From my own point of view, leaving the lips alone wasnít enough to heal my condition (iím not fully 100% yet, but close. The crusting into layers has stopped. See my previous posts, such as the healing update thread). I had the condition for 17 years, and I tried countless times to leave them alone to prolong the length of time the top layer of skin would not fall off. Iíd try not getting them wet, not touching the skin with anything; using straws to drink, breaking up food to avoid it rubbing off lips, etc. I remember even trying things like putting cling film or tissue paper over my lips to avoid them getting wet/having stuff rub off them at meals etc, in desperation. But no matter what I tried, the crusting skin would eventually become very brittle/tender and soft. It would become almost like wet paper in its tenderness and would eventually come off. Then the cycle would start again. Iím not sure what was the longest length of time I went without the top layer of skin coming off; it may have been around 4 weeks. It seemed impossible to prolong it longer given the skin was becoming very moist and brittle, coming into contact with the saliva in the mouth, etc. After the top layer came off, the layer underneath would peel off, and the cycle would begin again.
I personally would agree with what a lot of people here have said (including anuragverma11 in his thread above ďHow can it be external/localisedĒ) that it is a symptom of some internal disorder. And like some have said, there could be a number of factors involved, including the immune system, digestive system, endocrines system of glands, and the organs etc. that eliminate toxins, such as the liver and lymphatic system. This may not be the case for everyone of course. Some have differing symptoms; some have inflammation on the lips themselves, others donít. For some here it may even be allergy. But for most I would say that some internal disorder is the cause, and stress may be a factor for many (in my own case iím convinced that long-term anxiety was the root cause. This in turn affects the nervous system, immune system, digestive system and endocrine system. Theyíre all related and interact, each often having a knock-on effect on the other).
So in my own case, taking supplements and doing certain detox methods are what worked for me, along with a healthy lifestyle & diet. Thatís not to say you shouldnít leave them alone for as long as possible. You definitely SHOULD leave them alone. But in my case, after a few weeks of my particular methods I tried, the condition cleared up. Now only miniscule flaking appears the odd day. Some days they look perfect. It's still been only a couple of months of doing the methods, so early days yet.
I left them alone for just over 2 weeks at the time, shorter than the longest periods I tried. I tried not to get them wet during this period. Eventually, the crusting top layer of skin started coming off. I even helped skin off when it was hanging off. Then the next layer underneath peeled off. There were no ďgroovesĒ. I had it on both lips. The skin did eventually turn yellow at this time (see my pics). After that the cycle of crusting into layers never occurred again, from late March to now. So itís looking good.
So now Iím trying to work out which of my methods had the most impact. (see my update on healing thread or other posts to see exact methods). They may all have contributed. I did various things together within a few weeks of each other. I stopped using toothpaste. I have since introduced it in the last few days and there have been no reactions yet. I tried some detox methods. I added some supplements, including antioxidants, and vitamin & mineral supplement.
I personally think toxicity has a role to play, so I wondered if the methods i used to lower the toxic load on the body (i.e. detox) were the main factors. Then somebody (ahr in the ďautoimmunityĒ thread) mentioned that they/their dermatologist thought oxidation may play a factor in disrupting the cell regeneration in the lips. Iíve come across oxidative stress/oxidation before. Basically, the body produces molecules called ďreactive oxygen speciesĒ (ROS) normally every day when oxygen is used in respiration and metabolism. But when the body becomes unhealthy/is out of balance, an excess of these ROS occurs and/or the antioxidant substances in the body to deal with the ROS become impaired. This is oxidative stress. This eventually can cause damage to the cells of the body, and from what Iíve looked up can play a role in dozens of diseases, and also in the aging/degeneration of the body. Stress and anxiety can cause oxidative stress for example. So while it may not be the root cause, oxidative stress could be playing a role in the condition.
Anyway, this got me thinking if the antioxidants I was taking were playing a major role in my healing (antioxidants tackle the Reactive oxygen species). I first began using a strong antioxidant called Resveratrol ( this is a substance found in several plants, including grapes. The supplement I take, brand Solgar, uses resveratrol from Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese Knotweed)). I actually first came across it when it was mentioned on this blog on exfoliative cheilitis, in a comment at the bottom (10th comment).
The guy had success with resveratrol in healing his condition, along with B vitamins and iron. He mentions a Desonide cream also, but felt the resveratrol was the main factor.)
I also began taking a multivitamin & mineral supplement that contains vitamins and minerals that work as antioxidants, including selenium, zinc and beta carotene (Immunace is the particulal supplement,
. It also contains bioflavonoids, which are thought to be strong antioxidants. I also had been taking a supplement called propolis for many months (propolis is a substance bees collect from tree buds and other plants) prior to my healing. This also contains bioflavonoids. I switched to a stronger propolis liquid (50% propolis by Beehealth) a few weeks before taking the resveratrol. I also had been taking green tea for a few months after giving up black tea near the beginning of the year. I switched to herbal tea in early April. Green tea contains similar substances to resveratrol, called phenols, which again act as antioxidants.
(This paper looks at oxidative stress as a cause of skin problems and mentions resveratrol, green tea, and inflammation. Might interest some:
Iím currently doing a digestive cleanse. Iím going to stop all the methods and supplements Iíve been doing/taking in the next few weeks and see how my lips react and then add things back to see what impacts most. If they donít return to crusting etc then my healing may be near complete and I may not need further supplementation.
But if the cause is internal, as I believe it is, I would still like to know what exactly the main mechanisms were. So I don't want to dash your hopes that leaving them alone isn't going to work for you (i'm not sure what else you are doing along with this). It's just that in my own case, this alone wasn't enough.