Natural perioral dermatitis treatment

A natural approach to perioral dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis is a skin condition that causes spots and a rash that often forms around the mouth, but can appear anywhere on the face and body. The condition is caused by steroids. Here’s how to deal with it naturally.

What is perioral dermatitis?

Perioral dermatitis is a skin condition that causes small red spots or bumps on the face. These lumps can be itchy and sore – but itching it can make the condition worse.

Appearing on the face, people with perioral dermatitis can find it embarrassing, with some developing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

What causes perioral dermatitis?

The common causes of Perioral dermatitis include:

  • Steroid creams on the face
  • Steroid inhalers in children
  • Fluoride toothpaste
  • Sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate (foaming agent) in toothpaste and hair care products
  • Mineral oils in beauty products (petroleum and paraffin derived emollients)
  • Stress (this is a big one, from causation to long-term management)
  • Immune function (people with overactive or underactive immunity may develop PD)
  • Diet (food intolerances may manifest as skin issues)

Treating perioral dermatitis is difficult, Mainstream treatments include powerful antibiotics like tetracycline.

Here are some pointers on how you can take a natural approach to deal with perioral dermatitis.

Stop using steroid creams

Clearly ceasing use of any prescription medicine should be discussed with you GP, however many respectable bodies including The The British Association of Dermatologists clearly state that steroids creams are a cause of perioral dermatitis.

Stop using cosmetics?

The British Association of Dermatologists also advise stopping use of all face creams and cosmetics, although they also say to use an unperfumed moisturiser if skin is dry.  

At Lyonsleaf we were discovered by a perioral dermatitis facebook group who raved about our calendula cream. They said they used a zinc cream (like sudocrem) alongside of it. We responded by creating our 100% natural Zinc and Calendula Cream and since have received many five star reviews from customers with perioral dermatitis. We soon realised customers with perioral dermatitis were using our zinc product alongside our Beauty Balm, which can be used in to cleanse and remove makeup using the oil cleansing method. Over the years have had a handful of people who have reacted to the Beauty Balm (we suspect the allergens in the fragrance oils, particularly benzoin resin may be responsible). We again responded and created an unfragranced version to suit very sensitive skin. You can now buy the Zinc and Calendula Cream and The Beauty Balm as a set: Lyonsleaf Perioral Dermatitis, Rosacea and Acne Skincare system and choose which version of the Beauty Balm you require. You can also buy samples of all three products via their individual product pages.

We read many blogs and articles suggesting heavy moisturisers are not good for PD, and our 100% oil products could be described as heavy. However, our oils are all non-comedogenic and they seem to suit many people with this condition. We do sell samples so you can try without splashing out a lot of money. We think the heavy oils to avoid are mineral oils derived from petroleum and paraffin which are notorious for blocking pores - a big no-no for perioral dermatitis and acne prone skin. When trying any new skincare product we strongly advise doing a patch test it is possible to be allergic to natural ingredients, although we find this is very rare.

We also advise to avoid using any cosmetics with artificial chemicals and to keep any skin care routine as simple as possible. If you do need to wear make up a good quality mineral foundation is far better than a cheap high street one.

You can learn more about how your skin works at our How your Skin Works page.

Fluoride toothpaste

The relationship between fluoride and perioral dermatitis hasn’t been widely researched, but many people have found that replacing fluoridated toothpaste with an alternative has had benefits for their skin. Fluoride-free toothpaste is freely available from health food shops without prescription. Obviously you need to consider your teeth and you may want to talk to your dentist. 

Check for SLS

Many have suggested that a cause of perioral dermatitis could be sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), a chemical compound that is used in cosmetics to produce foam. SLS can be found in toothpaste and other cosmetic products. You may need to look hard at the label, but eliminating products with SLS from your daily life may improve your skin and reduce the impact of perioral dermatitis. Consider your hair products too, if your hair is brushing your face and you are reacting to ingredients it can cause breakouts. Consider this particularly if the problem areas are just where you hair makes contact.

You should also take care to avoid other skin irritants that may make your perioral dermatitis worse. Check out our dedicated skin- irritants page for ideas.


It’s important to look at your diet to see if there are any potential triggers for perioral dermatitis . Specifically, consider reducing or removing these foods and drinks from your diet:

  • cinnamon
  • gluten
  • alcohol
  • black tea
  • coffee
  • processed foods
  • sugar and starchy carbs

You may find that hot and spicy foods make your condition worse, so avoid them if this is the case.

The advice from professionals is to enjoy a diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables. You must eat your greens, with leafy vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals that your skin needs to rebuild and recover.

It may be worth considering taking a probiotic every day to rebalance your gut. Doing so can introduce significant amounts of ‘good’ bacteria, counteracting any build-up of harmful bacteria that can cause skin conditions.

Taking a probiotic can support the growth of healthy bacteria in our bodies. They can be found in ‘live’ products like yoghurt, or in more concentrated forms as supplements.

Probiotics give the gut a welcome boost, providing a balance between healthy and unhealthy bacteria. They’re cheap and readily available, and definitely worth trying to see if they work for you.

There may be a link between a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates and candida, so it’s worth considering whether to alter your diet to improve protection. Scientists are only just waking up to the impact of leaky gut on skin health and wellbeing. Read our leaky gut page to learn more about the relationship between your internal health and external glow.

If you are experiencing issues with your skin or need some advice on your diet, then speak to a qualified nutritionist. They can understand any deficiencies in your diet and provide you with a personalised diet plan that can ensure you are getting the vitamins and minerals that you need.

Birth control pills

Birth control pills change the hormone balance within the body which it is thought, in some people, can cause perioral dermatitis. Of course deciding to stop taking birth control pills is a big step that shouldn't be taken lightly. Perioral dermatitis can also be linked to other hormonal changes like puberty and menopause, so taking actions to balance hormones might help. There are many herbal and medical paths to help here. Doing your own research or talking to a herbalist, natropath or your GP may help.


Like many skin conditions, perioral dermatitis can become much worse when you are stressed. Learn about the relationship between our inbuilt mechanisms for dealing with stress and skin health .

You need to find time for you, to relax and de-stress. We all do this in different ways, but yoga, meditation or simple wellness programmes can give you a new perspective on your life. Also, stop worrying about the world and focus on doing the things you love - hobbies, walking, spending time with your family and friends. Doing the things you love can reduce stress and improve wellbeing.

Essential links

Here are some links to interesting resources we hope you might find useful: