They say so much with out even opening. Lips, like eyes, provide a glimpse into who you are. Lips can complete an outfit, make someone’s day, be a trademark or – most importantly – indicate what’s going on with your health. Maybe that is why so many people use lip moisturizers, balms and lip sticks on such a regular basis.
Outside of the cosmetic appeal and excluding being in instances of extreme weather or using some medications, lip care products are beneficial. They can soothe dryness and provide lips with a dewy, healthy appearance. But, there are times when the products do not work and lips cannot retain moisture or consistently maintain a healthy appearance. In these times, lips may show symptoms that allow for early detection of a potentially serious health issue. Here are some signs that something may be wrong:
- Dry, Chapped or Cracked Lips. You know, the type of lips that you do not want to smooch – EVER! They may be so dry that they give you a moment of pause. You have seen them. Lips with skin that is so dry and cracked that you’re forced to think of broken shards of potato chips sticking out of a sponge. And, if forced to kiss them, you would be met with the feeling of coarse sandpaper and fine needles being dragged back and forth across your face. It is not sexy and it does not look great, but do not fret. If you have persistent dry lips, the condition may be treatable. Often times, dry lips may be a sign of dehydration, an allergic reaction or an oral yeast infection.
- Discolored Lips. This discoloration goes beyond drinking and eating items that contain ingredients with bleeding pigmentation. Beverages, candies and fruit can leave temporary stains [on lips] that are no cause for alarm. Really, who doesn’t like nature’s lipstick – the deep crimson hue of pomegranate juice – sprinkled on your pout? But, it is the isolated patches of discoloration that may be a call to action to check your health. If it is not caused by an external source or a mark from birth, these patches on your lips could be a sign of a serious, even deadly, illness. According to medical experts, patches of changes in pigmentation could indicate anemia, jaundice, liver damage and organ impairment.
- Swollen or Tender Lips. Duck lip is a current trend and can lead to lip and face sensitivity, if this sometimes funny and unnatural pose is held for too long. This pose is funny and its effects are no cause for alarm. The time to worry is when changes in the size and sensitivity of lips are realized after a product is applied or food is eaten. Each may seem like no big deal because our bodies may change and then go back to [our] ’normal’. But, these symptoms are important because they are signs of an allergic reaction or, more seriously, a glandular issue. Allergies go beyond the more well known symptom such as itchy eyes, sneezing, a sore throat or a rash. And, any allergy can be caused by contact with ingredients found in body care products. It’s important to know to things:
- Allergies to ingredients can show on the lips even if no other part of the body is negatively impacted.
- Swollen or tender lips are known to be a precursor symptoms to anaphylaxis and/or swelling of the tongue, both are life threatening conditions.
You are taught to care for lips by moisturizing, exfoliating and decorating in order to keep them healthy and socially acceptable. So, when you think about your health, it is natural to not think about lips as an area to focus on. It is now an automatic response to apply product and move on with your day. But, if you are experiencing issues with your lips and the consistent application of lip care products is not fixing them, consider your health.