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Help for Chronically Chapped, Peeling Lips

Q: For nearly a year, my lips have been painfully chapped and cracked, and the corners are so dry that the skin is peeling and revealing raw, tender skin. I've been using lip balm religiously to keep them moist. It helps for a little while, but I constantly have to reapply. I feel totally dependent on chapstick. Is there anything else I can do?

Dr. Donnica: Believe it or not, the lip balm may be exacerbating your problem! There are many people who actually have allergic reactions to the ingredients of certain kinds of lip products, even though they are marketed to protect the lips.

You may want to try Dr. Dan's Corti Balm™ available online at www.DrDansLipBalm.com. Invented by dermatologist Dr. Daniel Viders after treating thousands of patients with severe chapped lips, this is the only truly hypoallergenic lip balm with 1% hydrocortisone. It does not contain lanolin, menthol or commonly used acids (many of which are present in popular lip balms) because these ingredients can cause allergic reactions or irritation, especially when the lips are already cracked.

There are also certain medications (e.g. Accutane) and medical conditions (e.g. psoriasis) that can worsen chapped lips, causing them to crack. Many lip balms also contain fragrances, which can cause allergic reactions or irritation. As for preventive measures, be sure to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, use a room humidifier in dry environments, and use a hypoallergenic sunscreen or zinc oxide to prevent sun damage on the lips. While licking your lips may seem like a good way to moisturize them, it can also exacerbate the condition and you may be doing it without being aware of it.

Created: 10/25/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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