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Susan Ivy
Susan Ivy , Nurse (RN)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 4058
Experience:  BSN, MSN, CNS
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I have has swollen, chapped lips (inside and outside mouth

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I have has swollen, chapped lips (inside and outside mouth and mainly upper lip) for months and will not go away despite various over the counter lip balms. Any suggestions for treatment?

Thank you for writing to JustAnswer Health with your concern.

I'll review some of the causes, in case there is something you need to change or you need supplementation, and also recommend a different type of lip balm.

It is most common to have dry or chapped lips in the winter months. There is usually much less humidity in the air inside, due to heating systems. Wind outside and the dryness of indoor environment can create this problem. Also, if you are not drinking enough water, this may cause this problem to develop more easily due to an underlying dehydration. Individuals with diabetes will have more problems due to the increased osmolarity of their blood stream (if you have additional symptoms of diabetes or have not been evaluated, it is suggested that you have your glucose levels evaluated). There are nutritional deficiencies that can result in this problem as well.

If a dry environment seems to be contributing to the problem, a humidifier will help. (If you plan to purchase a humidifier, let me know and I will provide you with an article that discusses how to choose a humidifier that best fits your needs.)

Licking the lips too often can increase the degree of chapping of the lips.

For women, an allergy to lipstick is a possible contributing cause.

Certain B vitamins, including a Riboflavin deficiency is known to cause cracked lips. A multiple B vitamin including riboflavin can be tried.

Those low in essential fatty acids (such as fish oil or flax seed oil) have more skin problems, including dry lips. You may want to consider flax seed capsules or adding flax seed to cereral. Fish oil capsules are another supplementation that may help - make sure you are getting a mercury free brand.

It is fairly common for people to have problems with the ingredient "lanolin" which is found in most lip products bought in most stores. The natural and alternative health community believes that lanolin may actually decrease the ability of the skin to secrete it's own oils and many lanolin free brands can be found in health product stores. Just in case lanolin is increasing the problem for you, you may want to look for lip products without lanolin.

A product that does not have lanolin that is available in most commercial stores now is Burt Bee's Wax products. Here is their web site to show you the packaging and you could order it from the web site as well:

I hope this helps. If you have other questions or comments please reply.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I have a mild case of diabetes but under control with Metformin (500mg two per day). I will try Bees Wax, drink more water, a multi-B vitamin and take fish oils. Have hard others use Cortizone 10. Do you think that might help? Thanks in advance-very helpful.
You are welcome.

Cortisone would just be a short term solution and would not work in the long run, and I am not sure if it would even work at all for the lips - it is not recommended for any long term purposes as it could eventually cause thinning of the tissue (skin).

Make sure you are getting plenty of water, and if you are not monitoring your blood sugar, you may want to double check to make sure it is not slightly elevated.

The brand of the lip balm is Burt's Bees, but perhaps your are correct in assuming that it contain bees wax, I just am aware that it does not contain lanolin and seems to work well for many.

Feel free to follow up any time if questions come up.

Susan Ivy, Nurse (RN)
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 4058
Experience: BSN, MSN, CNS
Susan Ivy and 4 other Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Many thanks
Thank you!

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