I have had this problem for years, and over the last 4 years I have just about fixed the problem.
The cause was set off by sectio of top lip peeling in centre, which got worse, constant peeling daily. until it spread across top lip where it meets bottom. Due to the change in skin and its roughness/stickyness, the problem was transferred to the bottom lip causing layers of skin to be removed. Then as the process developes, so did my attention to the issue, with more licking, picking and general attention. It got very bad, and was mostly evident through the years 21-25. With the skin so fragile on both lips anything would worson the problem, including kissing, sun exposure, winter months.
For me it went on a weekly basis where over the weekend I would drink and party causing severe dehydration. Id work 5 days a week full time and by Tuesday wednesday the lips would be plastic like aweful and swollen. THen by thurs friday the laers would crack and allow peeling off. then the process would start again. each time it would be worse of better according to what i drank, if i kissed, picked, what i ate and the time of the year. Summer is always great. Once the damage is intititally done, it is my view that the lips become irritated by many things that previously never caused concern.
So firstly I had to stop the cycle and allow some recovery by being patient and not licking/picking. Then manage the recovery by reducting irritants. I went through all types of balms and ointments over many years, along with Depression
and all that is assicuated with this disorder.
I went to Grants herbal mineral tooth paste. http://www.grantsofaustralia.com.au/herbalAndMineralToothpaste.html
normal tooth paste and mouth wash is too harsh and helped cause the problem I think. I have since always used Grants. After all lip balms I found this which I would recommend 100%. the best balm you can get which really has made this manageable over the years. - Cancer council lip balm http://shop.cancercouncil.com.au/p-258-ultra-spf30-lip-balm-4g.aspx
Then I had to realise that the dry sections that peel are like cullases.. they reduce with less wear. What helped was constantly wetting during morning shower and prompt removal of wet problem sections straight out of shower.
Then I could manage it, and reduce it over time. In the process I could see the effects of certain foods and drinks. Alcohol is a major factor. So are carbohydrate foods like dry wholemeal biscuits, and bread. The main cause for me is Rice. Rice tends to cause severe irritation/drying of the lips. I now also supplement with Vit D(having noticed benificial effects of sunlight(not excessive)) Zinc (helps tissue repair) and multi vits.
To heal the problem you have to reduce the regularity of the cycle. it is natural for lips to peel prob once a month to some extent. so by taking the effort to reduce the peeling from 3-4 days to weeks is a start.
the main cure is:
*No Rice/carbs/artificial food/spicy food.
*No standard tooth paste and NO MOUTH WASH
* Cancer Coundil Lip Balm
*Water on lips in shower every morning then remove problem areas.
* No sunburn
*Less Alcohol. Lots of water.
*Exercise and positive attitude.