FUB: Are lips too often forgotten, i.e. are we pretty bad at looking after them compared to, say, the skin on our faces?
Dr.M: Absolutely, we have all experienced dry, chapped lips, a sure sign that we are not looking after this vital and sensitive part of our body. Just like the skin on our face, our lips are exposed to all manner of environmental conditions but without much protection.
FUB: Why is it important to look after our lips?
Dr. M: The outer layer of our skin is called the epidermis, and it has a protective covering called the stratum corneum. This layer is far thinner on the lips than it is anywhere else on the body. Our lips also don’t have any sebaceous glands, which secrete oils, keeping the skin naturally moisturised. A lack of melanin in our lips means that they are more at risk of sun damage too.
FUB: Why is Winter the most challenging season for lips?
Dr. M: Winter brings with it cold air, wind and central heating, conditions which will dry out the lips further. Any natural moisture in the lips evaporates rapidly in these environments.
FUB: What is the number one lip problem you see in clinic? What are the seasonal differences you see?
Dr. M: The most common problem is dry, cracked lips during the winter which can lead to the development of cold sores. Over 70% of the population carry the cold sore virus, with up to 45% of people experiencing recurrent cold sores. This is more of a problem in the winter as the health of our lips is compromised.
|Dr Kuldeep Minocha|
FUB: Given that cold sores are a common complaint in Winter, what is the first thing we should do in the onset of a flare up?
Dr. M: The HSV type 1 virus lies dormant in the nerve endings around the mouth. During a flare up the first signs are a tingling sensation followed by the classic weepy blister that may take up to 2 weeks to fully heal. All the published medical evidence suggests that even if an anti-viral cream such as Zovirax is applied correctly during the ‘tingly’ stage before virus multiplication the length of the illness is only reduced by 1-2 days at most.
However by using Prevasore [Dr Kuldeep is brand ambassador for the product] which contains both an emollient (moisturising ingredient) and a humectant (moisture retaining ingredient) on the cold sore itself as well as the rest of the lip we can maximise natural healing and reduce irritation and risk of secondary infection.
FUB: What is the worst thing we can do for our lips?
Dr. M: Excessive licking of your lips is one on the worst habits. Saliva contains digestive enzymes, so when you lick your lips you are effectively eating away at your lips and breaking down their natural protective barrier. Although temporarily soothing to the lips, saliva evaporates very quickly leaving the lips feeling even drier. Maintaining lip hydro-balance by lubricating and retaining moisture in the lips is vital to ensure good lip health.
FUB: What are your top five tips for looking after lips in Winter
1. Stay well hydrated with 8 glasses of water per day.
2. Avoid licking your lips.
3. Take care what you apply to your lips, some lip balms, matt lipsticks as well as menthol, camphor and fragranced materials can dry out your lips.
4. Sun-protection is important, even in the winter, remember we have little melanin in the lip to protect from UV radiation.
5. Exfoliating about once a week with a gentle lip scrub will maintain lip health.
|Some of my lip balms|
FUB: Is there a lip salve or other handy treatment that you always carry around with you?
Dr. M: The majority of available lip products contain only some form of barrier to retain moisture in our lips. Prevasore is unique in that it contains an actual moisturising agent in the form of White Soft Paraffin to hydrate the lips, combined with Glycerol, which acts to retain moisture in the skin.
FUB: How do lip problems change as we age?
Dr. M: Like any other type of skin on your body, lips are also prone to signs of ageing. Loss of volume and sun damage lead to shrunken looking lips, which become involuted with age. Smoking and excessive pursing of the lips can result in premature ageing of the lips.
FUB: In closing, do you have further words of wisdom you wish to impart?
Dr. M: As with all skin and anti-ageing issues, the key is prevention. Try and get into the habit of moisturising your lips daily to maintain your lips in the best possible condition.
Prevasore costs £6.95 (inc. delivery) and can be bought here.
Main Pic Credit: Jeremy Brooks