Tutorials

Bad bottom lip rash after practicing. Help!?

cailinrabie

New Member
Messages
20
Location
Stellenbosch
Hi all

I have been playing sax for over 10 years, and over the last year I have started to develop a seriously bad rash/irritation/blisters on and below my bottom lip after practicing. It is so sore, with a burning sensation and it itches as well. It is red and also very dry and scaly, and during the night it weeps and I wake up with a crust over the lip. I will attach pictures, sorry if they look a bit gross! I have tried every different cream and nothing seems to help. Is there anyone who has experienced something similar or has any suggestions?? I am so, so desperate, because I am studying a BMus and specialising in performance, so I have to practice for hours each day.

Warm regards
Cailin Rabie
 

Halfers

Finger Flapper
Subscriber
Messages
1,389
Location
Hampshire
Sounds nasty.

I've experienced the same, but I put it down to being a beginner and in honesty, I've not had issues over the past Year or so and put it down to a more developed and perhaps relaxed embouchure.

It's not nice though as any kind of injury to the lip doesn't respond well to the flexing of the lip muscles whilst playing. Sounds an obvious suggestion, but have you seen a Doctor? Maybe you've developed an intolerance to cane (if that's possible). Do you get Cold Sores? Maybe you're developing those and it seems as though the reed is causing the irritation.

The only thing I tried was a lip balm to try and moisturise the skin.
 
OP
cailinrabie

cailinrabie

New Member
Messages
20
Location
Stellenbosch
Sounds nasty.

I've experienced the same, but I put it down to being a beginner and in honesty, I've not had issues over the past Year or so and put it down to a more developed and perhaps relaxed embouchure.

It's not nice though as any kind of injury to the lip doesn't respond well to the flexing of the lip muscles whilst playing. Sounds an obvious suggestion, but have you seen a Doctor? Maybe you've developed an intolerance to cane (if that's possible). Do you get Cold Sores? Maybe you're developing those and it seems as though the reed is causing the irritation.

The only thing I tried was a lip balm to try and moisturise the skin.
It is becoming such a huge issue, as practicing is becoming really painful. I have also thought it may be an allergy to the cane. Yes, I have been to a dermatologist, but the cream and advice she provided hasn't seemed to help at all. I am trying to get an appointment with someone else, but every seems to be fully booked until end of October!
 

Halfers

Finger Flapper
Subscriber
Messages
1,389
Location
Hampshire
It is becoming such a huge issue, as practicing is becoming really painful. I have also thought it may be an allergy to the cane. Yes, I have been to a dermatologist, but the cream and advice she provided hasn't seemed to help at all. I am trying to get an appointment with someone else, but every seems to be fully booked until end of October!
Best of luck.

Have you tried a plastic reed to see if it makes any difference? Even if you can't or won't play with them in a live setting, testing one might help in establishing if Cane is causing the issues.
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
Subscriber
Messages
1,065
Location
Oneonta, NY
I am going through pretty much an identical situation. I developed similar rashlike symptoms. I never suspected my reeds but my dermatologist said it was a contact allergy and gave me Prednisone. He though it was either reeds or toothpaste.

I have also been using the same reeds (Java Green) for a long time. I did try a new toothpaste around the time it started but I realized that I also tried a new dental floss that is waxed. We’re prety sure it’s the rosin.

The steroids have almost completely cleared it up and I switched to unwaxed floss. So far, so good.
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,112
Location
West Midlands
I was going to say the same as Halfers, try synthetic reeds and see if that helps, you could go back to cane once its cleared up.
 

tenorviol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,386
Location
Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
You may wish to consider giving the mouthpiece a thorough clean as well. Probably a visit to the GP to get some suitable treatment and I'd definitely try a plastic reed as it does sound like a reaction to the reeds (they may have changed some aspect of manufacture which has left some residue that you're sensitive to)
 

Veggie Dave

Sax Worker
Messages
2,910
Location
Citizen of Nowhere
My experiences of sore bottom lip have been caused by:

Practising for too long so that I end up rubbing my lip raw.

Practising for too long with a reed that's far more resistant than it should be.

Practising a large number of songs without stopping between tracks (I often play entire sets in one hit in the practise room) so that the reed and my bottom lip are constantly wet, causing chapped lips. This is especially problematic in winter.

The solution is always to let the lip heal. Moisturiser helps the healing, too. If you keep playing, it will keep irritating the skin, vastly slowing down the healing process (if not stopping it completely), which causes burning and itching and possibly even blistering.
 

Pete Effamy

Member
Messages
746
Location
Hampshire
Hi
You mean outside or inside the mouth? Think you mean outside. I had a student once that found cane irritating on the skin. She/we never found a solution.
Have you researched Vandoren reeds to see if they have changed anything with their cane recently? Agree with Halfers that it sounds like an allergy, rather than "injury".
Have you tried 'flattening' or 'burnishing' the face of the reed when new? Put the new reed on the mouthpiece, make it quite wet and push your thumb fairly hardish along the face of the reed from butt to tip.
Apologies if I've repeated what others have said - I only skim-read.
Good luck..
 

Pete Effamy

Member
Messages
746
Location
Hampshire
Practising a large number of songs without stopping between tracks (I often play entire sets in one hit in the practise room) so that the reed and my bottom lip are constantly wet, causing chapped lips. This is especially problematic in winter.
Yes this was true for me too. I was nicknamed "desert lips" at school.
 

Pete Effamy

Member
Messages
746
Location
Hampshire
It is becoming such a huge issue, as practicing is becoming really painful. I have also thought it may be an allergy to the cane. Yes, I have been to a dermatologist, but the cream and advice she provided hasn't seemed to help at all. I am trying to get an appointment with someone else, but every seems to be fully booked until end of October!
Things like this tend to crop up more when people are either preparing to go to music conservatoire or are already at one. At some point during this stage of our learning most people will find it prudent to practice 5-10 hours per day. This will produce a good pro player. To be world class most carry on doing this for the rest of their life.
During this time I, and many others experienced problems inside the lip. I played classical clarinet in music college, not sax. Back in the 80's the solution was folded Rizla cigarette paper over the bottom teeth. Since, they have been found to be carcinogenic! Not sure what my old teacher and others do these days.
My sax embouchure is far more relaxed and this has never become a problem.
Then again, I've never played the sax for 5-10 hours per day...
 

Pete Effamy

Member
Messages
746
Location
Hampshire
bad rash/irritation/blisters on and below my bottom lip after practicing
Reading again: do you mean towards your chin?? If so, this suggests that you're tucking too much lip over your teeth if the cane can come into contact below your lip... Actually - your picture doesn't back this theory up. Discard that..
 
Last edited:

Pete Effamy

Member
Messages
746
Location
Hampshire
Me again...
I think that an easy and quick experiment would be to try non-French cane. Anyone know what cane might be washed in, for example? I know that people have more or less advised the same thing with reference to man-made reeds or plasti-cover reeds, but in my experience - albeit some years ago (Fibracell) and they might be better now - they lack the depth in colour of cane. Great if they assist in a particular type of sound for a style of music, but not the more traditional stuff.
Someone else might have newer info or opinion...
 

Pete Effamy

Member
Messages
746
Location
Hampshire
Actually, a Google search throws up a lot of stuff. I've had another thought - being in a hot and humid climate in SA, is there any chance that something is growing on your reeds after use? How do you store them? One bit of advice on the net was to wash the reed with soap. This reminds me of some advice to revive an old reed - carefully brush the reed with an old toothbrush to remove deposits...
I think that the first thing to look at would be as I said before, possible differences in manufacture/prep of the reed and if anything other than water might be used. There are lots of technical-types on here that probably know exactly what process a reed goes through from being picked to arriving in your local shop. No doubt this is on the net too, unless there is Intellectual Property to protect.
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
Subscriber
Messages
4,847
Location
Bristol, UK
One simple thing to try would be to polish the reed with very fine sandpaper to make it less rough.
However, in my experience this can change the sound a bit.
 

Veggie Dave

Sax Worker
Messages
2,910
Location
Citizen of Nowhere
One simple thing to try would be to polish the reed with very fine sandpaper to make it less rough.
I always smooth both sides of a new, dry reed using normal paper on a flat surface.

Rereading the original post, I am wondering if a small injury/irritation has been slowly acerbated over time due to a rigorous practise regime that is stopping the healing process.
 
Top Bottom