Our lips are used for talking, smiling, kissing, singing, laughing and so much more. Like our hands, nose and ears, they are exposed to the elements; therefore they need some TLC all year round.
Whether it is just a dry, sunny day; or a cold, winter morning, our lips can become quite dry when exposed to the elements. This is because our lips have no sebaceous glands, very little melanin, and a very thin layer of skin. Chapped lips are not uncommon; often accompanied with dryness, itchiness and/or pain. Small cracks can also appear in the corners of the mouth. Often people tend to lick their lips, but rather use a good lip balm, as licking one’s dry lips will only aggravate the symptoms.
The cracks in the corner of the mouth can relate to the dryness, due to a blocked nose, but it can also be an indication of a lack of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is not stored in the body, but excreted when we go to the bathroom. Therefore, I would suggest that you take your vitamin C every day – preferably in the morning before you eat breakfast. There are many different brands on the market to choose from; I use one that is buffered, so that it does not irritate my stomach.
Our lips, just like our bodies, needs exfoliation and moisturizing. You can either use a moist facecloth or a soft toothbrush to gently exfoliate the lips. Once done, remember to put on something like Vaseline lip balm, to moisturize the lips.
The dreaded cold sore or fever blister often pops-up when least welcome! It is caused by the herpes simplex virus (type-1 strain) and enters the body through a cracked mouth corner or break in the skin inside / around the mouth. Once inside the body, the virus lies dormant in your skin’s nerve cells. Many of us know – once you get it, the chances of it recurring is doubled! So; be careful not to kiss someone who has a cold sore, don’t share utensils, razors, lip balm or towels. The only thing this virus needs in order to “show it’s face” again, is a cold or flu, stress, fatigue, menstruation and even too much time in the sun!
So…what do you do when you feel the tingling and/or burning sensation that is the start of a cold sore or fever blister? Go to a pharmacy and get yourself an over-the-counter ointment, with Acyclovir in. The ointment will form a layer over the sore, smothering it. This extra layer can be left, or you can very carefully, using a soft tissue, peel off the ointment-layer (it often looks like skin peeling). Just make sure that you don’t try and peel off the parts that are still stuck; if you do it’ll start bleeding and then the cold sore will take longer to heal. Do not scratch it, even when it starts to itch. Itching is normally a sign that signals healing. If it gets worse, rather scratch or rub around the cold sore; this will lessen the itching and will keep you from aggravating the cold sore. If a cold sore doesn’t clear up after a couple of days; or if it gets worse, go see your medical practitioner.
Remember to always wash your hands before you eat, before you prepare a meal, when you went to the bathroom, to the shops, and especially after you have put ointment on your cold sore. Teach your children to do the same – with all the germs today one cannot be too careful!
As mentioned earlier, vitamin C, used daily, is very important. Make sure your immune system is strong 365 days of the year. A good B-complex, that includes B6 & B12, are good to take; especially during times of stress. A multi-vitamin is also a good idea. A wonderful product to use, that helps the body to maintain healthy tissue and gums, is L-Lysine. It is an essential amino acid that our bodies cannot produce and plays a vital role in combating fever blisters.
Come rain, come sun, come snow – exfoliate and moisturize your lips regularly. If you are in the sun use a lip balm or lipstick with added protection against the sun. If you are out in the cold, wind, rain or snow, then use something with added moisturizer in. And for the rest of the day, keep smiling!