it's been about 3 months since I started, however, I started applying ointments and what not for a while in January because a doctor suggested it. My opinion is that topicals and ointments won't necessarily set your healing back, they just kind of halt it. Your progress is more or less at standstill, but the symptoms are alleviated. Perhaps it would eventually heal on its own the same way if you use topicals, but I tend to think you make more progress buy just letting it run its course. My top lip is completely healed and I can use ointments and balms without consequences so, for me, that was not the cause and I probably will be using aquaphor here or there when my lips are normal again. My cycles have progressively gotten shorter as I allowed my lips to peel with no interference or ointments. Every time the skin came off, the cycles would shorten until where it is now. I'm only sharing my personal experience because I know how bad this condition can be and I hate to see any one else suffer. I don't mean to give any false information etc. If you need to know more, look through my other posts.