this really is an internal, gut problem.

  35. Thanks for all the great info! I found a lot of success calming down my PD with the Soothing Starter Set from Osmia Organics. It dramatically decreased my symptoms, but it wasn’t until I changed my diet that it practically disappeared! I recently indulged in a lot of sweets and alcohol on a bachelorette party weekend, and surprise, surprise… my PD is back in full force! Since I’m out of my Osmia products at the moment, I’m so thankful I happened upon your website. I look forward to trying some of your recommendations! I’m also considering trying out some neem oil. Have you ever used it for PD or eczema? Also, I was wondering where I can read part 2 of this post? I can’t seem to find it. Thanks again for all your help!!!

  36. Aodhan: waste management says:

    Three years into tsw withdrawal and doing well here. Sometimes good to read others experience.

  37. Hi Sara,

    I am glad to know that now you are completely fine after a long time suffering from your skin problem. Actually I want to say thank you so much for sharing this post with us. You know I also want to help those persons who are suffering from these problems and you have helped me via this post. So once again thanks.

    Wishing a great day.

  38. Hi Sara,

    Firstly I was worried when I was reading that you have suffered from a lot difficulties. But now I am happy that you are alright now. I know that anyone looks worse with eczema But every time use of cream is not a solution of it. With the use of any cream every time our skin indulged and then if we suddenly stop using that cream then it gives their side effects like on your face. So there is a best solution for all those problems is only home made products.

    Thanks:)

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