I don't really know how I got it. I presume I got it by using a lot of lip balm products... but I'm really not sure. I'm at a stage where I think that my EC (and also (some) other peoples EC) might be an isolated form of Psoriasis or something similar. I'm still hoping that it's not and that my leaving them alone will eventually heal them, but I have a feeling that it might just Psoriasis (just speculation, don't yell at me ;)), at a very difficult location of the body.
Eating is not really painful, just feels really awkward and I often try to chew with my mouth open so the crusts don't touch. For me, eating is less of a problem compared to talking and doing regular stuff, because the lips are always "in the way".
I got EC around the beginning of March 2012. I don't really know what "leave them alone"-week I'm in, but it's somewhere around 9-10 weeks. I only tried two creams, for around 3 weeks total. After that, I started applying only some good oil, leaving the lips mostly alone and not pulling too much off of my lips. So I might even be on something like week 11 or 12.