What lips can tell you about your health

What lips can tell you about your health

Our lips move flexibly, smiling, frowning, forming words, or
puckering for a kiss. And they're made of some of the thinnest layers of skin
on our body, making them receptive to touch and sensation. That thinness makes
our lips vulnerable to drying, chapping, and other surface changes. And from
time to time, a change in the way our lips look can indicate that something has
gone awry or out of balance in our body.

You can do a spot-check yourself by looking in the mirror.
But if you are concerned about anything you see, do not hesitate to consult a
dentist, doctor, or dermatologist.

If your lips appear dry, cracked, or peeling...

Usually, this means that you've been overexposed to the
elements of nature like wind or sun, or dry air. Or lips may appear dry or peeled
when dehydration has set in. There are some other possible reasons for these

  • Habitual
    or anxiety-triggered lip-biting can make your lips sore,
    dry, and inflamed. The lower lip gets bitten and chewed on more commonly
    than the upper lip.

  • A dry
    lower lip that feels hard to the touch and has red speckles or a white
    filmy appearance is a sign of sun damage that could raise
    your risk of future skin cancer.

If you notice changes in the corners of your lips...

The moist nooks created by the folds of skin at the corners
of your mouth can be real trouble spots. Thrush, a yeast infection,
can cause curd-like white patches in the lip corners. When wiped off, the
patches may become red, inflamed, and painful.

If your lips look swollen or inflamed...

You would surely know if you had taken a blow to the mouth
that caused swelling - or if you had recently had collagen injected into your
lips. But there are other possible causes. An allergic reaction can
set off swelling. Foods, beverages, medications, lipstick and other cosmetics,
and even insect bites or airborne irritants could all be to blame. Consult with
a doctor to find out how to reduce the inflammation and pinpoint and avoid your
lip-swelling triggers in the future.

If you spot a sore on your lips...

Lip sores can be temporary, chronic, or episodic. And lip
sores can be nothing much to worry about, easily treatable, or cause for
greater concern:

  • A
    chronically dry mouth could create a sore in the corner
    of your lips. The causes of dry mouth include dehydration and use of
    certain medications.

  • mucocele might
    pop up on the inside of your lower lip. It's a rubbery, bubble-like
    swelling which may look blue. Mucoceles occur when a salivary gland is
    blocked or injured, usually caused by trauma such as accidentally biting
    your lip.

  • One
    obvious source of lip sores is the herpes simplex virus. The
    HSV-1 type causes cold sores. If you’ve been infected by HSV-1, you may
    also experience a sore throat or tonsillitis. This virus spreads easily,
    so avoid direct lip-to-lip contact.

  • Similarly,
    syphilis infection spreads easily with close contact
    and can trigger a cold-sore-like chancre (not to be
    confused with a canker sore, which are ulcers that crop up inside of the
    mouth). A chancre appears red and does not cause pain. Left untreated,
    syphilis may also cause a white mucous patch on the lip or inside of the
    mouth weeks after the chancre appeared.

  • fibroma is
    an overgrowth of soft tissue that is typically benign. Most often,
    fibromas are pink, occasionally white or light-coloured, and if irritated
    can appear reddish or bluish. Likely causes are tooth-grinding,
    lip-biting, or the rub of poorly-fitted dentures or a sharp spot on the
    teeth or from braces.

  • If you
    smoke or drink, a fibroma may be a sign of oral cancer. Cancerous
    lip sores will often feel hard and will be attached to underlying tissue,
    while non-cancerous sores move freely.

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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