Lip Service

Those chapped lips could be a sign of oral contact dermatitis — an allergy of the mouth. If you notice swelling inside or outside your kisser, discomfort on the tongue, or heightened redness you could be suffering from a response to any of these common items:

  • Dental products: Things you use to polish your pearly whites and give you fresh breath could sting when you pucker up. Many toothpastes, mouthwashes, and dental floss contain artificial colorings, flavorings, and ingredients like cinnamic aldehyde, which can cause irritation. Switch between different brands and flavors to offset reactions.
  • Cosmetics: Some lipsticks and lip balms contain dyes that may cause cheilitis, a severe inflammation of the lips. Patch test any new cosmetic under a bandaid on the outside of your forearm for 48 hours before applying it to your face or mouth. Products labeled hypoallergenic may be better, but there’s no guarantee — the FDA doesn’t regulate an industry–wide definition for the term.
  • Mother Nature: While a natural product may be free from chemicals, it can still irritate your skin — so don’t assume Mother Nature is always the best option when choosing toothpaste, creams, or even chewing gum. After all, every reaction is based on your body’s immune response to certain compounds, whether they grow out of the ground or are made in a lab.

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