What is perioral dermatitis?
What you might think is acne or rosacea might well turn out to be perioral dermatitis, particularly if the creams you’ve been using to manage your skin aren’t having an effect! The three conditions can look pretty similar at first glance, but have different causes and respond to different treatments.
Perioral dermatitis is, as its name suggests, irritated skin specifically around the mouth and nose; it appears as inflamed, dry or flaky patches, spots or bumpy skin in smile lines, on the chin, under the nose and at the corners of your mouth. Perioral dermatitis can be really persistent and hard to shift, and yes, it often gets worse in the winter.
Why does cold weather make perioral dermatitis worse?
Like many inflammatory skin conditions, perioral dermatitis is often the result of more than one factor that causes skin to become - and remain - irritated. It’s also the case that different people’s skin reacts to different irritants or triggers, and will respond to different management strategies. This makes getting to the bottom of what’s going on and actually clearing it up quite a challenge!
However, cold weather affects skin in quite a straightforward way: the drop in temperature and humidity causes skin to lose moisture to the air, making it drier and more easily damaged. This in turn results in a more easily irritated and less resilient skin barrier, which is more likely to react to irritants in your toiletries, makeup and anything you put on your skin.
If you add the drying effect of central heating and moisture-stripping strong wind to the drier, colder air of winter, you have a recipe for fragile, reactive, sensitive skin. So if you’re already susceptible to perioral dermatitis, your skin is more likely to flare up in colder months.
What can you do to protect your skin from perioral dermatitis?
If you know you’re more vulnerable to perioral dermatitis in winter, it’s sensible to do as much as possible to protect yourself from the things that might trigger a flare-up. These triggers vary from person to person, but include topical steroid creams, ingredients in moisturisers, fluoride toothpaste, makeup, comedogenic oils, strong wind and UV light, sugary food, stress.
While some of these triggers are present all-year-round, others are worse in winter. Here are some tips for minimising the likelihood of a perioral dermatitis flare in winter:
Protect your skin: apply a layer of oil-based balm (such as Skin Salvation) to your face before you go out, to reduce the moisture-stripping effects of the wind and dry air.
Be careful what you put on your face: avoid products with synthetic perfumes, SLS, and other irritant ingredients. Swap out soap for gentle, unperfumed, SLS-free washes such as Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash.
Steer clear of comedogenics: check that the oils and balms you’re using on your face are light and won’t clog pores. (Balmonds products are all low comedogenic, even our balms, so they should be fine!)
Use stress management strategies: do whatever works for you to manage your stress and anxiety, because the effect on your skin can be profound.
Keep a food trigger diary: what you eat can affect your skin, and your skin can be more sensitive to triggers in winter than in summer, so keep an eye on things like alcohol, sugar, fatty food, etc., to see if it makes a difference to your perioral dermatitis.
Keep things clean: perioral dermatitis is often aggravated by microbes, whether yeasts infections, bacteria or mites. Keeping your skin clean and protected with naturally antimicrobial oils can help protect against a further flare-up; try Balmonds Scalp Oil (which contains tea tree, rosemary, borage and nettle), or our Tea Tree balm on skin prone to getting dry or itchy.
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash
with calendula & chamomile
Balmonds Tea Tree Balm
balm with tea tree essential oil and beeswax
Balmonds Scalp Oil
with tea tree, nettle, borage & rosemary
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.