Dry, cracked lips
Dry, cracked lips are a big drag. From full-on dry and chapped lips to contained inflammation and fissures at mouth corners (aka. oral commissures), wearing lipstick becomes a memory; even kissing can become a memory. Frustration and discomfort intensify as cracks in skin’s protective barrier lead to infection, blisters, crusting and bleeding, particularly with fissures at mouth corners called angular cheilitis. Wickedly, angular cheilitis even exaggerates the appearance of marionette lines!
WHY DRY, CRACKED LIPS ARE SO COMMON
Our delicate skinned, constantly moving mouths and colder, drier weather provide the perfect storm for lip issues. Add lip licking, saliva buildup and masks, the situation avalanches.
Saliva basically rinses away the lip’s lipid barrier. The lipid barrier keeps the protective barrier strong. This breakdown of protection and lack of moisture, coupled with constant movement and stretching, crack skin, irritate lips, and open them up to potential infection – bacterial, viral and yeast.
Environmental – cold weather, wind, sunburn, dry climates, heaters
Habits – mouth breathing, lack of water consumption, lip licking, neglecting to moisturize and protect lips from sun exposure.
Internal – poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies, particularly, the B’s (B1, B2, B3), lack of water consumption, generally sensitive skin, systemic illnesses (particularly those associated with bowels: IBS, colitis, Crohn).
Some topical and oral medications, particularly retinoids (ie. oral retinoids for acne and psoriasis, topical retinoids for aging and acne), systemic use of corticosteroids or antibiotics.
Allergies and irritants (aka. contact cheilitis) – some lip products and lipsticks, over-exfoliation, tartar control toothpaste, some candies and gum.
Oral – dentures, braces, gum disease, chronic drooling.
Anatomical – particularly downturned lips and deep lip corners, allowing saliva to pool at corners.
Generally dry skin. If you are a drier skin type, you’ll likely battle dry lips too. Sorry.
PREVENTION IS KEY
As we all know, prevention is key to a whole host of skin and health issues.
1. Stop licking lips. Seriously, stop it! The temporary comfort of lip licking is not worth the consequences.
2. Stop peeling and biting lips.
3. Stay hydrated, internally and externally. Drink plenty of H2O. Moisturize.
4. Eat a well-balanced diet.
5. Per AAD, ingredients to AVOID in lip products include: camphor, eucalyptus, fragrance, lanolin, menthol, phenol, propyl gallate, salicylic acid.
6. Ingredients to LOOK FOR in lip products include: ceramides, castor seed oil, petrolatum jelly, shea butter, mineral oil, other hypoallergenic and fragrance free products.
7. Use thick occlusive ointments such as good ole Vaseline, CeraVe Healing Ointment, Aquaphor, consistently and generously. Always use them before bed, particularly if you drool or mouth breathe. Ointments prevent moisture loss better than waxy balms and oils.
Super protection and healing tip: Layer Epionce Anti-Aging Lip Renewal under an occlusive ointment mentioned above.
8. Zinc oxide is awesome for sun protection.
9. Use humidifiers at home. Heaters and cozy fires dry out lips.
10. Hyaluronic lip fillers really, truly help in preventing dry lips. HA fillers are hydrophilic. Hydrophilic means it bonds with water – about 1000 times its weight in water when it comes to Juvederm products. Fillers can also prevent saliva pooling in mouth corners when used to fill and lift this area. Fillers also keep your lips looking youthful.
11. Botox in DAO’s – the muscle group pulling down mouth corners. Uplifting those downturned lip corners with Botox keeps you feeling good and looking good.
WHEN TO CALL YOUR DERMATOLOGIST
Call your dermatologist when your lips are inflamed, bleeding or cracked. You may need a medication, such as a steroid, anti-viral or antifungal, to use in conjunction with an occlusive ointment. You also may need to properly address any vitamin deficiency or allergy.
AVOID OTC antibiotics such as Neosporin, Bacitracin, Polysporin. Topical OTC antibiotics can worsen the situation with additional allergic reactions.
STOCK UP and START USING lip treatments and occlusive ointments now. As they say, “An ounce of prevention…”