After Clearing My Perioral Dermatitis, I Feel Confident in My Skin Again

Amanda Cummerford

Byrdie / Amanda Cummerford

This is about one author's personal, anecdotal experience and should not substitute medical advice. If you're having health concerns of any kind, we urge you to speak to a healthcare professional.

I am 31 years-old, and in the last three years, I have experienced miscarriage, postpartum depression and anxiety, and perioral dermatitis. I didn’t think that any of these things would ever happen to me, but they all did.

There is so much I have to say, and I am writing this as a letter of hope because I wish someone would have said this to me when I was experiencing these lows. I want you to know that it gets better.  

I had relatively clear skin throughout my teenage years and 20s, just the occasional hormonal breakouts that happened each month. But as soon as I gave birth in September 2019, my skin started acting very strangely. These dry, red bumps suddenly appeared on my chin underneath my mouth, and then they spread upwards over three months. I thought it was hormonal acne because I recently had a baby.

As soon as I gave birth in September 2019, my skin started acting very strangely.

I decided the best course of action would be to wear makeup every day, so I would feel better about myself. At night, I would cleanse and exfoliate to try to get rid of the dry, red outer layer. I didn't know anything about skincare back then, but this is a perfect example of what not to do. 

Amongst my feelings of sadness towards my appearance, I was also diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety. It was hard to navigate life with a newborn that I so dearly wanted and my emotions (especially the guilt). My skin issues combined with a mental health battle were certainly a recipe for disaster. I knew I had to ask for help. 

Luckily, I had access to a psychiatrist who helped me with my depression and anxiety and a dermatologist that accurately diagnosed and treated my perioral dermatitis. I was relieved, surprised, and upset at myself when I was diagnosed with perioral dermatitis. I wasted so much time treating my skin inaccurately, and I made it worse in my effort to help myself. 

My dermatologist told me I shouldn't wear makeup until my skin healed, and that wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear.  I felt the least attractive I ever had with my red, dry face. The small amount of confidence I had left was gone in that instant. I was always that girl who loved makeup. My idea of fun was walking around Sephora and Mecca to check out new releases and swatch products. My identity felt very closely connected to my love for makeup, and this was just another thing being taken away. 

Feeling like I couldn't control elements of my life that I normally felt in control of threw me into such a spiral (and I've got a medical diagnosis to back that up). But I learned taking one step in front of another, blocking out things that don't matter, and doing whatever is required to get you through the uncomfortable period is worth it.

Amanda Cummerford

Byrdie / Amanda Cummerford

By April 2020, my perioral dermatitis cleared, and my postpartum depression and anxiety had improved significantly. I felt like my normal self again, and that was a feeling I didn't think I would ever return when I was at my lowest. 

I have learned a lot about myself and the confidence that comes with skin health. My skin doesn't always have to be clear because that's impossible. I still experience breakouts, dryness, and irritations, but I feel much more empowered now knowing how to care for my skin properly. I feel confident in my skin because I understand it and accept any imperfections.

I feel confident in my skin because I understand it and accept any imperfections.

My experience with perioral dermatitis ignited a huge passion for beauty. I used to work in marketing, but in July 2020, I started an Instagram page focused on sensitive skincare and makeup. I currently spend my days working as a beauty writer and content creator. 

It’s funny how life works out, and everything happens for a reason. I know it’s a cliche adage, but I think it’s true. Education is power, and I encourage you to learn as much about your skin and your body as you can because the confidence that comes with that is truly beautiful.

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