Constantly Dry Lips and Chronically Chapped Lips Caused Chapped Lips Treatment

Millions of people use chap sticks every day, but only a few tens of thousands of people have any of the diseases that cause chapped lips.

Chronically dry lips and chapped lips are not unusual among people whose cars have broken down in the middle of the desert. They occur in people who have various forms of angular stomatitis, which is associated with protein deprivation, specifically a shortage of the amino acid tryptophan, and a deficiency of the B vitamin niacin.

Chapped lips occur in people who have yeast infections of the mouth and after severe sunburn. They can be caused by diseases that are basically “psoriasis of the lips” and in people who have severe allergies to the nickel used to plate drinking vessels. But only thousands of people have medical causes of chapped lips while millions of people use Chapstix. Why should this be?

lip-balmThe secret the makers of most lip balms don’t want you to know is that chap sticks contain chemicals that chap lips. The flavors and fragrances that remind Chapstix users of Christmas morning, Mom, and apple pie are all dissolved in alcohol. The alcohol used to make the product dries out the skin, and causes people to use more of the same product that dries out the skin even more. Why should anyone care?

Ask anyone who has ever had to have part of the lip removed to treat squamous cell carcinoma. Before the skin of the lip becomes cancerous, there almost always is a precancerous lesion known as an actinic keratosis. A tiny, newly formed actinic keratosis is too small to see, but can be felt – unless it is constantly covered with lip balm.

A few years later, the actinic keratosis grows large enough to distort and crack the skin of the lips, but constant use of lip balm obscures the crack so the precancerous lesion is ignored. Then, when the spot on the lip that will eventually turn into cancer is a gray, dry patch large enough to be seen, lip balms like Chapstix make it invisible.

Just how many people have this problem? In Australia, where skin cancer is rampant, 40 to 60 per cent of all adults develop at least one actinic keratosis somewhere on the skin. In the United States, actinic keratosis is second only to acne as a reason to see the dermatologist.

The overwhelming majority of people who have actinic keratoses do not develop cancer. Just about one-half of one per cent of actinic keratoses turn malignant in the first year. Only about one in fifty skin lesions turns malignant in five years. But do you want to be in that one in fifty? Do you want to have to have a chunk of your lip surgically removed and replaced by a plastic surgery that is almost certainly not going to be covered by insurance?

Just say no to Chapstix. Don’t use any lip balm that includes flavors and fragrances to make you feel good. If you feel the need to use any kind of lip moistening agent more than twice a day, consider lip balm alternatives that will save you money and distress over the long run.