What are ‘fluffy lips’ and when should you see a doctor?

AS the seasons change, it's likely that some of us will experience dry lips.

It's a common skin care complaint but if left untreated can be dangerous.

One expert explained that your fluffy lips, could actually be down to an allergy.

Chartered Scientist and Chemist, Bruce Green explained: "Fluffy lips, or hypersensitive lips from Allergic Contact Cheilitis (ACC), are when lips appear swollen and can even have a burning sensation.

"They appear textured such as scaling or fissuring and may even be crusting around the corners of the mouth. "

Bruce, who is the founder of SOS Serum said just as sensitive skin can be caused by contact dermatitis, lips can also be hypersensitive.

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He added: "An allergic reaction can occur by many irritants including toothpaste/mouthwash, fragranced cosmetics, certain lipstick ingredients such as castor oil, shellac or preservatives, medication,  certain foods and rubber/latex products."

Allergic reactions happen when the immune system becomes hypersensitive to a particular allergen or substance.

ACC forms as a result of an allergic contact dermatitis which affects the lips.

When this happens the lips can appear inflamed, swollen, discoloured and scaly.

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Across the country, many people have been experiencing sore and dry lips with Google Trends data showing that these search terms are up by 400 per cent on this time last year.

ACC can sometimes look like eczema, with 90 per cent of cases of ACC having the same characteristics.

Most cases involve the lower lip and although it's not a serious health condition – it is thought to increase the risk of skin cancer.

If ACC is left untreated it could develop into squamous cell carcinoma.

But the condition is preventable and Bruce has revealed his top tips to avoid the issue.

When should I see a doctor?

Most of the time dry and cracked lips clear up on their own by using over the counter remedies.

A pharmacist can usually help advise what the best product for you is.

The NHS says if your lips are hot, painful and swollen – this could be a sign of infection and you should see your GP.

Guidance states: "If your GP thinks you have an infected lip, they may prescribe an antibiotic or antifungal cream to treat the problem."

If the issue persists then you might be referred for tests.

He said you should regularly moisturise your lips and use a treatment that is fragrance free and hypoallergenic.

"Ensure your product contains an SPF. Your lips need sun protection just as much as the  rest of your face and body. 

"Drink plenty of water to hydrate your whole body throughout the day.

"This will help stop your lips getting overly dry and chapping", he said.

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Bruce added that even though it's tempting to, you shouldn't pick at your lips.

He added: "If your lips get dry and flaky, don’t tug or bite – it  can make the problem worse."

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