Q. My son has been using lip balms for years and has developed an addiction to them. He is frustrated and hasn’t been able to find a substitute to heal his lips. Is there help out there for him?
A. Dermatologists frequently blame dry lips on the habit of lip licking. If your son can overcome the urge to moisten his lips with his tongue, he may not need lip balm so often.
Sometimes, a common ingredient in lip balm such as lanolin, sunscreen ingredients or menthol can be irritating. This may lead to lip licking, and a vicious cycle of lip balm use. Switching to a different brand that does not contain the culprit might help.
For others, the irritation might be coming from the diet. J Mc reported this: “My grandson, age 6, had very dry, peeling lips for almost a year. Turns out he had an allergy. When the allergen was removed from his diet, the lips cleared up.
“I developed a strange reaction to tomatoes and tomato-based foods 2 years ago, causing my lips and surrounding skin to become irritated and eventually peel.”
If he has a fungal infection of the lips, however, he may need an antifungal cream. A trip to the dermatologist might reveal the root cause of the lip balm dependency.