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Smile with ease
Smile with ease

Why suffer chapped, dry or sore lips?

Dry, red, cracked, split, bleeding, peeling, tender, sensitive, painful. Lips can get into all these troubles. The pain may last a while and contact with food and drink (or a passionate partner) may set you off screaming. The main agent for cracked lips seems to be the weather. Our lips do not produce a lot of natural oils and exposure to sun, cold, wind and dry air reduces what little there is, and lips lose their capacity to retain moisture. Licking chapped lips makes you feel better only for a short time. Once the saliva evaporates, the condition gets worse. Saliva has digestive enzymes that “eat” the skin on the lips. Then bacteria takes over, causing itching and irritation.

Lips go sandy also because of spicy food, allergy to lipstick dyes and other cosmetic products, infections, drugs, dehydration, Kawasaki disease, Macrocytosis, Riboflavin deficiency, Sjogren's syndrome (inflammation of tear/saliva glands), frequent use of soaps and other chemicals, vitamin deficiency and a history of skin disorder. All smokers go lip-licking and so do lip biters. Ill-fitting dentures could turn on a bout of lip cracking. If you are on a poor diet, expect the lips to protest by chapping. Fungus can cause the corners of your mouth to become red, chapped or cracked.

“Chapping is common to all, even babies,” says Dr. K. R. Radha, skin specialist. “Milk cream is an ideal antidote. Spread it evenly and watch baby slurp it happily. Smear a bit of butter or ghee. Adults, of course, will prefer a lipstick with an inbuilt moisturiser or cosmetic lip salve. Cracks at the corners of the mouth may appear because of a condition called angular stomatitis. Get it treated by a doctor. As in all aspects of health, green/orange veggies and fruits are your best bets for healthy lips.Get yourself Vitamin B complex supplements.” If there's constant bleeding consult a doctor.

Massage dry lips with a dollop of petroleum jelly, then rub it off with a warm, damp facecloth. The flakes come off neatly. Or apply clear castor oil. Crack open a Vitamin E gel capsule and rub the gel on your lips. Make sure your lip ointment is alcohol free.

Put yourself on a regimen of lip care. Apply a natural balm with an SPF of 15 over a film of castor oil. Leave it on for a few minutes. Drink lots of water (8-10 glasses daily). Hydrate lips with a cool, saltwater-soaked cloth a couple of times daily.

Drink vitamin-rich smoothies with carrot, spinach and tomato juice, wheat germ oil and nutritional yeast.

Visit a dermatologist. Choose what works for you. And make sure your lips remain kissable.

GEETA PADMANABHAN

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