The Weird Thing That Finally Fixed My Skin

The answer was in my pantry all along.

By: Laurel Pantin
Styling: Meagan Wilson
Photography: Jake Rosenberg

Every two years, around February or March, a weird rash appears around my nose and mouth like clockwork. It’s not itchy or painful, but it is ugly, and it really bothers me. “Perioral dermatitis” doesn’t really mean anything beyond “skin irritation around your mouth,” and its the blanket term for the problem. My derms (plural, because I’ve been to many about this issue) have never been able to give me a clear idea as to why it happens—some people think it’s the surfactants in your toothpaste, so I switched to one without any, and it didn’t help. It could be weather-related, or stress (maybe it’s not a coincidence that it pops up around the busiest time of year for us, what with fashion month and awards season). I don’t know—and to be honest, I don’t care! I just want it gone.

In the past, a combination of a light topical antibiotic that’s used to treat rosacea and a light oral antibiotic cleared it up. But this year, no dice. The problem popped up right before SXSW and persisted well through March, ultimately getting worse. It looked like there was a red ring around the outside of my mouth and my chin that was dotted with itty bitty little zits (ew), and it would not fucking go away.

Anyway, one frustrated evening I did the thing you’re never supposed to do when you have a mysterious skin affliction: I Googled it. I read page after page about perioral dermatitis and how bad it can get, secretly rejoicing that mine seemed to be a mild case (relatively speaking; to me it was major), and then finally I found a blogger who seemed to have the exact same case as me. She wasn’t sure why she got it, and it wouldn’t go away, even with a prescription. The thing that finally did the trick? A combination of Bragg’s Raw Apple Cider Vinegar and Lotrimin foot cream.

Yes, the most evil thing Cady Heron could imagine doing to Regina George was what I was going to try—foot cream on my face. As it turns out, the problem was fungus. Again, on my face. The thought of it triggers my gag reflex—fungus… But surprise, surprise, it’s working.

More interesting than the Lotrimin, however, is the raw apple cider vinegar. I’ve mixed equal parts ACV with water in a little squirt bottle, and I’ve been using it all over my face as a toner twice daily. It smells god-awful, but my skin—and not just in the “perioral” region—has honestly never looked better. It’s clearer, brighter, and any other little baby zits are totally gone. I’ve been following it all up with seaberry oil from Sibu (a miracle product that is loaded with antioxidants and claims to cure all skin ailments, including wrinkles—bless), and I’m kind of blown away by the results. This is coming from someone who has literally tried every single expensive face product on the market. Every. Single. One.

So if you, like me, are searching “perioral dermatitis cures” late at night and alone in bed, give this a shot and let me know how it goes. Or if you’re just looking for something inexpensive and super, super effective, try ACV as a toner. Your significant other will likely hate it, and you might catch unwanted whiffs of it throughout the day, but I promise, your skin will glow.

It should be noted that I am, in fact, not a doctor; therefore, please consult one if you have a weird skin irritation (or any medical problem) before starting a home treatment. I maybe just got lucky.


Photo: Shot on site at 6 Columbus, a Sixty Hotel; On Jonelle: Necklace, Baker & Black; Rings, Catbird; Hair, Angela Soto; Makeup, Andriani.