By Dr. Kaycee Reyes
Make-up used to be all about the eyes. Then came the brows. And now, the lips. And why not? The lips are a gateway to expressing emotions. Angelina Jolie, Megan Fox, and Kylie Jenner are some of the celebrities people look up to, trying on everything from lipsticks to lip enhancements to make their lips appear plumper and thicker. However, having lips that look sexy and luscious is different from providing lip care to actually keeping them healthy, and it is important because our lips have no sebaceous glands that keep it hydrated, and it also has no melanin to protect it from the sun. This is why dry and scaly lips are always possible for some who do not care for their lips enough, or worse, lip dermatitis.
The lips have three parts: the outer layer or the skin around the lips, the vermilion margin or the border between the outer and inner lip, and the mucosal part of the lips. Lip dermatitis, or eczematous cheilitis, is a skin condition where the lips are swelling, red, itchy, irritated, and dry. The skin around the lips and the vermilion margin are mostly usually affected by this skin condition. Individuals who get lip dermatitis may be endogenous, or having caused by an internal reaction of the body, such as atopic dermatitis, or having naturally dry skin due to genetics, or exogenous, or having caused by external factors. Exogenous can be either irritant contact cheilitis caused by lip licking, or food, cosmetic, and environmental reactions; or allergic contact cheilities caused by allergens from lipsticks or lip care products, food, dental products, sometimes even acne medication and nail polish. Babies and children may have lip dermatitis too and usually, saliva is the main cause. Changes in the environment may cause it as well. Other times, it is possible that there are no causes to it at all. To identify lip dermatitis, the dermatologist will check the patient’s medical history and conduct a patch test not only on the patient, but sometimes on the products used by the patient as well to determine the exact cause. Once determined, treatment would be avoidance or elimination of the specific cause, such as food or product used. Sometimes, a second irritant may be considered if the condition continues. For others, topical corticosteroids or other medications may be administered by the physician.
Being healthy is always better than just looking healthy, and that goes for the lips, too. Ladies, lip care is always more important than lip color. Sometimes we go too far and try to achieve something that may be detrimental to lip health, such as applying too much lip product too often (that goes for lip balms and lipsticks) or having excessive lip enhancement. Lip dermatitis definitely does not look sexy. If you notice that you have scaly, dry, or swelling lips that do not go away, visit your dermatologist to have it checked right away. Best of all, remember that we are all born different and that makes each of us special. Be proud of who you are, thin lips and all.