Tips for Healthy lips
Chapped lips are a common condition in which the lips become dry, cracked and sore. If marked, this can lead to bleeding and secondary infection. A number of other factors contribute to the incidence and severity of chapped lips, including overexposure to the sun or cold wind and dehydration, particularly when associated with alcohol intake. The incidence and severity of chapped lips significantly increase during and after chemotherapy. Natural-based creams have been shown in studies to be much more effective at treating chapped lips than petroleum-based products.
Cold sores: A number of infective conditions can affect the lips, including bacteria and fungi, but the most common, by far, is the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Acute episodes are characterised by the presence of red, swollen areas on the mucous membrane or skin, with fluid-filled blisters which can be disfiguring and painful. HSV, once contracted, lies dormant in the facial nerve ganglion. Cold sore episodes occur when the HSV migrates down the nerve to the dermis in and around the lips. Although strategies to prevent an acute episode have so far been unsuccessful, topical or systemic antiviral agents, such as acyclovir, docosanol, penciclovir or valacyclovir, have been shown to shorten the length of the attack if used early in an episode.
The precise triggers for these acute episodes are not certain, but there are associations with iron deficiency, psychological stress and a history of aphthous ulcers. Research has suggested a link between chapped lips and cold sores, as an estimated 79-82% of patients with cold sores have been shown to also suffer from chapped lips. If cold sores are common, it may be advisable to measure micro-nutrient levels.
Fungal infections: Often called angular cheilitis, the infection involves fungus growing in the moist areas at the corners of the mouth, especially if there is associated cracking. It would be advisable to use some anti-fungal cream such as Canesten which you can buy over the counter. Once it has healed, try to keep the corners of the mouth dry and avoid cracking buy using a natural lip balm.