Okay, so after about 30 years of dealing with peeling lips, I finally decided to google this condition. I aways thought my lips were chapped, or that I was using the wrong lipstick, or that I was dehydrated, or something. I have also been a long time lip biter, so I figured that everything I was experiencing was self inflicted. It never even occurred to me that I actually had a condition called exfoliative chelitis, not until I started doing some internet research. I have all the classic symptoms, the peeling every few days, etc. etc. I've looked at the photos on this forum and my condition resembles the more mild condition. I just get this thick skin that develops on my lips that I have to either bite off or scrub off in the shower. So I've been trying various things for a month. Some of these things have actually made it WORSE. But over the last week, I have been doing something that SEEMS to be helping. My lips have formed the thick skin, but they have not actually peeled in the last week.
So far I've tried leaving my lips alone & keeping dry (after 4 days, this proved too hard for me to do as I must interact with the public and this makes my lips look horrible, plus it makes me fixate on my lips since the dry skin is constantly bugging me); using lemon juice (stops the scaling but seems to make the skin thicker when the juice dries. For me, this made the affected area bigger, using honey, sugar, and lemon scrubs (doesn't do a thing -- this is a treatment for normal lips, not mine). I've determined that the goal should be to somehow shrink the affected area, as well as thin and dissolve the callus like skin. Over the last week, I think I've progressed in that direction and plan to continue doing what I am doing. Below is my current "lip cure" routine:
1. NO wheat, bread, pasta
2. very limited sugar
3. limited alcohol (occasional glass of wine)
4 LOTS of water (about 10 glasses a day -- start day with 2)
5. Taking a liquid probiotic every day
6. Take supplements: Herpanicine (a skin supplement that is loaded with Vit A, Vit E, Lysine, and Zinc); also taking St John's Wort (for depression) and a multi-vitamin
ROUTINE -- morning & night, sometimes mid-day.
1. GENTLY exfoliate lips morning and night with a warm wash cloth and dandruff shampoo. I coat my lips with the dandruff shampoo, rubbing it in with circular motions, and then wait a few minutes. Then with a warm cloth (not hot, but warm), I remove the shampoo and gently rub away any rough skin. I run the wash cloth under warm water, ring it out, then apply to my lips for a minute or so until the cloth cools down. I repeat several times with the wash cloth. The key at this stage is to be gentle with your lips. Don't try to scrape of skin that is stubborn about sticking on to the lips. You don't want to cause bleeding or raw skin, just gently remove what is willing to come off. In other words, be kind to your lips and don't take out your aggressions on them.
2. Pat lips dry with a clean towel. Apply a high-end Vitamin C skin serum to lips. I am using a brand called Spa Technologies, which has vitamin C, vitamin E, and a variety of antioxidants. I spread a drop on my lips and let it dry, then I put another drop on and let that dry. There is no oil in the serum.
3. I then spread a drop of the same brand's Vitamin C moisturizing serum on my lips. I actually use this throughout the day to help repair my lips and keep them moisturized. At night, I slather my lips with it. The next morning my lips look almost normal.
4. I am also occasionally using a non-petroleum lip balm, usually only if I have to go outside, go out to dinner, or be away from the house for extended periods of time. I try to use this infrequently.
So that's what I'm doing now. It's the dead of winter where I live, it's dry and cold, but I look forward to the summer when I can expose my lips to the sunlight more. My gut feeling thinks that sunlight will help a lot.
I'll post more if I see more progress. If not, I'll continue haunting the forums looking for a way to deal with this stupid condition.