Chapped lips are an issue I see very often in my practice. For many people, liberal use of a lubricant will help ease the discomfort. But there are people who have tried every chapstick and lip scrub out there with no relief. Some people are prone to just having dry lips, but there is another condition you should consider.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
This condition occurs when an allergen causes a reaction and irritation to the skin. The lips are a very common area to see this type of reaction as the skin on the lip is thin and it reacts easily to allergens. Scaly skin or itchiness can occur directly on the lips or around the lip area. Figuring out what is causing this reaction is easier said than done. This rash could be caused by an allergy to one of the countless products, ingredients and chemicals we are exposed to every day. From shampoos, make-up and perfumes to metals such as nickel, gold and cobalt, allergic contact dermatitis will continue until the allergen is no longer coming in contact with the skin. Fortunately, there are things you can do to get to the bottom of this annoying condition.
Be You Own Detective
Your lips come in contact with hundreds of ingredients per day. Take the time to be aware of what you are using directly on your lips and what is in your environment. Make a journal of things you came in contact with on the days your lips are worse. Think beyond what you are putting directly on your lips. Remember that indirect application can occur from an allergen transmitted via the hands.
Avoid certain products
Stop wearing jewelry that contains nickel as this is a common allergen. Remove your nail polish/gel polish. Even if you’ve been doing your nails for years, nail polish is a very common allergen. Stop all lipsticks, lip gloss, sunscreen or metal-containing products, such as a dental tools that have direct contact to the lips. Indirect application can occur from an allergen transmitted via the hands
Beef up your treatment
At this point chapstick or vaseline may not be cutting it. Pick up some 1% hydrocortisone ointment at the drug store and apply 2-3 times a day for more relief. Feel free to use vaseline or aquaphor in-between the application of hydrocortisone as needed.
If all else fails, see a Dermatologist. We have the ability to preform an examination of your lips, prescribe prescription medications or preform allergy tests to try to determine the cause of your chapped lips.