Recently, I had a distraught patient visit me to seek advice on cosmetic intervention to make her lips fuller, pink and plump. In her words, her lips were “thin, dry, discoloured and unattractive”. For once, I just had to begin by commending on her having given more than a thought to the state of her lips. In my years of dermatological practice, I’ve seldom had people demand more than fair, flawless skin on the face.
This here was a different patient. She understood the need to have attractive lips to even out everything else she was doing to her face. But the deal breaker of course was that she needed instant solution to fix the years of damage she’d been doing to her lips.
When it comes to beauty and attractiveness, lips are one of those parts of the face which leave an impact. It mustn’t have registered consciously, but think about it – an absolutely fair and flawless face will have much appeal lost if the person had dull, dark or cracking lips.
Except for when we smear that daily dose of Vaseline, seldom do we think of giving special attention to our lips. After being heaped with excess quantities of colour and cosmetics, your lips too need some rejuvenation time. This, specially, because they are sensitive. In fact, they are among the most sensitive areas in the body.
Lips Are Sensitive
Lips are considered one of the most sensitive areas of the body along with fingertips. This is primarily because:
Lips are richly endowed with innumerable nerve endings.
The numbers of touch receptors on lips are higher than most other areas of the body.
The amount of work the brain does in interpreting signals from the lips and fingertip is much more than other areas of the body as well.
The areas of the brain that receive messages from touch receptors in the lips and hands are much larger than the areas for receiving messages from less sensitive places, such as the back.
The lips contain a very thin stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin, which is thicker at other places), particularly at the vermillion border (the junction between the skin and the starting of the lip – in other words the edge of the lip). This makes it sensitive and prone to abuse from harsh ingredients in various skin care regimens and products. Products used for the lips, hence, need to be chosen carefully.
The following two points define healthy lips –
Essentially symmetrical, pink to reddish pink, smooth and moist or well hydrated lips are considered healthy.
The lip should be devoid of growths, lumps or discoloration.
- Chapped lips
– Chapping is essentially a reaction to adverse environmental conditions, usually extreme cold or hot dry winds.
– The Vermillion border of the lips loses its plasticity and becomes eroded or cracked.
– The person tends to lick the lips and pick at the scales further worsening the condition.C
- Contact chelitis
– This maybe be provoked by irritating chemicals – notorious agents in lipsticks include azo dyes (used for color), carmine, lanolin, perfumes, sesame oil etc.
– Sunscreens in certain lip balms may also cause an allergic reaction.
– Certain toothpastes have also been known to cause contact chelitis, so you are actually best of using white toothpaste.
– Foods such as peppermint, artichokes, allergic chelitis as well.
- Angular chelitis
– This is inflammation of the corners of the mouth or angles of mouth (the times when they crack and go dry)
– Various factors can cause this, most common being infections such as candidiasis or staphylococci.
– This is common in diabetics, smokers, sinusitis patients (breathing from the mouth), patients on dentures and persons with vitamin B deficiencies.
- Ulcers on the lips
– They are fairly common.
– They may be caused by infections or trauma.
- Herpes infection
– This is common on or adjacent to the lip.
– It may appear as clustered, fluid filled lesions, which may or may not be associated with fever.
– They occur commonly in extreme cold (“cold sore”) or in cases where one is suffering from an upper respiratory tract infection.
- Infections such as herpes
- Contact or allergic cheilitis
- Angular chelitis
- Sun induced lip damage
- Eczema – lip lick chelitis
- Give your lips loads of fluids.
- Use a good quality lip balm. Good old Vaseline (petrolatum jelly) works well, and there are innumerable lip balms in the market – SebaMed Lip defense, Lip Talk lip balm, Bariderm Lip Balm (Uriage), and then almost all medium to high end stores have their own flavored and original lip balms. Further some lip balms also include an SPF factor – this is good for people into sports or spending long hours in the sun.
- Do not lick your lips to make them wet – even if you’re tempted to.
- Some people advocate the use of lip scrubs at night – do this at your own discretion. There are a few available in the market.
- There are lip balms, lip conditioners, lip body butters and lip care treatments – essentially all are the SAME – they just want to hydrate and give a smooth sheen to your lips.
- Avoid smoking and tobacco chewing.
- Long lasting moisturization
- Non-sticky, non-greasy
- Devoid of smell
- Reasonably priced.
- Olive oil or honey – use them as a moisturizer.
- Honey with a few drops of lemon helps get rid of dull and dry lips.
- Raw milk – massage it daily on your lips before sleeping.
- Rose water – adds moisture to lips and makes them smooth.
- Lemon and fine ground sugar scrub – removes the dead skin to give smooth and soft lips.