Relief for Burned, Chapped & Swollen Lips
Lips often become dry and chapped during the winter months or in dry climates. You can develop burning and swelling of the lips from something as simple as dry air, but you can also develop more serious diseases with similar symptoms. To treat burned, chapped or swollen lips requires determining the cause before starting a treatment.
Diagnosing the Cause
You're more likely to develop chapped lips if you have dry skin or a history of allergies, live in a dry climate, spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun or wind, smoke, take acne medications or allow yourself to get dehydrated. If you lick your lips frequently, you may worsen chapped lips, MayoClinic.com states, because saliva evaporates rapidly, leaving your lips even dryer. While chapped lips often have simple causes, other conditions can also cause burning, swelling and chapping. Cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus, or HSV, often burn before blisters break out and can appear swollen when blisters appear. Chapping can also occur with HSV, especially if HCV recurs frequently, the University of Wisconsin Madison Health Services reports. Allergies can also cause chapping, swelling and burning in the lips.
Types of Treatment
If you have simple chapped lips, frequent applications of an oil-based lip cream or one containing petrolatum or beeswax can help, MayoClinic.com states. Don't use flavored lip balms, which may cause you to lick your lips more often. Staying hydrated, using a humidifier indoors and covering your face when you go out in the cold or wind can also help. If you have an allergy to makeup or foods that causing the problem, stop using it. Herpes simplex virus usually heals on its own, but may require antiviral medications. Applying ice for five to 10 minutes out of every hour can help reduce burning and may slow development of blisters.
If you have a tendency to develop chapped lips, you need to be diligent about treatment during winter months or when going outside in the sun or wind. Recognizing triggers for cold sores, such as stress and illness and avoiding chapped lips and other lip trauma, including sunburn, helps reduce the incidence of outbreaks of HSV. Recognizing the cause of allergic reactions on the lips and avoiding similar products helps reduce the risk of recurrence. Stopping medications that are affecting your lips may be necessary in some cases.
While chapped lips are annoying, the risks of developing more serious problems are small. However, if cracks develop in the corners of the mouth, they can become infected and may require topical treatment with steroid creams or antiviral medications. Using lip balm in these cases can make the problem worse by trapping bacteria beneath the ointment, the University of Alabama Birmingham Health System warns.
While chapped, burning or swollen lips can be painful and embarrassing, remedies to prevent problems are available, but you must use them faithfully to avoid recurrences.
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