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Keeping Your Lips Heathy: Herpes, Yeast Infection, and Medicines for Sun Damage

High on the list of skin conditions that affect our lips are herpes simplex, also called cold sores; perleche, which is due to a skin yeast infection; and solar cheilitis, which is sun damage on the lips.

The good news is that Dermatologists now have a growing number of effective medications to help manage and at times to actually cure these common conditions.

Herpes simplex is also called cold sores, and it is an outbreak of blisters often affecting the lips but at times also in the genital area. Herpes is due to a virus that spreads between people with kissing or skin to skin contact. Some people with herpes develop only a single episode, but others develop multiple episodes, and some become carriers of the virus, meaning that they can spread it even between episodes or outbreaks.

A person (above) with typical herpes simplex or cold sores.

The good news about herpes is that Dermatologists now have three prescription tablets that can speed up healing from herpes blisters, and we also have an effective topical ointment.

Perleche, or angular cheilitis, is a type of skin yeast infection or Candida infection that can linger for weeks to months on the lips. Symptoms include red flaky areas around the lips, particularly the corners of the lips, sometimes resulting in cracking of the lips, or even fissures in the lips that can bleed.

We Dermatologists often take a skin test called a fungal culture to help pin down the cause of lips rashes including perleche. Management of perleche can involve one of several prescription topical creams or ointments and sometimes a course of one of three oral medicines to help to clear this condition.

A person (above) with typical skin yeast infection.

Solar cheilitis, or actinic cheilitis, is the development of rough dry areas on the lips due to thickening of the outmost layers of the skin from exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or from tanning salons. Dermatologists often use an office treatment with what’s called liquid nitrogen or cryotherapy to affected areas to allow new skin to develop there. Other treatments can include one of four different prescription reams, such as fluorouracil, tretinoin cream, isoeugenol cream, or imiquimod cream.

In 2016, after 25 years of practicing dermatology, I formed a company called Big River Silk Skincare Inc. ( to help people to smooth the skin of the lip area with a Glycolic Acid -containing cream called GLYCOSHEA® Facial&Neck Cream. GlycoShea could be called a type of wrinkle cream or anti-wrinkle cream, and it has a side-benefit in that it tends to promote more even skin color and better skin texture.

George Woodbury Jr. M.D. (11/18/2018)

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