How to treat Perioral Dermatitis naturally

Perioral Dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition that usually sets up shop around the nose, mouth and eyes. If you suffer from this one, you know it is not nice. Its red, itchy, bumpy and scaly. One second your skin may be doing fine and the next, you get a flare up.

As with all skin conditions, we need to look at what is driving it. That's right, something is usually going on inside.

Before I treat, I need to know what is driving it. So let's break it down.

Causes of Perioral Dermatitis

Underlying bacterial or fungal infection

This is probably the most important factor with perioral dermatitis. Often it is driven by a fungal infection, although it may be a combination of both bacterial and fungal. This is why antibiotics are often prescribed. Whilst this may give some relief, it may also affect your microbiome, causing further digestive trouble down the line.

Common Symptoms

- Tinea - crackled, pealing and blistering on the feet

- Fingernail fungal infections

- Ringworm

- vaginal and/or oral thrush

- unexplained fatigue and tiredness

- lowered immunity

- recurrent urinary tract infections

- digestive issues, including constipation, diarrhoea, nausea, gas, cramps and bloating

How to treat a fungal infection

This is normally where I put my herbalist hat on. There are some great systemic anti-fungal herbs, that can have a great effect on perioral dermatitis.

Anti-fungal herbal work by inhibiting fungal growth. This in turn can help prevent tissue breakdown, inflammation and pain, as a result of a fungal overgrowth.

My top 3 are:

  • Pseudowintera colorata (Horopito)

  • Handroanthus impetiginosus (Pau d’arco)

  • Thymus vulgaris (Thyme)

Medium to long term treatment with these herbs will provide the best results. 3 - 6 months is ideal.

Nutrient deficiencies

Almost all skin conditions are associated with some form of nutrient deficiency. Whilst restoring these nutrients is important, we also need to look at why they were low in the first place. The main culprits commonly are poor diet or gastrointestinal issues that hinder absorption.

Common Deficiencies

  • Zinc

  • Essential fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6)

  • Vitamin A

How do I know if I am nutrient deficient?

Tuning in to body sign and symptoms can often give us a good picture of nutrient deficiencies.

Zinc deficiency signs/symptoms

  • decreased immunity

  • loss of smell/taste

  • depression

  • white spots on nails

  • lack of appetite

  • brain fog

  • diahorrea

  • poor night vision

Your doctor can also test your zinc levels via blood.

Essential Fatty Acid deficiency signs/symptoms

  • dry skin

  • dry/damaged hair

  • inability to feel full/constantly hungry

  • brain fog/trouble concentrating

  • dry eyes

  • constantly feeling cold

  • fatigue

Vitamin A deficiency signs/symptoms

  • dry skin

  • dry eyes

  • trouble seeing in the dark

  • acne/breakouts

  • recurrent chest infections

  • poor wound healing

We will talk supplements below, however the best way to get your nutrients is through your food.

Supplementing Zinc, Vitamin A and Essential Fatty Acids

Taking a supplement may be beneficial to get things back to normal. Once your skin starts to clear up, focus on getting your nutrients from your diet long term.

Zinc Citrate or Zinc Picolinate - 40mg daily (taken with food)

Fish Oils - 3 g/daily (equivalent to 360 mg DHA and 540 mg EPA)

Vitamin A - 5000IU daily

Too much of a good thing

Vitamin A and Zinc in excess can be dangerous. Be sure to always follow the advice of your trusted healthcare professional and avoid supplementing over long periods of time.

Prolonged periods of stress

Stress is a factor in many conditions. The more our bodies are exposed to it, the more we become run down. Stress management techniques are vital to long term results, however herbal supplementation can have a great affect.

If you are looking for some supplemental support try Withania, Holy Basil or Reishi mushroom.

Topical reactions to toothpaste, sunscreen or skincare

This is an easy one. With anyone suffering from this condition I would recommend checking everything you put on your face.


Fluoride is a common ingredient in toothpaste. Its benefits for your oral health are valid. Fluoride helps prevent oral decay BUT it can cause a reaction on your skin, especially if you get it all around your mouth whilst brushing. Opting for a fluoride free toothpaste may help with constant perioral dermatitis flare ups.

Do you have anything that has worked for you? Let me know in the comments below.