Have you ever gotten cold or canker sores from cheek biting or lip picking? Let me tell you how most of my blisters and sores result directly from my Body-focused Repetitive Behaviors and how I got them under control.
Since my youth, I’ve struggled A LOT with painful sores on my lips and the inside of my cheeks.
It took me ages to make the connection that I get cold sores from lip picking and canker sores from cheek biting.
I’m glad I’ve reached a point in my BFRB recovery where I rarely get them anymore (knock on wood).
Below I’ll show you what I’ve learned and which BFRB coping methods have worked so far.
Getting cold sores from lip picking and lip biting
As a teenager, I got one cold sore after the other. I already got a new one before the previous one was fully healed
Picking my lips made the cold sores get bigger and out of control. It got so bad over a weekend that I went to the hospital, where I got a prescription drug. Since then, I’ve made sure to always have the medication at home.
Finally, in my twenties, I realized that when I’m nervous or worried, I pick my lips or bite the inside of my lips. And whenever my lips bleed, I get cold sores quickly.
At the time, I didn’t know how to control the lip picking and lip biting nor the emotions that caused the behavior.
Fortunately, with the help of some coping methods, I rarely get cold sores anymore. In this post, I will share the coping techniques that have worked well for me so far.
4 ways to help with lip picking and not get cold sores
1. Moisturizing lips:
I apply lip balm every other hour or so. Moisturizing lips helps prevent chapping and mask rough patches—the stickier and thicker the lip balm, the better. When you unconsciously touch your lips, the tacky consistency reminds you not to. I mainly use Vaseline Lip Therapy, but please comment below if you have better recommendations!
2. Exfoliating lips:
My lips’ rough and cracked skin triggers the urge to pick and bite. To smooth the skin, I exfoliate it with a mixture of honey and sugar (2/1). Don’t overdo it—you shouldn’t do it more than once a week!
3. Wearing finger cover:
I wear finger covers as a barrier against picking the skin around my fingers. But they also help against mindless lip picking. Wearing a thumb cover makes picking impossible!
4. Fidget toy for busy hands:
Fidget toys are always helpful to keep the hand busy and from feeling the skin on the arm, face or lips which triggers the picking urge.
Getting canker sores from cheek biting
I don’t even know when I started biting my cheeks. I engaged in that BFRB without noticing it. I often got painful canker sores, but it took me forever to realize that I got them from cheek biting.
It usually starts by nibbling the insight right corner of my lip. The rough skin then triggers to bite even more and increases the urge to create a smooth surface. And this is where the never-ending biting cycle begins.
Cheek biting is the most accessible BFRB for me, and that’s probably why I do it most to seek comfort and relieve frustration, anxiety, and overwhelm.
I find cheek biting particularly difficult to control as it’s nearly impossible to create barriers and easy to hide the damage.
I got my cheek biting somewhat under control—more nibbling than biting—through awareness and these BFRB coping methods.
5 ways to control cheek biting to avoid canker sores
1. Rinsing with Mouthwash:
Mouthwash has a burning sensation. Despite the slight discomfort, I rinse my mouth with it until the burn fades away. I feel like it distracts a bit from the urge to bite.
2. Wearing a mouthguard
The mouthguard is the ultimate barrier against biting your cheeks, lips, and nails. I wear it to prevent cheek biting and to give the skin a chance to heal when it’s too late.
3. Nibbling & Snacking:
Chewing gum, hard candy, or the intense sensation of sour candy are the good old classics to keep the mouth busy or distracted. Healthier alternatives include snacking on nuts and sunflower seeds or crunchy veggies like carrots, celery sticks, or kohlrabi. (Hunger is also one of my BFRB triggers, so snacks help with that too!)
4. Chewy fidget toys:
Snacking obviously is not a long-term solution, so I often use a chewy fidget toy to get the nervous energy out of my jaw. It sometimes helps to curb the urge to bite.
5. Puffing out my cheeks
I puff out my cheeks when I notice that I bite my cheeks. This little pause allows me to create awareness of what I am doing. I find it especially helpful when I’m out and about.
Wrinkles from making weird shapes with my mouth
I don’t know if it’s age, but certain lines around my mouth seem to be caused by my mouth distorting when I bite my cheeks.
I have no solution for that. But I’ll just leave that statement here as it is. Maybe it serves as a motivator or reminder not to bite your cheeks 😉