SYOS

Bad bottom lip rash after practicing. Help!?

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,418
Location
Victoria BC Canada
Speculating on what it might be is rather pointless. If I understand @cailinrabie correctlywhe went to a dermatologist who made a diagnosis based on visual symptoms. To eliminate the possiblility of some infection of some sort go to a GP get a swab of the area taken and find out for sure. As has been pointed out putting a steroidal cream on if there is an infection present is counterproductive.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
22,004
Location
Just north of Munich
1 see a dermatologist, not a GP,
2 ignore most of what's in the thread. Ivan does know what he's talking about, though.
3 look at your embouchure, does look as if your taking in too much lip over the bottom teeth, despite the advice you mentioned. This looks as if you're playing clarinet, not sax.
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,418
Location
Victoria BC Canada
@kevgermany I beleive shw wrote that she's been to a dermatologist...either they were in a hurry or???? These days with all the mutations of viral and bacterial infections its always smart to rule out the outliers.
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,112
Location
West Midlands
I do think you need another visit to the dermatologist but you really need to be taking some time away from playing, may'be try a week and see if it gets better, human saliva is full of bacteria which is fine in the mouth but not so good in open wounds, I can't believe your Uni has not stepped in and suggested this, sometimes a break does you good and you come back refreshed.
 
Last edited:
OP
cailinrabie

cailinrabie

New Member
Messages
20
Location
Stellenbosch
Hydrocortisone or Betnovate (both steroidal creams/ointments) will clear that up in no time at all. However, you need to let the medication do its job and that means taking a break from playing. If all goes well it may be less than a week. If you're unlucky, two weeks. If you don't let it heal, especially doing 5 hours every day, it simply never will.

And once you're healed, you can then find the cause.

Are you biting?
Are you playing while rarely taking the mouthpiece out of your mouth so the reed and lip is constantly wet, causing chapping?
Is the reed too rough?
Are you playing for too long?
Is your emboucher too tense?
Are you taking too much lip over your bottom teeth?

I also suffer from sore/damaged bottom lip from time to time, too. Thankfully it's become less frequent but it still happens. Oddly enough, when I first started, I had irritation in exactly the same place as you.

For me the solutions were to not let the reed become too wet when practising for long periods of time, relax my emboucher (otherwise you're basically grinding your lip into the reed) and play with a much more 'lip out' technique. I always polish my reeds on paper, which helps a lot and I always address any soreness before it becomes a problem. Usually this is little more than lip balm and a day or two off from playing.

When I saw your pictures, I saw chapping that hadn't been allowed to heal. First the skin becomes dry. If it's not addressed immediately, that dry skin starts to itch. Once the itching starts the skins becomes red and inflamed. At this point there is no other option than to stop irritating it. The weeping you describe is the skin trying to heal.

Imagine you have an itch on your finger caused by a piece of grass tickling the skin. Rather than remove the grass you scratch the itch. And then continually scratch that itch for the next two months. You can imagine what the skin on your finger will look like. That's what you're doing with your lip. The reed is constantly rubbing the already sore and delicate skin.

When you started your BMus, did your practise regime suddenly jump from an hour or two every day to five? That's a big jump and would explain the sore lip. Continuing to play for five hours a day explains why it's not had chance to heal.

Did you go from playing relatively quietly in your practise room to regularly playing at volume with other musicians? This would also explain how the lip initially became sore. And, again, if you continued to play at volume without allowing the healing process to take its course, why it's still a problem now.


Have you changed instrument or had it checked for leaks? These may sound like strange questions but I recently changed instrument and found my new sax allowed me to radically relax my emboucher. My old tenor had no leaks yet when I went back to it I found I had to put a lot more effort into playing it. My lip is a much happier appendage now thanks purely to my new horn. ;)
Thanks for the long and thoughtful reply! I will definitely try all of tips and advice thanks. I haven't changed any of my gear in a while so I don't think that's a cause. I do practice for long periods without drying the reed.. I've heard that saliva and constantly wet lips/chin can cause a rash! So I think I'll try sandpapering and drying the reed more frequently! Thanks again it's much appreciated
 
OP
cailinrabie

cailinrabie

New Member
Messages
20
Location
Stellenbosch
Ignore this comment, just realised you would probably be on your summer break.
Our uni years in SA are very different to European/American ones, so I'm not on break at the moment. I took a break from playing in the jazz band last week, but unfortunately my solo stuff has to go on. I'm playing a concerto in 2 weeks time so a break wouldn't be ideal
 
OP
cailinrabie

cailinrabie

New Member
Messages
20
Location
Stellenbosch
Thanks everyone for the replies, it's much appreciated! I'm going to try all the suggestions and let you know the result!
Another trip to a dermatologist and gp is definitely in order too.
 

spike

Old Indian
Subscriber
Messages
2,112
Location
Half way up a hill
I think I'll try sandpapering
I had your problem a few years ago. GP's and several derma-gurus didn't help :(
You have to look very closely at your diet, oral hygiene, etc. just everything and try to pinpoint anything that makes a difference.
At that time I worked on my reeds, by either sanding or scraping.
Get hold of a magnifying glass and check out a reed surface after sanding. You'll see lots've fine hairs protruding from the fibers.
If your problem is the result of a contact irritation that may well be the source.
I don't work on my reeds anymore and haven't had a recurrence since I stopped.
My lip at the time looked exactly like your pics. I do hope you find a cure. I know it hurts.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,149
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I think @kevgermany has a point with regard to the cause. Typically the saxophone mouthpiece goes straight into the mouth or tilted down a very small amount. When playing in this position and rolling the lower lip back just enough to cover the bottom teeth, the rough surface of the reed does not touch the skin below the lip.

On occasion when I play clarinet for long periods of time, the downward angle sometimes allows the area right below my lower lip to come in contact with the reed which creates an irritation of the hair follicles. Once the problem heals I would recommend checking the angle of the mouthpiece when you play and making sure you are not rolling too much of the lip over the teeth.
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,418
Location
Victoria BC Canada
Or try Legere Signature (I'm not sponsored) at least they can be properly sterilized and dont need all the fussing. I cant (even on a recording) tell the difference from cane 3 feet away. Near field I think I hear a difference but that could just be my imagination.:p:p
 

Veggie Dave

Sax Worker
Messages
2,910
Location
Citizen of Nowhere
So I think I'll try sandpapering
Not sandpaper, plain paper. You only want to polish the reed's surface, not change how it plays. Polishing the surface is supposed to close the fibres of the reed, making it less absorbent and more responsive. This may well be true (it certainly seems to be), however the side effect is that the surface of the reed becomes much, much less abrasive.

I was going to write a long description but someone's already done it: Sax Reed Polishing

I would say that you can just turn the reed over to polish the vamp side on the flat paper rather than how he does it, but either way the reed will feel much more comfortable. And possibly last longer and be more responsive, too. :thumb:
 
Top Bottom