Chapped Lips

At this time of year every year I get chapped lips. I find myself licking them to moisten and trying to pick off the dry flaky skin on my lips. All this exasperates the issue!

So why do the lips get chapped?

The lips do not contain any sebaceous or sweat glands and the skin is much thinner and more sensitive than other areas. The winter weather tends to be less humid, so any moisture in the skin is quickly evaporates. In areas like the lips that do not produce their own moisture dry out rapidly making them flake, chapped and eventually sore.

It is very tempting to start liking your dry lips in the hope of moisturising them with your own saliva. This will give temporary relief, however, the as the saliva evaporates it just compounds the problem and makes the dryness worse.
What is the best course of care and preventative action?

As soon as your lips start to feel a little dry (or there is a sudden chill to the air) you need to up your lip care game.

• Lip balm: carry this everywhere you go and reapply continuously throughout the day. If you feel yourself licking your lips apply the lip balm. Try to avoid the flavoured ones as these can encourage more licking.
• Don’t share lip balms: this can result in cross contamination and infection – Yuk!
• Keep Hydrated: because more moisture is lost from the skin you also need to replace it from within. Upping your water intake will really help.
• Cover up: when going outside and exposing yourself to sudden environmental changes (inside to outside) try your best to protect your lips with a physical barrier, for example your scarf or coat collar.
• Humidifier: as the humidity drops in cold weather, it helps to humidify the air. You can do this by the use of a humidifier or simply a bowl of water placed next to your radiator. This will help prevent the air from drawing the moisture out of you.
• Licking and biting: as I mentioned earlier habitual licking exasperates the problem and picking or biting the loose skin will result in your lips getting very sore, even bleeding or becoming infected.
• Avoid mouth breathing: if you a mouth breather you are more prone to chapped lips.

Salon treatments and other homecare:

• Cleanser: use a mild cleanser to remove any build up of lip stick and lip balm.
• Exfoliate: the use of a gentle exfoliator will help remove the dead flaky skin and reduce the temptation the pick, bite and nibble the lips.
• Moisturize: use a hydrating, nourishing moisturizer and supplement with a lip balm throughout the day.

If the lips become swollen, painful, hot and red you will need to seek medical advice.

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