If you can't leave the house without a tube in your pocket or can't even count the number of times each day you apply, you may be worried that you have an unhealthy attachment to lip balm. But is it possible to be addicted to something so innocuous?

Experts are divided on the subject. Some say that lip balm application can develop into a psychological repetitive behavior. Others worry that constantly covering lips can trigger them to stop protecting themselves. Many more say lip balm is harmless. But they all do agree that while lip balm "abuse" does not have negative physical side effects, it's not wise to put too much trust in their healing abilities without understanding what they can (and can't) do.

Lips dry out due to lack of moisture in your body and in the air. Lips don't contain oil glands, so dehydration often shows up there first. People taking acne medications or suffering from eczema are at increased risk for excessive dryness, along with retinoid or alpha hydroxy acid users. Winter's cold and windy weather aggravates this problem for everyone.

Before you reach for balm to cover the problem, make some simple adjustments to help preserve your lips' natural moisture. Sleeping with a humidifier and drinking more water will help boost your lips' moisture, along with covering them with a scarf against frigid conditions. Lip plumpers and lipsticks that contain phenol can dry you're your lips, so it's best to avoid these during the winter season. When your lips feel very dry, don't lick them or they'll become more dehydrated. For an intense remedy, apply petroleum jelly before bed and leave it on overnight to give lips an infusion of needed oil.

When you do reach for lip balm, choose the standard, unflavored kinds. Balms that contain phenol, menthol, or camphor give lips a soothing, tingling sensation, but unfortunately further dry out your lips. Flavors can also make these seem "addictive." Lip balms that contain sunscreen are also a good bet since they will protect your skin from the sun's drying rays.

Believe it or not, there's an entire website devoted to "curing" lip balm addiction. Lip Balm Anonymous, which has been around since 1995, suggests a 12-step-program for going cold-turkey on lip balm use. The site's intended seriousness is debatable,  but real people who fear they have a problem visit every day. As with any habit, if you feel that you can't function without lip balm, it may be a sign that you may be more dependent on it than you should be. The next time your lips feel dry, try reaching for a glass of water -- something that will really help combat the problem rather than just covering it in wax.




Medical News Today



Lip Balm Anonymous


Mayo Clinic