Simultaneously eliminate all the factors
Howdy folks, I think everyone can agree that while we share symptoms of hyperkeratinization of the lips, everyone here is a bit different in how they got EC and how to heal from it. But we can learn from each other nevertheless. My guess is that what we have most in common is that we are stressed as hell about it, our immune systems are compromised in some way, and we keep doing failed methods. What I think was most in common with the several people cured from this is that they sound calm and methodical, and positive in their approaches.
So I thought I would share my methods and thinking for how to tackle my 12 year EC. I think EC is a rare mix of auto-immune, self-inflicted (factitious), and eczematous like conditions but closely resembles calluses ("corns" -- we are talking about the stratum corneum layer of skin here).
Each of us has initial inflammatory factors (causing redness, pain, edema), as well as aggravating factors (making it worse), and exfoliating factors (making the skin cells die and fall off prematurely). Each of our jobs is to identify what those factors are and remove them all from the equation AT THE SAME TIME as supporting our immune system and our body's innate ability to heal itself. This will take time to identify them all, and to get in good mental and physical health, but no time like the present to get started.
Inflammatory factors for me could have included stress, shifts in weather and humidity, allergic reactions to food or chemical products, poor vitamin absorption, or possible yeast infection following Antibiotics
But I irritated what could have been acute EC, with things like smoking marijuana, sitting by campfires, fried, spicy and starchy foods, alcohol binges, overuse of chapstick, Aquaphor, other petroleum based pharmaceuticals, mouth breathing and most importantly forcibly removing the dying (not dead yet!) skin. The acidity and drying effect of these things combined with the trauma I inflicted on myself disturbed the signaling mechanism where my body was confused and thought it's immune support and sending more malformed cells to the surface was the answer. In the process I picked up, through bad habits and hygiene, multiple staph infections. I believe it is through staph infections that it spread to my upper lip and to my nose. I am noticing that the upper lip and triangle didn't peel for a couple years but has started peeling again during my current outbreak. Though the upper lip is on a much longer cycle I believe because I haven't been constantly picking at it.
We have to get to a point where we are not reinjuring ourselves. My obsessive compusive picking, self-hatred and Depression
were like icing on the cake for my body's inability to properly heal itself. Now I know some of you can relate to that. And there is no shame in admitting this has affected your mental state in a self-destructive positive feedback loop.
Finally, there are exfoliative factors that are easily avoided. Pursing my lips, licking them, putting on creams with alpha hydroxy acids or other harsh compounds, eating messy acidic fruits, overly salty foods, contact with chlorinated water (some salt water seems to do a little better! Rawan Yusuf) I think just doing leave-it-alone by itself could be both aggravating and exfoliative in a way, but that doesn't mean the basic concept of trying to slow down exfoliation by not touching our lips is necessarily mistaken.
We all have hypersensitive lips that react to different things. We need to baby our lips and not over-do it, yes, but we also need to develop a holistic approach that works for us. And remove all the factors at once. If we succeed this will be a major breakthrough for our community. I will call this method the 😀Don't Pick🤨Don't Irritate😀Constant Moisture Method.
Sorry that doesn't have a nice acronym.
So what I am trying is: cutting out sugars/going on elimination diet, managing my stress without alcohol or weed, not removing the flakes until they fall off easily, eliminating my staph infection, staying positive and not obsessing over the peeling and focus on exercise and doing things I enjoy (I know, easier said than done), and lastly, keeping them constantly moisturized.
Constant moisture alone has not healed me and I think many of you could safely say it hasn't worked but at least your lips felt some relief. So I am trying an herbal remedy that contains sage and raw honey (and maybe propolis?) and so far it has seemed to give drastic improvement to what my lips have been like over the last month of stress and infection and constant peeling. It is not as sticky as the manuka honey and seems to help hold the flakes down without creating inflammation. The sage works against staph aureus, though thymol from thyme is seemingly more effective, so maybe when I run out I will make my own. I have used Mupirocin before to successfully treat staph and I am not ruling that out.
I will keep y'all posted as always, and wish you luck and confidence moving forward with removing all your aggravating and prolonging factors, and especially for everyone's mental health to bump up a few notches this week. Think about getting tested for staph or yeast and get an appointment on the books.
Peace in the Middle East and my heart goes out to the people affected by the Christchurch attack.