With the cold weather comes a familiar problem: dry, sore, cracked lips. Get prepared for that kiss under the mistletoe with these tips from Dr. Susan’s new book BlabberMouth! 77 Secrets Only Your Mouth Can Tell You to Live a Healthier, Happier, Sexier Life.
Most people worry more about treating chapped lips than preventing the damage in the first place. Summer or winter, the more time you spend outdoors, the more likely your lips are to suffer from the combination of sun and wind. Not only does it burn and chap your lips, but long term sun exposure, especially on your lower lip, increases your risk of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
The best treatment is maintain sun protection is by repeatedly applying a lip balm with a minimum of SPF 15 to prevent pre-cancerous changes to the skin.
But when you choose your protective balm, take a look at the ingredients first. Dr. Susan sees many patients who have a bad reaction to the lip balm itself, resulting in lined, corrugated, cracked or inflammed lips. Most of those are from cooling agents, which makes it smart to stay away from balms containing menthol, phenol, or camphor altogether.
Realize also that by the time you finish a lip balm, you have eaten it entirely. That may make it far more palatable to choose only those filled with natural oils and waxes, such as beeswax, organic olive oil, organic palm oil, and evening primrose oil. Avoiding preservatives may mean that the balm will have a shorter shelf life, but it’s much healthier for you overall.
In addition, avoid licking or chewing your lips due to stress. All the benefits that saliva brings to your mouth don’t extend to your lips. If you are licking or chewing due to stress, it is better to work it out with exercise or meditation. Checking your medication for side effects is also a way to prevent those sore and cracked lips. Many medications do cause lips to dry and chap, so if you suspect your prescriptions are the culprit, consult your physician and ask for a new prescription.
If you have lip ailment that persists for more than a few weeks, visit your physician or dentist to have it examined as this can be a sign of a more serious illness or condition. They can help determine how serious the problem is and the best way to treat it.