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Having dry lips, dry and lot of cracks. Applying moiturizer, petroleum jelly and coconut oil. Serious or due to weather change?

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Posted on Thu, 18 Jul 2013
Question: Hi,

For past 10 days my lips have become very dry and there are lot of cracks and fissures. There has been scaling on my lips especially the lower lip. I am applying moiturizer, petroleum jelly and coconut oil regularly but can not see it getting better. Is this indication of something serious or just weather change and dehydration can cause it? I am worried.
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Follow up: Dr. Johny Chacko (6 minutes later)
Sorry. This was not the query I wanted to ask. The actual question is this:

For past over 2 months my lips have grown dark and dry. I have tried various medicines, including Chapsticks, Vit E, B and C, Fuscidic Acid based ointment etc. But to no avail. I have consulted 2 doctors in person and right now I am applying Betagel as per one's advice. But I do not see any improvement. When I apply the ointment the lips are moist, but when it wears off it becomes dry and whitish or greyish in color. It also scales a little bit. Sometime back the upper lip swelled and there is itchiness also in my lips. I feel as if someone is stretching my lips all the time. I want help to get rid of my lips and to get it back to normal pink color. Can you help please? If you can suggest a doctor whom I can see here in Bangalore I will be grateful. I even asked doctors I met if this can be cancer. I am worried. They said no it is not, but they are not sure what it is!!
doctor
Answered by Dr. Johny Chacko (41 hours later)
Hello XXXXXXX
Welcome to Healthcare magic
What you are having is cheilitis. There are a lot of causes of cheilitis.

Weather change and change in temperature and humidity is a common cause of cheilitis. When a person feels dryness of lips he tends to lick or wet the lip with saliva which can make it worse as saliva has a lot of enzymes which can irritate and dry lips further. So if you are doing it please stop doing that.

Some people develop cheilitis primarily because of habit of licking the lips and we call it lip lick cheilitis.
Other causes include vitamin deficiencies, sunlight, collagen vascular diseases like lupus, rare cheilitis like granulomatous cheilitis etc.

You have a feature to upload the images of your lip by yourself at the right side of the query page, please utilize that so that I can assess your cheilitis better. You can also send the image as attachment to YYYY@YYYY , with the subject as 'Attn: Dr. Johny Chacko'.
It is unlikely to be cancer.
Betagel has a gel base, I will prefer an ointment for the lip.
You can go to St. John's Medical College and consult Dr XXXXXXX Bhat in the evening (Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday).
Waiting to see a photo of your lip so that I can help you further.
Take care

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Johny Chacko (41 minutes later)
Thank you very much doctor. I have sent you 3 pics of my lips each for when it was normal, when it was bad and one of today's when it looks better than "bad". Note that today's pic is with borolin applied to my lips. without that it looks dry. But the pigmentation has reduced a bit. I still want my lips to become pink like before though :(

And forgot to add that my upper lips has more pigmentation than lower. earlier both lips were equally pinkish.

Hi Dr. XXXXXXX

Picture named "normal" is how my lips were before 2 months.
Picture named "bad" is when it had become worse.
Picture named "recent" is today's. Note that this is my lips with "borlin" applied. If not, it appears dry. But after applying betagel there has been some improvement.

Thanks,
doctor
Answered by Dr. Johny Chacko (1 hour later)
Hello XXXXXXX
Welcome back.
Thanks for the three pictures, it was very helpful.

I can see a violaceous hue over both the lips. It could be due to a condition called lichen planus. It could also be due to subsiding inflammation, we call it post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Do you have any burning sensation inside the mouth as well especially when you eat spicy food? Itching over the lip also could be one of the symptoms of lichen planus.

Application of topical steroids will benefit you. That is why Betagel has given you improvement as it is a steroid. I will recommend a steroid ointment like Flutibact ointment twice a day which in my clinical experience has given results. It is a combination of steroid and antibiotic.

A face to face consultation with Dr XXXXXXX will be a good idea as he can rule out lichen planus as well.

Once the inflammation subsides you will get the normal lip color back gradually.
I would ask you to stop smoking if you do. Also refrain from wetting your lip often with saliva.
Hope I have answered your query. If you have any clarifications I will be happy to help.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Johny Chacko (9 minutes later)
Thank you doctor. I do not have any burning sensation while eating or otherwise. But I do have itchiness in my lips, sometimes severe. You mentioned about inflammation. Is that part of lichen planus? And what is lichen planus anyway? Is it some kind of allergy? I used to smoke, but ever since my lip condition I have completely stopped for past 1.5 months.

I will apply the ointment you prescribed and also see doctor XXXXXXX

I am little concerned about the reason of this lip condition. I never ever had such problems with my lips before.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Johny Chacko (3 hours later)
Hello,
Welcome back.

Burning sensation inside the mouth could be a symptom of lichen planus. That is why I asked about that symptom. Lichen planus is a skin disease with poorly understood cause which may affect mucosal areas like lips and mouth and even skin. You may call it a type of allergy.

Other causes of cheilitis also can cause itching, not just lichen planus.
Inflammation of lip is seen in all the conditions I mentioned and pigmentation can occur after inflammation which is called post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Once the inflammation subsides it will become better.

Smoking also can contribute to cheilitis and pigmentation. So stop it completely.
Hope I have answered your query.
Wish you good health.
Take care

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Johny Chacko (11 minutes later)
Thank you Doc for being so responsive. Appreciate it!
doctor
Answered by Dr. Johny Chacko (16 hours later)
You are welcome XXXXXXX
Take care
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Dr. Johny Chacko

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Having dry lips, dry and lot of cracks. Applying moiturizer, petroleum jelly and coconut oil. Serious or due to weather change?

Sorry. This was not the query I wanted to ask. The actual question is this:

For past over 2 months my lips have grown dark and dry. I have tried various medicines, including Chapsticks, Vit E, B and C, Fuscidic Acid based ointment etc. But to no avail. I have consulted 2 doctors in person and right now I am applying Betagel as per one's advice. But I do not see any improvement. When I apply the ointment the lips are moist, but when it wears off it becomes dry and whitish or greyish in color. It also scales a little bit. Sometime back the upper lip swelled and there is itchiness also in my lips. I feel as if someone is stretching my lips all the time. I want help to get rid of my lips and to get it back to normal pink color. Can you help please? If you can suggest a doctor whom I can see here in Bangalore I will be grateful. I even asked doctors I met if this can be cancer. I am worried. They said no it is not, but they are not sure what it is!!