Hi all. Sorry for taking a little while to respond (a buddy of mine is leaving for Iraq, so I was out of town visiting him).
Iím not sure if any of this is correct, but Iíll try to reply to your questions:
1. Iím mostly concerned with my lower lip, as thatís the one that appears most obvious. In that regard, Iím not sure which lip started peeling first or if they started at the same time (honestly, if this problem was isolated to only my upper lip, I might not have really paid much attention to it).
2. The tongue thing is interesting. Iíve never paid attention to it, but I think that I usually rest my tongue both on the top of my mouth and against my teeth. That feels kinda like the natural position, but Iím not sure if that has always been the case (never noticed before). I havenít noticed any kind of vacuum, but it is interesting to note that while we sleep, such a condition probably would not exist.
3. I agree that it could be lymph. In the case of any sort of immune response, the lymph system would be involved and the amount of lymph fluid would also likely increase. Lymph, or plasma, is a clearish liquid, which transports water, nutrients, and immune-related cells to cells and carries waste products away (also, bacteria are often carried through the lymph system to lymph nodes, where it is easier for the body to wage war against them (which is why lymph nodes swell during sickness and infections).
Some other related ideas:
In regards to your immune system, even if you appear completely health, your immune system might still be engaged in various forms of warfare (in fact, itís always working and attacking various objects). For example, in the case of autoimmune conditions, such as allergies, the immune system reacts to antigens or substances that normally should not evoke a response, and sometimes destroys healthy and needed body cells.
It could be that whatever is happening is some form of autoimmune condition, in which case TIMs and other beneficial drugs might be beneficial. If what we have is related to some form of mycobacterial infection, the immune system may be incapable of mounting an adequate response.
As a case-in-point, I havenít gotten a cold for several years; although, interestingly, I used to get sick very frequently and the colds would sometimes last for weeks. I smoked for a few years (quit completely about 3 years ago), so I always attributed getting sick to that. However, the progression could be related to autoimmune an condition and/or the natural strengthening and development of our immune systems as we get older (24 now). Food for thought: macrophages, a form of t-cell, are partly responsible for cleaning the lungs by ďswallowingĒ debris and smoke particles.
One of the super annoying qualities to whatever we have is the huge amount of potential variablesówithout carefully controlled tests, access to expensive equipment, and a PhD in something arcane, it seems the only thing we can really do is trial-and-error. But hey, if something works, I really wonít care how or why.
Many people have reported that their lips appear better in the morning. It is interesting to note that while sleeping, metabolic processes within the body slow down substantially, likely lessening the effect of autoimmune conditions (the slowdown could also affect invading bacteria in various ways).
I drink socially sometimes (a lot this past weekend) and I havenít really noticed that it aggravates my lips. In fact, sometimes I think it makes them a little better for a short while (who knows: hops are reported to be somewhat antimycobacterial, alcohol dramatically affects hormone levels, and our body is likely most concerned, temporarily, with eliminating the toxic components of alcoholic drinks).
Iím not sure that our lips being moist for long periods of time is what caused the problem. For example, when David Blaine spend a week underwater in a bubble (his breathing gear didnít cover his lips), his lips seemed to be mostly unaffected.
It is also interesting that whatever we have appears to spread to different areas and only seems to affect one kind of skin on our lips (the rest of my lips, both upper and lower appear completely normal). The spreading seems eerily like something alive (I would tend to think that autoimmune conditions would move faster, but thatís complete speculation) and mycobacteria characteristically have very long generational replication times (thought to be beneficial to their virulence), which could explain why it would take a significant amount of time for the conditions to spread from one lip to the other.
What makes that one type of affected skin different, from the other areas? This might be useful.