“Say cheese!” With psoriasis on the lips, even smiling can be unpleasant. You give the camera your best grin, and your lips split into a thousand pieces. How’s that for a Kodak moment? Then there’s the times when you go to a restaurant and can’t enjoy your food because every time you chew, your lips sting a little. And let’s not talk about kissing. When you have lip psoriasis you can’t pucker up without slathering on a thick layer of lip balm. I’ve been there, done that, and with my big lips the experience is not something I’d like to repeat in a hurry.
Some dermatologists and members of the psoriasis community still think that psoriasis on the lips is a myth. They are wrong, it might be rare, but it exists. Psoriasis can affect anything on your body, from your eyeballs to your gums, and your lips are no exception. However, because it is so uncommon and unheard of, there tends to be a lot of misdiagnosis. You might be told that it’s just a case of severely chapped lips, that it’s a cold sore or even an STD. Whilst I had no doubt that my peeling lips were related to psoriasis, if you’re unsure, consult your dermatologist. The normal tell-tale signs of lip psoriasis are scaling and thick “crusting” (for lack of a better word).
2 Ways to Get the Perfect Pout when You have Lip Psoriasis
The first way to get psoriasis on the lips under control is to stop doing anything that might be contributing to the condition. Due to the Koebner phenomenon, which explains the way that psoriasis seems to form at the site of a skin injury, any sort of lip scratching and itching can exacerbate the symptoms. If your lip psoriasis hasn’t come on fully yet, make sure to avoid chapped lips in cold weather (especially winter) and sunburnt lips, as that kind of skin traumatization can lead to lip psoriasis. Apart from that, you also need to stop wetting your lips when they’re dry, as the constant repetition of licking and then your saliva drying out irritates them.
On that note, you also need to eliminate all the substances your lips come in contact with that may be irritating them or that you may be allergic to. This includes personal care products, such as make-up, especially lipsticks which contain propyl gallate, and even toothpastes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Both can cause a contact allergy, and as such can trigger a psoriasis outbreak on the lips.
The second way to get lip-smacking full lips again is to start looking after your lips, both before and during a breakout of psoriasis. Whenever you can tell that it’s going to be a cold and windy day, you need to get ready. Such environmental conditions can dehydrate your lips, cause painful cracking and worsen your lip psoriasis. To combat this, you need to stock up on your protective Chapstick arsenal, simple emollients likeVaseline (get the handy pocket-sized tubs) and medicated lip-balms. One more thing – you need to apply them frequently. I’m talking about every 15-30 minutes, so frequently that you seem obsessive. It might look like an OCD to outsiders, but you’re just looking after your lips.
In terms of which products to go for, any good lip balm will work wonders on softening your lips, but one that is fortified with sunscreen is even better! A SPF 20 or 30 is ideal. However, if you psoriasis is bad, then you might need a medicated lip ointment. You can usually get a prescription for an ointment containing 2-1/2% hydrocortisone. If you don’t want a prescription, here are two of the best over-the-counter products available for psoriasis on the lips.
The Body Shop’s Hemp Lip Protector
Available at the Body Shop, this lip balm is made from natural ingredients of hemp seed oil and beeswax, and it’s the best lip balm I have ever used! It is very intensive and helps to restore the skin’s natural moisture barrier, which means that over a few days your lips begin to magically improve and become more resilient. After a week of using it, my lips were unbelievably smooth (and my girlfriend loved it!
Developed by Dr Daniel Viders, a certified dermatologist in Central Massachusetts, this hypoallergenic lip balm contains 1% hydrocortisone. From reading psoriasis forums such as Inspire, this lip balm is very popular for treating psoriasis on the lips.