I will start with some background. I am a 28yr old male and have had EC since I was 15 or 16. I am unsure of the exact date but it undoubtedly began after my first accutane treatments. My peeling cycle was usually a 3 day cycle, but depending on circumstances could be shortened to a day, and lengthened to 4 or 5 days.
I have spent much time researching this condition. More than I care to calculate! Naturally, I began with consulting with my derm, which led to many years of many derms proving that they were incapable of treating my condition. I have tried many products; Aquaphor, Protopic, multiple steroid creams. Non of them did anything to break the peeling cycle.
About myself: I am married without kids. I don't eat red meat, and avoid overeating, or eating more than should properly fit in my slim stomach. I drink plenty of water. I am an active individual. I work 8 hour days. Try not to sleep longer than 8 hours. Try to get a jog or bike ride in when I can. And my overall attitude to EC has been to not let it affect my outlook on life, and not let it beat me. Even if it meant someone staring at my crusted lips! All of the above healthy life choices that I practice have no effect on EC. The cycle continues like clockwork.
Over the past 3 years, I have done well with moisturizing and gently rubbing off the skin in the morning. I will say that the one good thing my derm has done for me is recommend the product Kinerase Lip Therapy. Now, that is not the product that has stopped the peeling for me, but it is worth noting that for 3 years I found it to be the only product to offer any relief. It is expensive and I had to constantly check ebay for it to drop to $20.
About 4 months ago, I had a below average period of time with my lips and embarked on another online oddysey of EC research. It was this time that I finally registered a username here and queried the forum for recommendations. I received 1 reply(Thanks a lot!). But it was during this time that I was linked to an article on eHow. If you search "exfoliative cheilitis treatment" it is the 2nd result on Google, and 3rd on Yahoo. The eHow article had some surprisingly good tips. It recommended cold compress, which I had already practiced solely for the euphoria of the numbing effect. And it also recommended vinegar which I experimented with for a time and in my opinion had no effect, but nevertheless it is noteworthy that I did try it. But it was the last recommendation in the article that led me to discover the product that has turned out to be a godsend for me. The article recommends using a lactic acid lotion.
As I researched lotions with lactic acid I was intrigued by the Kinerase brand, as I alredy knew that their Lip Treatment product is spectacular. Long story short, their Pro Therapy line has a product with lactic acid. I came to discover that I had numerous samples of Pro Therapy already at my house from freuently purchasing their LipTherapy. Only the product I had: Kinerase Pro Therapy Cream, had citric acid , which after more research is another potent anti-oxidant, which I believe to be better suited to lip treatment than lactic. Anyways, I never ended up trying the lactic acid lotion, as I immediately had excellent results with Pro Therapy cream. That night I put some on my lips and was amazed at how fast this thick cream had been absorbed into the vermilion. The cream is amazingly soothing and promotes a sense of euphoria. My lips peeled maybe twice after, and haven't peeled in 3 months or longer!
My current regimen: lightly apply a small bead of the cream before brushing teeth in AM to protect from harsh chemicals of toothpaste. I let it sit in for 5 minutes while I sit on the John. After brushing teeth I run my lips under running cold water for 10 seconds and gargle the cold water a couple times. I then dry my lips with my hands only, as the natural oil in your hands makes them much more suitable to rub on your lips than any cloth. I reapply a very tiny bead of moisturizer before I shave. I am not sure if it's neccesary, but I continue to follow the regimen, and really just continue to be receptive to the sensation of the vermillion. I don't feel the need to moisturize before shower. But after shower is when I apply a nice liberal layer of moisturizer, about a dime size. It looks weird, so if you're in a public environment this may be a challenge for you. My wife has known about my EC for all 5 years we've known each other, and the cream does absorb fairly quickly, probably within 5-10 minutes. The moisture provided by the cream applied after shower usually holds me over all day and, depending on conditions, I may apply once or twice more during the day. At night, I put a tiny bit of moisturizer on before I brush, and slightly more on afterwards to keep lips moisturized overnight.
What will happen if I stop applying, you ask? During the days my product had ran out and I was waiting for a shipment, my lips started to whiten and the vermilion had a sensation of overall driness. I would have to guess that I would have been peeling after a couple days. So, this is not a cure, it is a treatment.
As I am reading back now, that is a lot of text. But I told myself that if I was going to do this I would be thorough to the point that it did not need additional follow up from the myself. There are only so many hours to a day and I am a busy person. I will try to check back here as it would make me feel good to know that I have helped someone.
Having read on here for long enough, I know that anyone who posts on here is met with skepticism, and rightfully so. I do not sell this product, so this post was not for my personal gain. In fact, I was thinking of not posting, as I wanted to wait a full year before I determined that this product was worth recommending. It was one of the more recent posts in the forum from an individual describing a feeling of "death in his bead" that prompted a feeling of responsibility to you all that I share this information.
I had been checking back at the forum because around the time I had started my research for a new moisturizer, was the same time that someone had posted about their experience with Tretinoin. While there is still a desire to find a product that heals EC to the effect that it does not need a daily regimen, having read all of the posts re; Tretinioin, I would say that I am not willing to try it. Tretinoin is a drying agent, which is why some other posters have stated that their lips crack to a more severe extent. Which is what I had suspected when I first read about it. But when you're desparate for a cure, you will listen to near anything.
To all the other posters who seek treatments in "alternative medicine," while I cannot fault anyone for thinking outside the box. Most of what I have read from folks on here is just ludicrous, and really just lacks common sense. Again, I can't fault you for trying, but please take my word and just find yourself a good moisturizer!
Now the one question I am SURE will reply to this post if I don't address it is: Can you send us some pictures? I do not have any pictures. Frankly, I find it odd to picture your own lips. That's just me. I also do not own a digital camera. But if you can't take my word after taking the time to elaborately explain my story, then what are you searching for in this forum?
I hope this will help someone as I have spent near 40 minutes composing this post! I ask that people avoid asking needless questions. The replies I will like to read would be from people who try the product. Really give the product 2-3 weeks before you make any determination,as that is when the peeling cycle stopped for me.
EC is a struggle, I know. I don't know how many people the Pro Therapy will work for, or even how many of you will try it. So, if anything, I would like to contribute some general advice for life with EC: Drink plenty of water, don't overeat, definitely do not eat salted foods, avoid dairy best you can, or be sure to wash lips with cold water and immediate moisturize following dairy contact, and be as active as you can! Find an activity you can commit to, and do it as often as your schedule allows! Lastly, if I can contribute anything, it would be to try and stay as positive as you can and not let EC get the best of you!