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Perioral Dermatitis and Pregnancy - Pt. 2 - Food Triggers

We know that what you put IN your body is as important as what you put ON it. The only way to learn your personal triggers is to pay attention to what you are putting on and in your body and then notice how your symptoms respond.

  • Spicy foods. This is a common one to watch. If you notice an increase in tingling, redness, painful new blisters or a spread of affected areas after a Thai curry with extra chilies or Taco Tuesday, then spicy food may be a trigger for you.

  • Caffeine. For the latte lover, this one is tragic. Caffeine appears to be a perioral dermatitis trigger for some people. While you're probably already limiting your caffeine intake during pregnancy, this is one to pay attention to. 

  • Salt, oil, acids.  These 3 triggers can all fall under the umbrella of things that go “ON” the skin in addition to “IN” the body. Greasy foods like fries and chips, acidic things like citrus and vinegar, salty things. All worth paying attention to when you're keeping a food diary. 

    Goodbye, shoestring french fries. It’s only for a little while.

  • Is there a yeast connection? There has been some discussion about whether or not perioral dermatitis is linked to candida. If you have a lot of yeast infections, thrush, or have previously dealt with candida overgrowth, it may be something you want to check out with your doctor, midwife or a nutritionist.

If you suspect there’s a link between your PD and certain foods, it is really worth investigating!

Which leads me to a couple of helpful suggestions.

  • Food based sources of probiotics*.  We know that the gut is linked to skin issues. You can get probiotic benefits from eating yogurt with active cultures, kefir, miso soup, pickled foods, and dark chocolate.
  • Food based sources of zinc*. Allergies allowing, you might add pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, spinach, chickpeas, shitaki mushrooms, and fresh green peas to your diet. Plus? Throw in some organic dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao. Shave some over a midnight snack of antioxidant rich strawberries, what’s not to love?

If you are struggling with perioral dermatitis and skin outbreaks during your pregnancy, it can really help to pay close attention to food-based triggers and increase foods that promote gut health.

Perioral dermatitis can be healed.

*Always run any dietary supplements past your midwife or doctor first. Some things can be toxic for you and/or baby at elevated levels.


Perioral Dermatitis and Pregnancy - Pt. 1

You wake up one morning and discover a strange, bumpy rash on your face.

Perioral dermatitis during pregnancy affects many women. It can feel unsightly and lead to feelings of depression and unhappiness. Managing perioral dermatitis is possible. 

Maybe it’s next to your mouth or between your lips and nose. It might extend down to your chin or even around your eyes. You’re not sure what it is, but you dab a little steroid cream on it and it goes away, only to return when you stop. Except this time it’s worse. SO much worse. It might burn, it itches, and it seems like every single thing you do just makes it worse.

Perioral dermatitis is a skin condition - a kissing cousin to rosacea and eczema - affecting primarily women of childbearing age, though you can also see it in children. Most often it just starts flaring up for unknown reasons, very often during pregnancy or other times of hormonal fluctuation. While non-contagious in nature, perioral dermatitis can be unsightly and it is very stressful. The last thing you want to deal with - ever - is a painful, bright red, bumpy face rash, right?

Let me validate you, here. Perioral dermatitis can feel like the end of the world.  

I had my first bout with this in 1991, while pregnant with my first daughter. My midwife mis-diagnosed it, and the treatment she recommended made it oh, so much worse. Once it cleared up, I was so happy. But just like the Cat in the Hat, perioral dermatitis comes back. It came back with a vengeance during my second pregnancy, and I’ve experienced several more bouts over the years.  The first, and most important thing I learned was this: 

While steroid creams are the cure of choice for many forms of dermatitis, perioral dermatitis is not one of them.

Using steroids will make it go away for a short period, and then it will come back 3x worse than before. Just don’t use them. 

It's really important to let your dermatologist and/or primary care doctor know that you are pregnant, as tetracycline antibiotics are contra-indicated for  the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy.  The most common treatment for this condition is to prescribe tetracycline antibiotics for a period of several months. Obviously, you are going to want to ask your doctor to help you find alternative treatments that are safe for both you and baby. 

In my own personal journey with perioral dermatitis, I have found a few things to be helpful and I'm listing them here as things you might want to explore or talk about with your doctor. 

  1. Skip the cover up. 
    I know you want to cover it up with makeup. Don’t. Go clean-faced for a while. Makeup can just irritate it more. 

  2. Read the labels on all of your skincare products. 
    There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), glycols, fluoride, and parabens can irritate and worsen PD.  You might want to eliminate them. Look for SLS free products that have been formulated for skin conditions like eczema, acne and rosacea. Whatever you use, you want to find something gentle and non-irritating. 

  3. Toothpaste, especially whitening toothpaste, is a suspected trigger for PD.  
    During pregnancy, great dental hygiene is super important, so don't stop brushing your teeth! There are some great non SLS/fluoride free toothpastes available on the market.  Talk to your dentist and make sure your choice of alternative products are supporting your best dental health. 

  4.  Shampoo can affect PD. 
    Consider going to a gentle, SLS and sulfate free, no-poo regimen while your skin heals and even after. There are some fantastic options available now, thanks to all the curly girls out there. 

  5. Perioral dermatitis likes to be left alone.
    Don’t touch it or rub it. It just makes it hurt, and look, worse. Plus, it spreads faster.

  6. Food can be a trigger for some people. 
    You know your body best, so if you feel like something you are eating is having an adverse effect on your PD, make a note and try eliminating it. Obviously, if a suspected trigger food is an important source of something you need during pregnancy, you will want to find an alternative. Look for a second blog post on common food triggers, coming next week! 

  7. Pay close attention. 
    Keep a product and food diary. You will begin to see patterns. 

Perioral dermatitis can take several months to fully heal, but once you've eliminated your triggers, it does go away. With the right care, you can soothe the burn and keep it from being too angry looking while you’re in the healing phase. It’s important to treat yourself with patience, compassion and care while you’re healing. With perseverance, I promise you will get through this!

You aren't alone.

A quick word of warning:

Google wisely! 

Supplements: There are some supplements that are commonly recommended to treat perioral dermatitis. They can be very toxic for your baby and for you too, at the wrong dosage - or at all. ALWAYS double and triple check these with your doctor before you take anything. 

Essential oils: EO's are powerful chemicals. Please don't ingest or put EO's directly on your skin or your child's skin. You can set yourself up for lifelong problems, including sensitization, allergies and organ failure. If you are considering essential oil use, please talk to your physician or midwife and also seek a consultation with a qualified professional - a certified or clinical aromatherapist - who has trained through a reputable and accredited program, not a random "wellness advocate" from an MLM company. 

Your health, and that of your baby are too important to risk. 

(Originally posted at Great Valley Doula.)



Three "Must Haves" For Every Pregnant Person

Every baby magazine and website on the planet has a list of “must haves.” From fancy creams, essential oils, bags, clothes and baby products, everyone has their favorite.  

I've boiled it down a little bit more to my three most essential things for every pregnant person.

A positive attitude can have a tremendous affect on your pregnancy, labor and birth outcome.  

1. A good sense of humor.  You’re going to need one.

Pregnancy is fraught with change, both physiological and emotional. Changing hormones, a changing body, it’s a roller coaster! There are days where if you don’t find something to laugh about, you might cry. And there days when you will cry anyway.  Heartburn, morning sickness, a sudden aversion to your favorite snacks, no sushi for 9 months, and baby rolling on your bladder 2 stops away from home on the subway; all of these things are temporary, but they can also be inconvenient, frustrating, and very uncomfortable.

Don’t talk yourself out of the very real feelings you will experience during your pregnancy.

Give yourself the space to simply experience what is real for you, good, bad, easy, hard, conflicted... It makes the ups and downs of making a tiny human just a little bit easier.  

2. A Reliable source of take-out and well-stocked snacks.

You don't always have the energy to run down to the corner bodega or go pick up an order of 9pm egg rolls. Having a reliable, pre-planned source of take-out during your pregnancy is key. When you want Thai food, you want it now, right? 

It’s also really handy if you think ahead each week and pre-stock your favorite pregnancy snacks. Whether that’s pre-slicing veggies, bagging up smoothie fixings, making up a batch of fresh, healthy salsa, or making sure your favorite ice cream is in the freezer.  By planning ahead you’ll be more apt to make healthy choices, plus you'll feel less deprived and grouchy when you’re peckish and wanting a nibble of something right now. And if you're planning ahead, you might just think about putting some healthy (well, healthier anyway) egg rolls or chicken satay in the freezer for those days when a smoothie just won't do. 

A healthy berry smoothie is a wonderful pregnancy pick me up and can contribute to your prenatal nutrition. 

3. A pregnancy buddy. Someone who is there for you through it all.

It really helps when there’s someone you can call, day or night, with questions and concerns, or when pregnancy anxiety has you fretting. It’s nice to know you have someone who will squeal at the tiny jammies you just bought and get excited that you bought your first box of newborn diapers.  That stuff is fun and believe me, you need that joyful, fun support just as much as you need support for the tough stuff. Could be your bestie, your mom, your sister, and... it could also be a doula.  

It helps to know you have the rock-solid support of someone who won’t judge the choices you make for yourself or your baby.

It helps to know that you have someone in your corner who isn’t going to put in their $.02 unless you ask for it. Who, even then, is going to keep the conversation centered around what you think is best for you and your family, not their opinion. That’s what doulas do. We’re there for you, when you need a laugh, a shoulder, wisdom, support, or just a ready ear.  Your doula is going to be excited to hear that you found a super cute Doctor Who onesie or bought a car seat and your doula will be there for you if you just need an ear because your sense of humor is faltering. Your doula will help you B.R.A.I.N through important decisions and help you with research to find the resources you need, when you need them.

And who knows? Your doula might even bring you egg rolls…


Together We Stand

This woman owned, small business supports the LGBTQIA+ community, Black Lives Matter, supports the rights of immigrants and the rights of indigenous people, religious freedoms, civil rights, and this business will always stand for the simple truth that women are PEOPLE who have the fundamental right to reproductive choice.  

As your doula, I will always support your right to advocate for yourself, with your own voice and in your own words.