I have created this account to share with you how I was cured myself of exfoliative cheilitis. I normally don't like to post on forums but if this information can help you then that is great.
I first noticed there was a problem when my lips became extremely dry, red, and began peeling every three days like clockwork. I don't remember exactly when this started but it was around the the time of the World Cup (so, June 2010).
I am obsessed with my diet and over the years I have been fine-tuning it to be as close to optimal as possible. I don't "believe" in eating a varied diet and hoping for the best, I eat a small group of foods which I have deemed the best for me through years of trial and error, my own laboratory testing methods, and the study of peer reviewed scientific articles (in that order of importance). I eat these foods in the exact same amounts, in the exact same manner every.single.day. Obviously this opens me up to deficiencies or overdoses of certain vitamins and minerals. The potential benefit is that, if I'm right with my choices, it's constant progress at maximum acceleration rather than two steps forward one step back that might be the case with a varied healthy diet. There are foods that are universal thought of as healthy but are not (or have side-effects). However, I'm not here to talk about my diet, I just want to outline that the source of my problem was easily identified by making changes one at a time, which may not be realistically be so simple and definitive with 99.9% of people.
After a while of putting up with the dry, red lips and peeling cycles, but assuming it was only a temporary issue I tried the following ointments:
*Olive oil - only relieved the dryness for an hour or two and my lips would still peel
*Coconut oil - worked slightly better than the olive oil at relieving the dryness (would last 2-3 hours) but no change to the peeling cycle.
*Gelatin - worked the best out of the ointments I tried, preventing the dryness for approximately 6 hours per application but no change to the "cycle".
At that stage I realized the peeling cycles would not stop, that there was a continuing source. I started looking for the culprit. In the month before the problem began I had made the following changes to my diet: replaced lamb with Kangaroo, and increased the amount of chillies I was eating. I had also sustained a small cut to my lip.
The following scenarios seemed the most likely:
*The daily barrage of capsaicin from the chillies was "burning" my lips
*I was experiencing a symptom of a vitamin or mineral deficiency/overdose that was finally exerting itself
*Unconscious biting of the lips had cause the affected cut area to spread, eventually covering all my lips. Now that the entire surface of the lips was so damaged there was nowhere for new healthy layer epidermis to "grow from" (this seemed like the worst case scenario but also the least likely as this circumstance should be accounted for in the body's repair measures).
*I undercooked some Kangaroo meat and bacteria entered the cut on my lip
So having made a list of suspects I took steps to rules them out. Over a period of a few months I did the following (one by one, in succession):
*Removed chillies from my diet (until ruled out)
*Had various blood tests
*Made a conscious effort not to interfere with my lips
*Had a lip culture taken
*Chillies: no change whatsoever after two months
*Vitamin/mineral: all tests came back fine (great actually)
*Interfering with lips: went a month without touching my lips at all (no removing loose/hanging bits) and ended up looking like the living dead (so no change)
*Lip culture: came back saying that I had a heavy Staph infection
It seemed like I had found the source, a Staph infection of the lips. The doctor gave me some Antibiotics (a cream and some tablets) that he said should be effective against that particular strain. I didn't want to take the Antibiotics but I did as it seemed like the only way I'd resolve the problem and I was sure I didn't want to put up with peeling red lips for the rest of my life.
I completed the course of Antibiotics and noticed no change at all. It later occurred to me that there would be all kinds of bacteria on one's lips and in the mouth, that doesn't mean an infection at all.
Hope in a cure seemed lost. I could have tried a different Antibiotic but was hostile to the idea in the first case (for specific reasons I won't go into) and didn't want to go from one to another. I was left with nothing else to do except continue with the gelatin applications and put up with the redness and peeling, which I did for many months. Then one day I realized I had forgot one other change I had made to my diet prior to this infliction.
There was one nutritional aspect to my diet that I had long struggled to address through whole foods so had finally resorted to a tablet while I continued to figure out my best options. In the week/s before my lips began peeling I had started taking calcium tablets. I quickly decided on a whole food source to get my daily calcium and stopped taking the tablets. At the same time I also took another measure that seemed unrelated and inconsequential at the time (and still might be). I decided to stop brushing my teeth.
Not brushing my teeth may sound extreme and I wouldn't recommend it to other people but my diet relieves me of the requirement of brushing my teeth. Basically, tooth/gum decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth that produce an acid by feeding on the carbohydrates that we eat. Decay can also occur due to the food itself being very acidic. I eat a very, very small amount of carbohydrates and only in one meal per day (the rest are comprised of fat and protein). After this singular meal I rinse my teeth with water a half dozen times. I have been doing this for half a year now. I never wake-up with "furry" teeth or an unappealing taste in my mouth. My teeth are white. The proof is in the pudding. I only mention this in an effort to be totally comprehensive and transparent as I know a lot of you need a cure. By the way, I haven't used toothpaste in over two years, so that was not a factor.
1 week: peeling cycle stopped, 90% improvement
2 weeks: no longer need any ointment for my lips, 95% improvement
1-2 months: 100% cured
Now, let's take a moment to think of how this may have happened:
*Calcium blocked other important vitamins/minerals from being processed. This can happen as calcium competes with some specific vitamins and mineral (and wins).
*Calcium tablets changed the PH environment of my mouth to much more alkaline resulting in a negative "power-shift" of bacteria flora which then entered into my lips through the small cut I described earlier.
*An allergic reaction to additive/fillers of the calcium tablets.
I don't know which is true and to be honest it doesn't matter to me now. It has been many months since I stopped taking the tablets. The fact that I am cured is enough. I suggest you seriously consider discontinuing the use of any tablets (not just calcium) and see if have similar results.