Get a Lock on Healthy Lips

Winter lip care for a plush pucker

Get a Lock on Healthy Lips

This winter give your lips some tender-loving lip care to keep them smooth and supple for Valentine's Day - and all winter long.

Smack dab in the middle of the coldest month of the year is a day that can warm your heart—and generate other forms of heat as well. Give your lips some loving attention so they’re irresistible this Valentine’s Day … and all winter through.

Face it: our lips take a lot of abuse when the temperature drops. Cold, dry air and brisk winter winds combine with sun exposure, contributing to dehydrated, hard, and cracked lips—not pretty, and certainly not kiss-worthy.

Keep your pucker plush

Diet
Be sure your diet contains plenty of healing vitamins A and E along with a good supply of antioxidant vitamin C.

We may not be aware of thirst in the winter, but it’s crucial to replace the H2O wicked from skin via the dry air.

Lip balm
For topical lip support, wear a lip balm containing nourishing ingredients including jojoba oil, vitamin E, and shea butter 24 hours a day, as over-licking lips leads to chapping.

If you enjoy skiing, skating, or other winter sports, look for a lip balm containing a natural sunscreen (titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or coconut oil) to prevent sunburn and possibly prevent an outbreak of cold sores.

During the dull winter months opt for tinted lip balms made with aloe vera, beeswax, and organic coconut oil combined with iron oxides and mica to create a kiss of colour that simply pumps up your natural shade. Look for tints ranging from light corals and pinks to sumptuous reds and plums.

Dry, chapped lips

Vitamin B2
Along with the brisk temperature and the furnace-dried air, deficiencies in vitamin B2 (riboflavin) can cause dry skin around the lips, as well as cracks in the corners of your mouth.

Because B2 helps with metabolism of essential fatty acids that keep skin cells plump and hydrated, be sure you get an adequate supply from foods including mushrooms, venison, yogourt, spinach, and goats’ milk.

Omega-3 fatty acids
Include omega-3 fats from deep water fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines in your weekly menu, or take a daily fish oil supplement to keep all of your skin—including your lips—moist during the winter.

Geranium essential oil
To tame roughness caused by the savage winter, add a few drops of geranium essential oil to some olive oil and lather it on your lips to soothe and speed healing.

Cold sores aren’t hot

Causes
Despite their name, cold sores have nothing to do with the weather. Instead, these tiny blisters are caused by a viral infection of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). A highly contagious virus, HSV-1 spreads via skin-to-skin contact, including kissing and sexual contact.

We are often exposed to HSV-1 in childhood, when small blisters form in the mouth, accompanied by fever and general discomfort. In fact, the primary exposure is often confused with teething. Thereafter, the virus hides in the nervous system near the mouth, waiting to be awakened by a cold, fever, food sensitivity, sunlight on the lips, or stress.

Symptoms
These bothersome sores start with a tingling or itchy sensation in one spot, in what is known as the prodomal stage. The spot then erupts with a painful, open lesion that scabs over and then finally heals in about 10 days. Taken at the prodomal stage, high doses of vitamin C may help to speed healing.

Treatment
Because HSV-1 depends on the amino acid arginine for replication, avoiding food sources of arginine (chocolate, coconut, nuts, dairy products, meats, seafood, soybeans, white flour, wheat germ, seeds, and chickpeas) can be helpful.

Alternatively, the essential amino acid lysine displaces arginine and can prevent and speed recovery from herpes outbreaks. Look for lysine in eggs, fish (cod and sardines), lima beans, potatoes, spirulina, and fenugreek seeds. Lysine is also available in supplement form, as well as in topical solutions such as lip balms.

Canker sores

A canker sore (aphthous ulcer) is a small white spot that appears on the lips, gums, soft palate, and inside of the cheeks—and even the throat.

Causes
Not surprisingly, stress is a common trigger. Food allergies, hormonal imbalances, poor dental health, and Crohn’s disease have also been associated with these painful lesions.

Nutritional deficiencies of vitamin B12 and folic acid, iron, and the amino acid lysine may also be factors in canker sore development. Focus your diet on fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains to minimize canker sores.

Be aware of sensitivities you might have to oral care products including toothpaste and mouthwash. Opt for natural, alcohol-free products that include antibacterial tea tree oil. During an outbreak, rinse your mouth and lips with cooled camomile tea.

Treatment
During an outbreak, cut down on meat products, as these trigger acidity in the body and may delay healing. Look for iron in green vegetables, blackstrap molasses, nuts and seeds, fish, millet, and parsley.

When you eat foods containing iron, be sure also to take in a source of vitamin C to enhance absorption and avoid calcium, which blocks its absorption.

Lip cautions

Our lips speak volumes about our health.

Spots
While freckles on your lips are no cause for alarm, talk to your health care practitioner if you see brownish-black spots, as these may indicate the inherited stomach and intestinal disease called Peutz-Jeghers syndrome.

Red or white lip spots or sores may indicate an increased risk of lip cancer.

Inflammation
Trauma, allergic reactions, and the swelling associated with angiodema can cause lip inflammation that leads to lip cracks and irritation in the corners of the mouth.

Because lip lesions create an open invitation for thrush, a fungal infection, to develop, they are not a superficial matter and deserve your prompt attention.

Happily, with a little TLC, you can kiss your lip problems good-bye!

Recipe for dry, chapped lips

  1. Soften dry or chapped lips by tenderly exfoliating with brown sugar moistened with a few drops of olive oil.
  2. Apply to lips and let sit for a minute.
  3. With a wet cotton washcloth or fingertip, gently rub mixture into lips in a circular pattern.
  4. Rinse with water; follow with lip balm.

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