Sore lips ? Find out the common causes and dos and don’ts for sore lips

Lips are considered to be a focal point of the face and are thought by many to be a sensual and attractive feature of the face. However, there is nothing sensual about sore, dry, cracked lips is there ? Lets find out how we can keep our lips luscious and banish those bad lip days.

Lips can become chapped or dry when they are exposed to extreme weather conditions, that includes the sun, wind and cold or dry air. Did you know more moisture is lost through the lips than any other part of the body?

When the lips lose moisture, the skin covering them can become tight and start to split.

What to do and what not to do in this scenario ?

Best way to treat sore lips

The best thing to do for your dry or sore lips is to regularly apply a lip balm containing petroleum or beeswax. You may need to try a few different products before you find one that works for you.

Choose a lip balm with an additional sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to help protect your lips in the sun. Remember the sun can dry out your lips and you need to protect them just like you do the skin on the rest of your body

A lip balm will act as a shield to protect your lips against the sun, wind, cold or dry air. It will trap in moisture and seal cracks against infection.

Now for the ‘what not to dos ‘ list

Avoid lip balms in pots, as repeatedly dipping your finger into the balm can introduce germs.

It’s really tempting to keep licking dry or cracked lips. However, this will only dry your lips more, as the saliva evaporates and the repeated licking or wetting “washes” the natural oil moisturisers off the skin.

It’s very tempting to pick and bite off flakes of dried skin, but this will only make the lips bleed and heal more slowly. Irritating the skin around the mouth may also trigger a cold sore if you’re prone to getting them.

Which leads me to my next common cause of sore lips … The dreaded cold sore !

Cold sores are a common condition. in fact six in ten people carry the cold sore virus but most people don’t know they have it as they get no symptoms. Only a quarter of people who catch the virus actually have any visible symptoms.

As the name suggests visible symptoms can include small sores or blisters that develop on the lips or around the mouth. The strain of herpes simplex virus usually responsible for cold sores is known as HSV-1
Cold sores often start with a tingling, or burning sensation around your mouth. Small fluid-filled sores or blisters will then appear, most commonly on the edges of your lip

The herpes simplex virus – or cold sore virus is highly contagious and can be easily passed from person to person by close direct contact. After someone has contracted the virus, it remains dormant (inactive) for most of the time.

However, every so often the virus can be activated by certain triggers. This can result in an outbreak of cold sores. These triggers really vary from person to person but can include being run down and tired, anything that traumatises the skin such as sun damage and some women find they are triggered by hormonal changes and their monthly periods.

Some people have frequently recurring cold sores (around two or three times a year), while others have one cold sore and never have another. Some people never get cold sores at all because the virus never becomes active.

Cold sores will normally clear up without treatment within 7 to 10 days.

However, antiviral creams are available over the counter from pharmacies and larger supermarkets. You won’t need a prescription for these. If used correctly, these can help ease your symptoms and speed up the healing time.

To be effective, these treatments should be applied as soon as the first signs of a cold sore appear (when you feel a tingling, itching or burning sensation around your mouth). Using an antiviral cream after this initial period is unlikely to have much of an effect.

Cold sore patches are also available that contain hydrocolloid gel, an effective treatment for skin wounds. The patch is placed over the cold sore while it heals.

Antiviral tablets may be prescribed for severe cases.if your cold sore is severe or not healing well you should go to see your GP
Sometimes, lips can become dry, inflamed and feel sore due to infection in the lips, which may be bacterial or fungal. The medical term for this is cheilitis.

If you have red, sore lips and think they are infected, see your GP. They may prescribe an antibiotic or antifungal cream to treat the infection. This may also contain 1% hydrocortisone (steroid medication) to reduce the inflammation.

If the corners of the mouth are red and sore, you probably have a type of inflammation called angular cheilitis. Again, this is often caused by bacteria or fungi and is treated with ointments applied to the area.

Angular cheilitis can sometimes be a symptom of a type of eczema called contact dermatitis, and is more common in people who wear dentures.

It is also more common in older people where the creases around the corners of the mouth become more pronounced, as saliva can build up in the crevices and irritate the skin.

I hope that helps ….
Remember protect your lips for that perfect pout