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mary k

licking lips - tic or not?

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Hi - i'm new to this forum and it's because of my granddaughter. She will be 5 in May and has VERY chapped lips - looks like red lipstick all around the mouth and onto each cheek too. She will lick and then wipe her mouth with her arms and drag the spittle across her cheeks it seems. My daughter took her to the doc and she said it was a very bad case of ....(a technical word that my daughter couldn't remember) but it meant chapped lips. Then after duscussion with doc, the doc said it sounds like the child has a tic - due to stress, anxiety, etc. and the doc referred my daughter to a behavioral psychologist (i believe, or psychiatrist).


I've been reading up on tics now on the internet and wonder...how do you know if something is a transient tic or nervous habit? All the tics i've read about seem to involve facial muscles and eyes, etc...Have seen nothing about chapped/licking lips.


Ella (the child) has had a tumultuous early childhood...mom and dad not married, back and forth between houses, doesn't get to see her half brother as much as she did in the first 3 years of her life as he has opted to live fulltime with his dad and therefore only visits everyother weekend or so. Maternal grandma (me) has had to move out of state due to work, etc......Anyway it's very difficult for my daughter to see her with this obvious face disfigurement and Ella will not cooperate in applying any medication because it stings/hurts I imagine. Kids at preschool have started to ask her about it too. Ella did this last winter too but it wasn't as bad as this year. Mom thinks it started when she had to leave Ella with dad for a few months due to schooling (altho they did spend weekends and holidays together)...and in a month mom is going to leave her again for job training - 6 wks. Will it get worse? Does she need some other way to self soothe? How can you get mediciine on it if she fights and stresses and cries, etc..adding more stress.


Do you just ignore it and hope it goes away? I've said that I feel they must contact the behavior psychologist and get started on that and maybe get some answers that way....any suggestions?




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My younger son went through this twice so far...bad chapped lips...I now know it was a tic. He, too, would not let me put anything on it. So, when he was sleeping, I lathered the vaseline on. I had to do this about 20 minutes after he fell asleep, if any later, he would wake up when I did it. :blink:

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hi Mary


yes, my son had the lip licking tic as well


sometimes "nervous habits" (for want of a better word) can also be indicative of emotional issues rather than neurological ones so yes, an evaluation by a pediatric psychologist would possibly be insightful in helping the little one

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Hello all,


Thank you for the advice and info. I talked to my daughter (Ella's mom) and over this past weekend, Aunt Callie (our other daugher) convinced Ella that she herself needed to use vaseline on her own chapped lips and this enticed Ella to walk into bathroom and do everything Aunt C did...5 times in one evening - vaseline slathered all over her mouth, chin and cheeks. :) Aunt C said it got rediculous but the 5 yr old went for the creative psychology of her favorite aunt...thank goodness. Anyway today her lips were already looking so much better.


Ella's mom is still making arrangements for the ped psych appt and hopefully that will help too.


Thanks again,


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My son has this as well. His lips and cheeks are constantly chapped, especially during the colder months, and we live in a southern state (thank God!) lol. My husband's neice does this as well, so I think it must be a tic. Someone at school recommended putting some of the diaper rash creams on it and it really did help. The Vaseline is ok, but this was much better. My son still licks his lips, but we now treat it with Boudreaux Butt Paste during the really bad chapping phases. (Took some bribing, but now he is fine with it). Although he still gets red around the lips and sometimes on the cheeks (I told my husband last night that our boy looks like The Joker from Batman, lol), the butt creams really keep it from getting as bad as it was around the holidays.


I've also done the "middle of the night while they're sleeping" trick. Works every time.


(By the way, I don't put the cream right on the lips, just on the skin around the lips and on his cheeks. It doesn't get in his mouth.)


Good luck,


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