Health Tips for Seniors


Archive for January, 2006



Diseases of the lips – Trauma, Fissures, Leukoplakia

Trauma. The lips, in plain sight and the center of much activity during life, usually have suffered bruising, biting, chafing and often a cut or two. Aside from scar formation and possible mild deformity which would result, trauma to the lips heals quickly and is seldom serious. Severe lacerations of the lips obviously requires surgical repair.

Cracked and Fissured Lips. Cracking of the lips, with deep fissure formation frequently results from exposure to sunlight and cold, and can be very painful and smile-preventing. It is seldom serious and heals quickly when protected with pomade or skin cream.

Cracking in the corners of the mouth in adult people often indicates ariboflavinosis, a vitamin B deficiency. When the cracking accompanies malnutrition or disease resulting from an inadequate diet, healing of the corners of the mouth usually responds readily to an adequate diet containing sufficient vitamin B.

Leukoplakia. A milky-colored coating, of a slightly thickened nature on the wet inner aspect of the lips, is the appearance of leukoplakia, considered to be a pre-cancerous condition. It can occur in other areas of the mouth, besides the lips, and is often associated with the use of tobacco in any of its forms. Leukoplakia conditions call for ceasing the use of tobacco and usually the removal of these lesions by surgery or cautery. Mouth cleanliness also becomes a matter of concern, and routine oral hygiene becomes imperative.




Examining the Lips for problems

Examination of the Lips

The lips are examined also in a close-up mirror with the aid of a good light. If artificial dentures are used, they should be removed for better inspection of the lips’ inner surface.

1. Closely examine the lips externally and internally. Note any area of bluish discoloration or a whitish leathery formation especially on the inner aspect of the lips. These findings may represent birth mark discoloration or leukoplakia.


Fig. 23. The lips are the junction between the external skin and the internal lining of the body, called the mucosa. Because they are a sensitive region, the lips play a great role in routine living, as well as disease.

2. Note any definite cracking in the skin in the corners of the mouth where the lips join. Cracking here may have definite meaning in vitamin deficiency.

3. Look closely along the lip surface for any cracking, bleeding points, ulcer or long unhealed sores. They may represent fissure in the lips or cancer in this location.

4. Observe the contour and motion of the lip. Note any paralysis, drooling saliva, or weakness in the lip movement. Compress the lips, smile widely, bare the teeth, and pucker the lips as in whistling position.
Inability to perform these lip actions, may represent facial paralysis, a stroke or possibly complex nerve disease within the body.




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