The cold winter months can take a serious toll on the skin, particularly the lips. But the state of our mouth may say more about our health than we realize. As if we weren't already obsessed with lips enough? The transformation of Kylie Jenner's prominent pout has made headlines since 2014. While other celebs' lips, like Angelina Jolie and Mick Jagger, have become their signature. It seems we are always fixating on people's mouths, especially if we want a smooch.
But for all this attention, there are still some things we might not realize about these illustrious organs. If you think all the chapsticks and lip balms are unnecessary, guess again. The skin of our lips is thinner than any other part of our body. It has just a third of the cellular layers of our normal skin. That, combined with the fact that lips do not have any moisturizing sweat glands, means that dry and cracked lips are an inevitability. The delicate skin of our lips needs to be kept hydrated and protected. But sometimes no matter how well you maintain your pucker, problems occur. If you find yourself with constant lip issues do not ignore them! Lips might hold the key to some health secrets, and we should definitely heed their warning. These facts will make you want to take a closer look at your kisser.
1. Dry Lips
We have all experienced dry lips. This symptom is usually caused by basic dehydration or extreme and drying weather. If chugging the H2O doesn't make the problem go away, the discomfort may be caused by an allergy. Allergies cause swelling of the skin which irritates the affected area. It could be caused by anything from the food you eat to the makeup you wear, so changing your products and getting an allergy test might be a good idea. And if you have consistently dry lips, try not to lick them no matter how sexy it looks, as saliva may cause them to crack and peel more.
2. Cracked At The Corners
Developing cracks in the corners of your mouth is fairly common (especially in summer and winter) and incredibly unpleasant. But what do they say about your health? These cracks can be caused by a number of things. One common cause is Angular Cheilitis, a condition signified by painful sores at the corner and sometimes inside your mouth. This condition is either due to poor diet and lack of vitamins, or a fungal infection (and can be treated with an anti-fungal cream). Cracks at the corners of your mouth may also be a sign of diabetes — a yeast-like infection can develop due to high levels of blood glucose affecting your mouth's delicate edges. However, it not be quite so dire, as you can also develop a yeast infection from a build up of bacteria thanks to wearing a retainer or drooling in your sleep, an anti-yeast medication from your doc will take care of it.
The herpes virus can also cause cracks in the corners, outbreaks of which can be due to stress, and lack of sleep. Those with celiac disease are prone to cracking as well, usually a product of vitamin deficiency. Sufferers of anemia will also be at risk for developing cracked lips. So if you have any of these symptoms make sure you eat a healthy diet, take vitamins such as B2, iron, and zinc, and use soothing oils or balms such as petroleum jelly or aloe, to keep the skin protected and moist. It might not be a bad idea to see the doc if they don't go away quickly. If you are dehydrated these cracks will heal slower, so make sure you drink plenty of water.
3. Cold Sores
Cold sores are caused by a herpes resurgence, and can make you feel like an embarrassed outcast around the office. The cause of a cold sore outbreak can include anything from poor diet, to an limping immune system (hence "cold" sore), or too much sunlight. Once you feel the tingling of a cold sore coming, talk to your doc about a medication to suppress it or a topical cream to heal it.
4. Pale Lips
If your lips have gone from a rosy red to a pale pink, you may be suffering from anemia, and need to up those vitamins! Paleness of the skin can also result from low blood sugar or lack of sun. However, if the lips take on a blueish hue, that is more serious and could be the result of the blood not getting enough oxygen due to a heart or lung problem. Lips are red because the thin skin allows for more visible blood vessels. Anything affecting the blood will eventually show through the transparent skin of the lips.
5. Swelling Or Tenderness
If you're not using an irritating lip plumper to give your smackers a bee-stung look, a naturally swollen pout is probably the sign of an allergic reaction. A mildly swollen mouth could be due to an allergy to a brand of lipstick, toothpaste, or face wash. In which case, you should swap out the product you suspect is causing the problem. Severely enlarged lips can be also caused by Crohn's disease. This generally causes swelling in the bowel but can also present by inflaming gums and lips.
6. Burning Lips
If you are experiencing burning lips, and you haven't eaten a spicy curry in the last ten minutes, it could be a signal of a greater issue. Burning in the lips, throat, and tongue has been linked to B-12 deficiency, as well as depression and menopause. With menopause, the changing hormone levels can affect the saliva and cause discomfort. Psychological and emotional disorders like anxiety and depression can also result in Burning Mouth Syndrome as well. Of course, an irritation or allergy may also be to blame, so be sure to see someone for a diagnosis if you're experiencing extended periods of discomfort.
Remember to take care of your pout this winter and be well!
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