One of the most common mistakes that most of us make is self-diagnosis. I’m going to hold my hands up and say this is exactly what I’ve been doing for the past few months, and if I hadn’t then there would have been far less discomfort. This isn’t going to be a post about pretty or fancy products…
It’s a bit late but I still wanted to share my experience below.
Back in October 2020 I posted about Lip Balms that actually work (see https://wordpress.com/posts/alanasbeauty.com) where my lips had been complaining about having dry, burning lips for a few weeks at that point. The post was centred around Dr Organic lip balms being the only balm to give me relief (at that point). I still stand by the fact that these balms are really good and they’re a staple in my skincare collection, but they didn’t help fix my problem long term.
Since writing that post, I still found that if I hadn’t smothered my lips in a balm for more than a couple of hours, they would be back to feeling sore and angry with me, so I was on a quest to find a lip balm that really fixed them long term.
Long story short; I didn’t.
I got so fed up of constantly having to wear lip balm and not being able to wear any kind of lipstick/gloss for months on end, that back at the end of March/early April 2021 I made an appointment with my GP. At this point I was also getting red patches on my face that were textured with dry skin. It was almost like these little patches were hot, dry patches which made it pretty difficult to wear base makeup without accentuating the horrible, dry texture. Needless to say, no moisturiser, serum, or even a minimalist routine was doing the trick.
He explained that sometimes if people lick their lips too often, a fungus develops (gross, right?) which could be sorted with a steroid cream. I did a course of this cream for 3 weeks and it seemed to be doing the trick, until after a couple of days since finishing the treatment my lips flared up with a vengeance.
I was straight back on the phone with the Dr and he suggested I get a blood test to find out what underlying issue is causing this. Fun for someone with a phobia of needles, right?! I got my results the next day: the Dr had texted me to let me know that I have a vitamin D deficiency and that he has prescribed some supplements for me to pick up from my pharmacy.
After about 3 weeks and my lips are still sensitive and can get slightly sore when I eat the wrong stuff (spice!), but it took time. There was a massive improvement as I barely wore lip balm again through desperation at that point. It was so nice to feel ‘normal’ again! The dry patches were on their way out as well (I’m waiting to receive a vitamin D-rich moisturiser to help speed up the process) but it wasn’t 100% sorted.
Apparently upwards of 50% of European adults are deficient in vitamin D (!!), and the UK is particularly bad for it because of our geographical positioning and weather (thanks, rain). I’m sure most of you are aware that the majority of your vitamin D intake is from the sun.
Then came the kicker – just when I thought I was on the mend after my vitamin D deficiency diagnosis I got another call from the Dr: I have coeliac disease! This actually came as a relief for me as I had been suffering for years with various issues that have disappeared since going on a gluten free diet and I’d been to the Dr about it years ago (before they really knew enough about it), but that’s a story for another day. This is likely what made the deficiency even worse: coeliac disease often causes your body to stop absorbing nutrients the way it should if you are eating gluten. I also had a zinc deficiency which was treated later down the line.
Things to be aware of
It is possible to have too much vitamin D – I was on the limit of what you should take each day (4000 IU) so always seek medical guidance, as too much can bring its own problems (as with everything).
It’s also probably appropriate to mention at this time that vitamin D has been proven to be quite effective against Covid and similar illnesses/infections. This is because it helps your immune system in fighting infections, so it really is important to make sure you get enough in general.
What I took away from it
It’s safe to say I shouldn’t wait for months suffering with something and self-diagnosing. Deficiencies and other issues in the body can manifest in strange and surprising ways. I definitely didn’t think dry skin and sore lips were a sign of lacking vitamin D and especially not Coeliac disease, but here I am!
No skincare will fix problems that are coming from within, and sometimes your skin is the messenger to let you know something is up. We have to look after ourselves inside and out. I’m noticeably more motivated and less tired which really makes a difference in my overall wellbeing. I guess the key take-away is that, no matter how many products you use, sometimes there is something else we need to do. Tackle the underlying issue and not the symptoms, and all that…
If you’ve made it this far, that’s great. I hope it’s given someone the nudge they need to get any strange goings-on checked rather than trying to just fix a problem with creams and serums.