No truth to "lip balm addiction"

January 26, 2009 2:30:03 PM PST
Attached to your Chapstick? Bound to Blistex? If you can't leave home without it, are you addicted?

Every winter, some people slather on lip balm *several times throughout the day.

Some believe the lip balms are addictive.

There's plenty of online chatter from self-proclaimed lip balm addicts. One website, called Lip Balm Anonymous, even calls on companies to end production of the popular products.

Karen Buckelew, a long-time lip balm user, says, "As soon as the lip balm wears off, I need to put more on."

But, skin experts say there is no hard, scientific evidence of a problem

.

Dr. Marcia Driscoll, a University of Maryland dermatologist, says, "True addiction is thought of as something that is a physical dependence. That is, that if you take away the lip balm, would the person have a withdrawal syndrome?"

They say the urge is a psychological dependence - a habit. People get used to the feeling that the balms create.

But some products contain fragrances or phenol, which can chap the lips, and lead to more lip balm use. Dr. Driscoll says lanolin and sunscreens can also be irritants. Also sun, wind, cold temperatures, lip licking, toothpaste, and even dental floss can cause problems

So switching to a product with petroleum jelly or beeswax might help soften your lips, AND break the habit.

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