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jbmd, Board Certified Physician
Category: Dermatology
Satisfied Customers: 615
Experience:  Board Certified physician in Internal Medicine - 30+ years experience
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Hi,Ive have an issue with dry cracked and split lips on

Customer Question


I've have an issue with dry cracked and split lips on both sides. I have tried EVERY product available over the counter and my GP has recently given me epederm, which hasn't worked either. I have a severe allergy to lanolin and also to perfume, so my choices are limited. I have had B12 tested, and this was fine. I was told for years it was because I smoked, but i gave that up two years ago. Can someone PLEASE help me find a long term solution?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dermatology
Expert:  jbmd replied 4 years ago.

Hi--I've had several questions about this lately. Have you tried any homemade, cost-effective natural masks? They can really work. I'd be glad to give you some suggestions.


I hope you're NEVER using soap, as its alkaline properties can dry your skin. Have you tried cleansing with oil: a combination of 3 parts grapeseed oil and one part castor oil? you mix these and apply to your face, then place a hot (not burning hot) wet cloth over your face and let it sit until the cloth is cool. Rinse the cloth and repeat. Works really well.


Another thing is to apply honey, let it sit for 15 minutes and then wash off with warm water (gently!)


Have you tried these? If not, please do and tell me how they do for you or I'll give you more.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I don't use soap at all. I use olive oil as a moisture when it's bad and honey made my lips completely swell up n scab!! I've tried all the household stuff I think as I've been researching this condition for some time. I've been told hydrocaulic injections could help this but I don't want to end up with a trout pout! Is there not done sort of thing that can be applied that I'm missing?
Expert:  jbmd replied 4 years ago.

Sorry about the honey--you obviously have researched and know your stuff. So I can't recommend any of Burt's Bees stuff. Yes, in most hands the injections are fairly ghastly.


You don't smoke, do you? If you do, stopping will help perhaps. Spicy foods should be avoided.


Does anyone else in your family have this issue? Anyone with Sjogren's disease? Are you on any medications that can do it?


I know for sure you keep from licking your lips. Is it worse in the morning? are you mouth breathing all night? Can you apply the grapeseed oil nightly and do the grapeseed oil/warm poultices to your lips several times a day? If you are mouth breathing all night, especially with snoring, this certainly could be the problem.


Is this all over your lips (angular cheilitis) or just the corners? Has your dermatologist tried treating for fungus? Tested for iron, vitamin C, and other B vitamins (esp. B1 (plasma thiamine) or B6 or B2 (riboflavin?)



Have you tried a withdrawal diet as you certainly seem to be allergic to lots of food-based things: lanolin/honey? You could try that for two weeks to two months and see if there is an improvement.

Expert:  jbmd replied 4 years ago.
Sorry--I edited it. My post coincided with another problem someone was having here. Please re-read!
Expert:  jbmd replied 4 years ago.
When you have time, please answer the questions so I can continue thinking of what might help you with this vexing situation. You've had it for a while an I have a lot of patience with helping.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I've had this for over 20 years. I have tried anti biotics, creams. I don't smoke but I used to and I always thought it was becuase the smoke was drying it out. I've not smoked in two years and the problem is the same. I don't wear makeup or lipstick because of it and I have to constantly moisturise as well as exfoliate the area daily otherwise there is a build up of extremely sore and cracked skin. I am actually starting to look like the joker and its depressing me no end. I don't know what Sjogren's disease is, but i guess i would if someone had it. The only medication I take is lanzoprazole which is for stomach acid.


I tried cutting out things in my diet and I try not have the same thing - do you think there could be a relation to diet coke? It's the only thing I can think of that I do have on a daily basis, but I don't drink from a can or anything? I've had all my bloods done recently to check with this as I was convinced I was B something difficient and everything came back fine.

Expert:  jbmd replied 4 years ago.
You should stop the diet coke. If it doesn't dry out your skin, it still leaches your bones and makes them thin.

Sjogren's disease is an autoimmune problem like rheumatoid but primarily with dry mouth and dry eyes. It's more common in women who are much older than you and with Northern European ancestry.

You've had this since you are about 14? did it coincide with the start of your menses?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I actually did think it could be the diet coke, but again I did stop it for a period of time and nothing's my only vice lol!


I guess the problem could have started about the same time. Although I have tried various different types of contraception, so not sure if that would have an impact. Some hormonal, some not. A problem to be solved indeed!

Expert:  jbmd replied 4 years ago.
Yes--diet coke is a terrible vice! though better since they took the cocaine out of coke! (speaking of things that will dry your lips out)

The various contraception types that use hormones replicate normal hormones mostly so if you happened to be (weirdly) allergic to your own hormones or reacting to your hormones, they wouldn't make it better. The NON-hormonal ones like barriers or non-hormonal IUDs do not interrupt your normal hormones so they wouldn't affect any reaction to hormones.

Have you been pregnant and had a child? If so, was it better during the pregnancy?
Expert:  jbmd replied 4 years ago.

(coke like coffee is diuretic and so could lead to dry lips. Plus I can't even address the chemicals they put in it as it's a huge secret.)


You might stop the coke/coffee/tea for a while and see but you might get a terrific migraine from stopping all caffeine. Caffeine constricts blood vessels and stopping it causes them to dilate--hence headaches and maybe dry lips.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I've had two children. I don't remember the problem bein any different during pregnancy. I've just replaced the coil with the hormone injection to see if that would make a jot of nothing lotion and potion wise thats lanolin and perfume free you could recommend. Not always practical to carry around oils, given I'm out and about at meetings most of the day...

Expert:  jbmd replied 4 years ago.

Actually, I have patients who carry hemp oil sprays (spray on finger, apply to lips) or little vials of other oil: grapeseed, olive, argan. Little OTC eye drop vials that can be opened and refilled are great for this. Apply hourly with wipes at the desk or in the purse for your fingers.


I still want to think on this as my passion is figuring out difficult problems for people discouraged after years of not getting a solution. So even after you rate and close this you will possibly get responses from me. This started very young in you. Did you as a child possibly have any strange disorders? (obviously you had nothing serious.)

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I had quite bad exzema as a child on my legs and arms, but its dissapeared around 7 or 8 and my skin was fine until my teenage years. I had terrible problems with my entire face, in particular my eye lids, lips and general dryness, but then I learnt not to stick perfume products on my face or anything with lanolin. Still from time to I need a hydrocotizone for my face but not often. The problem now seems to really just be the corner of my lips....


Other than that I've kept in good health. I have rhesus negative blood - could that have anything to do with it?



Expert:  jbmd replied 4 years ago.
No--on the blood that I know of but will research medical reportings.

The eczema history seems very significant to me. I think this might be a continuation of your eczema but I do wonder if, like with eczema, you do not have some minor skin autoimmune phenomenon going on. You may be reacting to things in your environment, like air freshener sprays, laundry detergents and softeners (especially on your pillowcases), even perfumes in people near you. (I can't imagine you use scented or anything but natural hair products/shampoos)

Still, if you have a minor immune deficiency in your skin/lips, fungus might get in the cracks and keep it going. You never answered if you snore or sleep with your mouth open. Important.

Also, a lot of my patients with vitamin D (tested as 25-OH vitamin D) deficiency have this. Was that one of the vitamins tested? Are you fair-skinned or dark? You live in the UK, correct--little sun all winter.