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Skin Care and Diseases

Exteme lip problem

02/21/2007

Question:

My lips stopped producing any type of oil or lubricant and no longer shed skin....ever. I remember having regular lips and occasional chapped lips where they would have dry skin that would eventually heal but have sought help as to why they no longer produce their own oils and what can be done. I use lanolin about 15-20 times a day and cannot be without it. The lips are not always sore but if I miss even 5 minutes without having an ointment of some kind they become sore quickly. At one time when the process was coming on and I had not dicovered lanolin to help it was horrible, the skin was practically translucent. Doctors have no answer except that possibly the use of Acutane a number of years ago may be the culprit. I used it for 6 months but my lips and skin returned to normal for about 4 years and then one paricular day they felt like they had a million little paper cuts. It took a about 2 years to find something to soothe them and they look normal but I was wondering if there is anything that will jump start the natural process for my lips or if I am doomed to carry lanolin for life. Thank you.

Answer:

This question has been forwarded by Dental and Oral Health (Adults):

The problem clearly seems unusual. I don’t have a good answer for you and it may be worthwhile to see a University based dermatologist for evaluation.

Several things to keep in mind: subclinical allergic contact dermatitis (to lanolin, preservatives, dyes, etc.) can lead to the changes that you are describing. Also, depending on your age, chronic sun exposure can cause changes in the lips leading to dryness. Less often, medical problems or medications can cause drying of the mucous membranes.

If you have not had comprehensive “patch testing”, a type of allergy testing, by a Board Certified Dermatologist who has experience in Contact Dermatitis, that may be a good next step.

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Response by:

Pranav   Sheth, MD Pranav Sheth, MD
Formerly:
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati