Lip Service

Things get dry when the temperature drops, and that means chapped lips.  They’re cracked, patchy, painful, raw and, let’s face it, totally unattractive. But, hold on! Before you go reaching for any old waxy lip balm, there are a few things you absolutely must know.

Chapped lips, also called common chelitis, are most often the result of a wet-dry cycle that starts with licking your lips – other frequent causes include dehydration, extreme weather conditions, sun damage, smoking, and allergies.

Unfortunately, some lip balms only make chapped matters worse by sealing out moisture when it’s needed most. No worries, keep a stiff upper lip. Here are plenty of fabulous lip-tips to keep your kisser healthy all season long.

 

Above all, stop licking your lips. Resist the urge. Saliva contains digestive enzymes that damage the outermost protective layer on your lips, the stratum conreum. That’s why excessively licking your chops will dry them out.

Never bite or peel flaking skin on your lips. When you rip off those annoying lip flakes, you also rip off the superficial epidermis and expose the deeper layer of skin, the dermis, which leads to cracks, bleeding, oozing lesions and possible secondary infections. Besides, it’s gross. Cease and desist!

Exfoliate regularly. There are endless brands of lip scrubs available in stores to help safely and easily remove dead skin. Even a simple DIY lip scrub can be made at home. Combine one teaspoon each of brown sugar, olive oil, and honey, and then leave on lips for two minutes before rinsing off. This mixture softens lips and helps slough away dead skin cells because the honey contains gluconic acid, which is a mild alpha hydroxy acid that helps rejuvenate depleted skin cells. Honey is pretty cool stuff, and it’s delish too.

Know your balm. Did you know that many petroleum and wax based lip balms leave a watertight barrier that virtually suffocates lips further contributing to dryness and peeling? Words like balm, ointment and salve are sometimes used interchangeably when it comes to lip balms, so read ingredients carefully.

Moisturize lips generously. Look for products containing shea butter and coconut oil that will nourish lips with the moisture they need – and don’t forget the sunscreen.

Keep it to yourself. No sharing. It may be tempting to share your personal lip products with a friend, but don’t do it. Transferring germs can be really bad news, especially when it comes to cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus. Throw out your lip product if you develop a cold sore. Replace it to prevent reinfection that could result in additional cold sores.

Avoid irritants. Some chemicals can actually cause chapped lips. Cinnamates is an additive that can be highly irritating to sensitive lips and can be found in toothpaste, mouthwash, and candy. Even certain foods and cosmetics can exacerbate an already chapped situation. Again, read ingredients – beware of pepper, menthol and mint.

Consider medications. Medications like pseudoephedrine works to purposely dry mucous membranes and Accutane is infamous for dry lips. If your lips are chapped on a regular basis, check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of the medications you take could be the cause of your lip grief.

See a dermatologist if chapping persists. Especially if cracks appear at the corners of your mouth, a condition called angular chelitis.  Consistently dry lips can be a sign of various medical conditions including vitamin deficiency, fungal infection, anemia, hypothyroidism, dermatitis, psoriasis, Sjogren’s syndrome and skin cancer.

Those chapped lips sneak up on you! Before it gets too cold, prepare your pucker by stocking up on proper lip moisturizer. Listen to what your lips are telling you and pay a little lip service to your health.

Have a happy heath everything!