At the time of writing this article, it has been exactly five weeks since I began the “no” regime for my skin – basically doing nothing except splashing with lukewarm water when I wake up and using Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($11) at night.
I don’t use a single serum, cream, toner, primer, retinol, or exfoliator. I still use makeup (though I try to go as long as possible without it), because my dermatologist says makeup is considered “neutral” for perioral dermatitis. Most moisturizers and products with harsh ingredients will actively exacerbate and make it worse, but makeup itself is neutral.
My overall redness and irritation has gone down significantly, but I still wake up every single morning with new red bumps. Sometimes there are five, sometimes there are seven, and sometimes there are three times that. This morning, I woke up with a patch of eleven new red bumps on my chin, three on my right perioral fold, and four on my left. I am so sick and tired of my face looking and feeling this way, and have no idea what to do anymore except continue being gentle.
A few patterns I’ve noticed: drinking hot coffee makes it worse, toothpaste with sodium lauryl sulfate definitely makes it worse, and spray tans seem to bring on an outbreak (I am guessing due to chemicals).
I have read about all kinds of natural topicals for PD: from calendula cream to acacia honey, tea tree oil, and black clay. I would love to think there is some magical ingredient out there that holds the key to restoring the health of my skin – something that will balance the irritation and banish the clustered red bumps for good. I want to experiment, but the truth is that the state of my skin hangs in such a tenuous balance that I’m too scared to try applying tea tree oil, or diaper rash cream. I can’t risk an aggressive adverse reaction. My skin feels so delicate at the moment that my morning water-wash is about all it can take.