What do physicians think about lipstick?

What do physicians think about lipstick?

Posted on February 18, 2012

A little known fact about physicians in training, is that they are taught about the "positive lipstick sign." So along with being taught how to palpate livers, and ausculate heart murmurs, they are taught to notice a person's over all grooming and appearance. The positive lipstick sign means that a woman in the hospital is feeling better and feeling well enough to care about her usual appearance and apply some makeup, including lipstick! And that positive lipstick sign just may be the indicator that she is feeling well enough to be discharged home from the hospital. Women have known for centuries that feeling good and looking well is intertwined.

So, with all the recent hullabaloo in the press with certain lipsticks containing parts per million of lead, what is a woman to do? First of all, do not panic and do not throw away your lipstick. This amount of lead is very, very minute quantities and is not harmful to your health. It is reassuring, though, that the FDA does regulate this. In the past, cosmetics were known to contain potent hormones and phthalates (substances that disrupt hormones in the body) and regulations have been passed that have eliminated this practice.

As far as heavy metals, mercury in fish is a concern, so limits in weekly fish intake are indicated in certain at-risk propulations like pregnant women and young children. Lead poisoning is still a concern, particularly in young children with growing nervous systems who may inadvertantly ingest leaded paint and pediatricians will frequently test young children's blood for lead levels.

As for me, I am about to apply my favorite lipstick and begin my day!

-Dr. Holly L. Thacker

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