Dry or chapped lips: How can this phenomenon be alleviated?
Many people suffer from dry or chapped lips, especially in cold weather. In the risk groups one can find those who are exposed to a lot of extreme or continuous cold, dry wind, multiple exposure to the sun like athletes. Inaddition, those who suffer from poor oral hygiene such as infants and the elderly, diabetics, and those who are treated for a long time with systemic steroids and are more prone to oral infections – bacterial or fungal.Chapped lips can reach a state of acute or chronic inflammation of the lips called cheilitis. There are many reasons that cause dry lips:

Exposure to variable weather damage. Cold, wind, heat and prolonged exposure to the sun and UV radiation that can even cause burn, dryness and peeling of the lip skin to the point of irreversible damage.

Exposure to substances. Dermatitis can be caused by contact with a substance that can aggravate an allergic reaction – the substances can be found in blush, toothpaste, various dental preparations such as mouthwash, various metals such as implants or orthodontic appliances, food, rubber gloves or latex.

Harmful habits. Constant lip licking or manual peeling of the lips also causes chronic inflammation accompanied by dryness and a burning sensation.

Skin disease. It is important to remember that dry lips can be a symptom of a skin disease such as atopic dermatitis (asthma of the skin), lichen planus or even Sjorgen’s syndrome which mainly causes dryness in the eyes and mouth.

Medicines. Taking lip-drying medications such as retinoids (to treat acne or psoriasis), lithium or various chemotherapeutic drugs will also cause dryness.

infections. It is important to rule out bacterial (staphylococcus) or fungal (Candida) or malnutrition (in iron for example) infections especially when the rest of the inflammation in the lips is located at the corners of the mouth.

Anyone who suffers from chronic skin diseases, or is taking medications that are known in advance to cause dry lips, it is important to take preventive treatment in order to avoid getting into situations of dryness, burning and pain. Keep in mind that the urge to lick or peel the lips when dry causes a vicious cycle of aggravation.

What are the proposed solutions for treatment?

It is important to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun or cold as much as possible. If exposure can not be avoided, it should be minimized and protected in advance by using a lipstick with a protection factor (SPF) or by covering the lips with a scarf (in winter). When choosing a lipstick, it is important to choose a lipstick that provides moisture based on oils, petroleum or Vaseline. It is recommended to apply moisturizing lipstick to the lips every night before bed as the dryness tends to worsen during sleep.

If there is a suspicion that the dryness is caused due to exposure to substances such as a dental preparation, cosmetic product or new makeup – stop using it and see if stopping use causes improvement.

It is important to maintain good oral hygiene, drinking water and a balanced diet, and if these do not help, a dermatologist should be consulted to diagnose whether the infection requires an antibiotic or antifungal ointment (and is often combined with a local steroid in more severe cases), and also to rule out That the condition is a manifestation of some skin or systemic disease. In addition, if there is a chronic wound on the lips that does not go away for several weeks, a dermatologist should be consulted.

Dr. Liron Spitzer, Dermatologist, United Health Insurance Fund

By Editor

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