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Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to Treat And Prevent Dry Cracked Lips?!

What are cracked lips?
Cracked lips are a symptom in which the lips are dry, peeling or chapped. Breaks may appear on the surface, and the lips may become painful and may bleed. Loss of moisture in lip skin causes chapped lips.
In most cases, cracked lips are not caused by a serious condition and do not pose any health risks.
Often, you may be able to correct your cracked lips with healthy habits such as regularly applying lip balm, using sunscreen when spending time outdoors, and drinking plenty of water.

 What causes cracked lips?
Cracked lips are usually a mild symptom that occurs as a result of environmental factors, personal habits such as licking your lips, or conditions such as mild dehydration and the common cold. Cracked lips are rarely a sign of a severe condition.

1-Environmental causes of cracked lips

Cracked lips may be caused by environmental conditions including:
  • Cold weather
  • Dry weather
  • Indoor heating
  • Sun damage
  • Wind exposure

2-Other common causes of cracked lips

Cracked lips may also be caused by:
  • Allergic reaction to lip products such as lipstick or lip balm
  • Medications could be a factor. Suspect any newly started medications as the potential source of irritation.
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Due to the thyroid hormone imbalances
  • Canker sores
  • Cold sores (herpes simplex virus infections)
  • Common cold (viral respiratory infection)
  • Mild dehydration
  • Repeated licking of the lips
  • Vitamin deficiency (B vitamins)
  • Chapped lips can also be triggered by your hypersensitivity to a new lipstick, in which case throw it into the garbage and never buy any product of the same brand again

3-Serious or life-threatening causes of cracked lips

Rarely, cracked lips associated with a medical emergency. However, cracked lips may be a sign of  severe dehydration (loss of body fluids and electrolytes)and electrolyte imbalances that can result in shock or coma and may be life threatening. Seek prompt medical care if your cracked lips are persistent or cause you concern.

Questions for diagnosing the cause of cracked lips

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your cracked lips including:
  • How long have you experienced cracked lips?
  • Do your cracked lips worsen when you use certain lip products, such as lipstick?
  • Are you experiencing any other symptoms along with your cracked lips?
  • Are your cracked lips becoming worse or more frequent?

What are the potential complications of cracked lips?

Cracked lips are generally harmless and do not produce long-term complications. Damage to the lips from irritation may predispose you to the development of secondary bacterial or fungal infections.  Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications.
Although these complications are rare with cracked lips, left untreated, severe dehydration can lead to serious consequences including:
  • Acute renal (kidney) failure
  • Bacterial infections
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Fungal infections

Mouth symptoms that may occur along with cracked lips

Cracked lips may accompany other symptoms affecting the mouth including:
  • Bleeding
  • Canker sores
  • Cold sores (herpes simplex virus infections)
  • Dry mouth
  • Hoarse voice
  • Redness, warmth or swelling

Other symptoms that may occur along with cracked lips

Cracked lips may accompany symptoms related to other body systems. These may include:
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • General ill feeling
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Stuffy nose or nasal condition

20 Ways To Cure And Prevent Dry Lips

The irritation of chapped lips often escalates from a small cosmetic issue into a persistant painful condition, sending one on the endless pursuit of soothing comfort.
The change of seasons, with overnight fluctuations in temperatures and humidity, often ushers in weeks of discomfort for many children and adults.
  1. Use lip balms with cocoa butter and/or beeswax. Examine lips balm ingredients very carefully as some components of “medicated” lip balms can actually act as irritants (see step 7 below).
  2. Use a multivitamin supplement daily as chapped lips could indicate a nutritional deficiency.
  3. Eat foods high in calcium, magnesium and flaxseed oil Calcium rich foods include milk, yogurt, cheese, beans, and salmon. Almonds and tofu are very high as well. Combine calcium intake with magnesium (seek out legumes, nuts, whole grains and vegetables) and flax seed oil. These three ingredients are proven to aid in the healing of lip surfaces.
  4. Drink more than the recommended 8 glasses of water a day (experts recommend 100 ounces of more per day for chapped lips), preferably heated. Sipping hot water or decaffeinated tea slowly, throughout the day, dilates the circulatory system and will increase moisture to the tissues.
  5. Avoid caffeine and alcohol which are major tissue dehydrators.
  6. Avoid flavored lip balms which can cause more frequent lip licking, increasing the degree of chapping.
  7. Avoid phenol and camphor which are often found in lip balms. Phenol is a mild anesthetic and camphor adds a cooling, tingling sensation which in the short term may bring temporary relief but could irritate already sensitive lip tissues.
  8. Treat chaffed, chapped and scaling lips overnight with a homemade ointment mixed from 1 tsp glycerine, 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp castor oil. Spread on lips overnight, refrigerating the leftovers for future use.
  9. Add humidifiers to your home. Lips, hair, nails and skin all thrive in humidified air.
  10. Add a coat, when you wear a coat - Keep lips shielded against the elements with a coat of petroleum jelly, balm (non flavored, without phenol or camphor) or Aquaphor ointment (a celebrity favorite).
  11. Goose or Duck Fat:  Our grandmothers used goose or duck fat to facilitate the healing of chapped lips. Those are truly wonderful remedies, so next time when you are making a roast duck with apples, do not discard the fat, but keep it in the fridge as a traditional medicine. If you do not have any, do not despair coconut oil, or olive oil, or shea butter, will work great, as well. Apply frequently until your lips heal.
  12.  No Alcohol: Do not use any gel, balm, or lipstick that contain alcohol, they for sure will worsen the condition and will make your chapped lips feel even dryer and more painful. Use only natural remedies. A good rule is to put on your lips only edible ingredients (this rule also works well for any other body care products.
  13. No Hot, Spicy, Salty: Abstain from eating any hot, spicy, or salty foods for as long as your lips are still dry, cracked, and painful.
  14. Stay Home: Avoid going outside if the weather is dry and windy. If you must, use a generous amount of natural oil to protect your lips from unfriendly environment.
  15. Be patient:  It may take up to a week for your lips to heal completely.
  16. Ensure your body is not deficient in B vitamins, iron or essential fatty acids. These deficiencies can cause scaling of lips and cracking of lip corners.
  17. Don't lick your lips, it will cause more chapping. Licking lips doesn't moisturize them.
  18. Lip lickers also tend to be lip biters and pickers. Biting lips removes their protective covering which causes further drying. Tell a friend to stop you every time you pick your lips.
  19. Use a soft toothbrush to softly buff your lips to remove the deposit of dead cells that will cause more drying and flaking.
  20. Ordinary Vaseline works wonders. It prevents sun blisters as well if applied before venturing into the sun.
  • Chapped lips can be a problem. To prevent it try to put lip balm or chapstick before you go to bed.
  • When you wake up the next morning your lips will be smooth and soft. Also in the morning apply lip balm and add a coat of lip gloss.
  • You can also use sunscreen and put them on you lips if you wish.
Medical attention should be sought if symptoms persist without improvement. Your physician may choose to prescribe antibiotics or may consider prescription treatment for dermatitis. The return of the lips you long for is imminent.  It is always better to prevent than to cure. Chapped lips can be caused by a number of factors, and many of them, such as being for a long time in a dry and cold environment, eating very salty dishes, or kissing outside in a windy weather, can be avoided or at least minimized.

Have a beautiful day! :)

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