Picking, EDS and the Backup Lip Balm

I pick my lips.

I’ve had cold sores since I was little, and picking at them became a habit before I knew what they were. That probably lasted until college, honestly. Like most children of the 80’s, I got them directly from my my mom, who kissed me on the lips.

This story isn’t about cold sores though.

It’s about chapped lips.

My lips are chronically chapped. I think this is common with both EDS (after cursory research) as well as iron deficiency. Add in a couple medications that dehydrate me, and it’s the perfect storm.

When my lips are chapped, they immediately get dry and start to crack and bleed. If I don’t pick at them, it gets worse quickly, as the chapping tends to section off. I need to scrub my lips daily to avoid this and I stay stocked up on lip balm. If I do start picking the dry parts (that can not be moisturized again), I often dig too far. My lips chap and crack so much that I can’t wear matte liquid lipsticks. They dry me out terribly and then that skin just comes off after a while.

The picking is also a nervous habit. I will pick my lips until they bleed from 10 directions if I don’t have a balm around me. You can always tell I’m stressed if you see me doing it, and I can’t stop. If there are no spots to pick, I won’t do it though.

These days I use Burt’s Bees, and only the mint one. I keep trying others but they smell gross or don’t feel right. The Burt’s Bees if applied at night, my lips are still safe in the morning. With other balms and sticks, I have found that I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with my lips splitting and bleeding.

I have a lip balm in every room of the house where I intend to be sitting for any amount of time or sleeping. The most important one is my bedside table. If there’s not one there, there probably isn’t one in the house, which means I’m going to end up a mess.

The second most important balm is the one I keep in the car, and the backup balm.

Why do I need a backup balm?

It’s punishment.

You see, the balm that I keep as a backup is not Burt’s Bees. It’s some other balm that doesn’t really work that well, but I bought it cause it smelled nice or I was trying a new one.

It’s just enough of a balm to keep me from chapping, but I don’t like it as much. It bothers me the whole time I wear it. Too greasy, too light, smell isn’t the best or doesn’t work well with drinks or food. I keep it in my purse cause it’s not going to be used anywhere else. The difference between it and none is that I don’t get chapped but it annoys me enough to remember to grab a Burt’s to throw in my bag.

If I didn’t have a balm at all in my bag, what would happen is what happened tonight.

I’d put on my bedside balm after a bath, and then ended up brushing my teeth and most came off. I thought, oh no big deal, I’ll use my purse one on the way.

In the car, I realized that I’d changed purses and that I had NO balms in this one. I call them chapstick, so that’s what I’ll call it from here on out, even though they are not that brand name.

Posted to Facebook with an Epic Fail image:
“I’m in the car with no chapstick. I don’t even have a backup chapstick”

I immediately started thinking about my lips. They were already starting to hurt. Little dry areas were popping up to be picked so I chose songs to listen to and talked to Brian. I tried to think about eating greasy Korean BBQ at dinner and how that would be soothing. I considered asking Brian to stop at a gas station so I could get some.

During every possible quiet moment at dinner, if you asked me what I was thinking about, I would have said “Chapstick”.

Even with dinner being great, I wasn’t getting any relief. I made a stupid image, a bunch of jokes and I talked to a Slither player about some graphic design stuff.

I briefly considered grabbing a piece of galbi and literally smushing it on my lips, stopped short only by the fact that people would definitely notice.

Once back in the car, my lips were really cracking. I could feel the chapping extending to my skin, where if left alone would eventually crack and bleed, and I’d probably end up with cold sores in the morning, just from stress and angry mouth.

I started picking at them a bit and then biting them, then sat on my hands. I mushed my lips together.

I couldn’t think of anything but chapstick and how much of a mess my lips would be.

Another Facebook Post:

Getting home : Oh my God I’ve missed you!

Brian : We’ve only been gone a couple hours, they are fine -

Me : I’m talking to the chapstick

I get so obsessed with my lips being chapped that I basically blank living my life the entire time. I’d rather be annoyed with crappy chapstick than miss every single conversation or enjoy my dinner. It’s just annoying enough for me to remember.

When I don’t have either, I end up forgetting to put any in my purse, cause once I’m in the house all I do is smush one one and sigh.




I stream art and singing. I write sometimes, rants go here.

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Belinda Short

Belinda Short

I stream art and singing. I write sometimes, rants go here.

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