Sore Upper Lip

I have been playing (Practicing) every day for a couple of months. My upper lip feels swollen and sore. Laying off for a day or two does not seem to help. Should I practice more or less? Any tips or exercises ideas? Thanks so much!

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Hallo @Poppo, so schlimm ist ja heftig.
Ich spiele erst seit einigen Wochen, aber außer Sonntags, fast täglich. Am Anfang bemerkte ich auch beginnende Probleme mit der Oberlippe. Seitdem nutze ich vorher und zwischendurch Melkfett bzw. Vaseline. Damit creme ich im normalen Umfang meinen Mund ein.
Außerdem trinke ich zwischendurch immer wieder Wasser. Nachdem Motto:“Wer gut schmiert, der gut fährt”. Wichtig ist dabei die Harmonika sauber zu halten und zwischendurch und danach abzuweichen.
Ich nutze sowohl bei meinen C Harps einen Holz- als auch Kunststoffkamm.
Ganz zu Beginn hatte ich eine sehr, sehr preiswerte Harmonika. Bei dieser hatte ich auch Probleme mit meiner Lippe. Sie war am Metallrand oben minimal unsauber gearbeitet, was nicht gut tat. Als Übergang habe ich mir da genau am Rand entlang, einen Streifen durchsichtige Klebeband (Büro) geklebt. Das Problem war behoben.
Vielleicht schreibst du uns noch, welche Harmonika du spielst? Viele kennen sich hier damit gut aus und kennen die eventuellen kleinen Tücken.

Gute Besserung wünsche ich dir!
Viele Grüße von Astrid

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I agree with @AstridHandbikebee63 . Maybe try using some vaseline or lip balm.

I never have problems with my upper lip, but I think it’s because I don’t really use my upper lip as in I keep it as relaxed as I can, while still maintaining the proper embouchure for single notes.

But I agree it’s a good thing to moisturise your lips (which I sadly don’t do often because of sensory issues) and hydrate

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Stimmt, was du schreibst @Vibe, ich achte inzwischen auch verstärkt darauf, meine Oberlippe auf die Harmonica zu setzen und nicht mehr davor. So kann ich besser beim Spielen gleiten.
Erinnert mich immer an diese Stoppersocken… :grin: Damit kann man auch nicht über das Parkett gleiten.
Schönes Wochenende!

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Yes, what kind of harmonica are you playing?

I’m guessing that it’s what we call a “tin sandwich” style harmonica where the reed plate is exposed between the cover plate and the comb, and that is making your lips sore. When I play harps that are made like that they make my upper lips sore.

Also, if it’s a wooden comb, that could be it!

Keep us posted…

Aloha,
Luke

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I have several harps. A (newly acquired) Lee Oskar 1910 LC, a Bushman Delta Frost G, a Fender Blues Deluxe C are the ones I play most. I also have Hohner Hot Metal C and a Hohner Sousa Band C that I occasionally play. The Fender and Hot Metal are from your company. All 5 have Black Plastic Combs, Stainless Steel Cover Plates and are of VERY similar construction. Close visual inspection reveals no gaps in any of them. I have dentures, but do not wear them when playing a Harp. I have a mustache, but it almost never gets “caught”. I honestly believe that I am playing with a relaxed mouth and have the harp quite “deep” in my mouth with a slight upward tilt. I am pretty successful in playing single notes but do find that I need to lick my upper lip to keep it sliding easily. That is, my upper lip seems to drag somewhat, which may be the root of my problem. I certainly do not have a problem with too much saliva! I have experimented with holding the harp with the right higher holes) end slightly elevated, which I think actually helps. Thanks!

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OK so it’s not the harmonica. The soreness is on the skin, not muscular soreness, correct? Are you in a dry climate? Have you tried putting on a little lip balm, as @AstridHandbikebee63 suggested?

LMK.

Rock on,
Luke

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Hallo @Poppo,
vielleicht solltest du es wirklich mit dem Klebeband probieren, wie ich es oben schrieb? Zunächst an einer? Auch wenn du nicht allergisch auf Metall reagierst, die Schleimhaut im Mund ist schon etwas empfindlicher und durch Medikamente wird sie sensibler.
Vielleicht kann dir auch ein Zahnarzt einen Tipp geben?
Mit tut es leid, dass du solche Probleme hast. So macht es keine richtige Freude zu spielen.
Viele Grüße von Astrid

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I am language challenged, limited to English, so I do not know what Astrid suggested, I think he might be recommending Vaseline, which I have tried both on the outside and inside of the lip. I also use chap stick. I don’t want to take a chance on fouling up my reeds, so try not to overdo either. I do get a little muscular soreness from bending, which I find very challenging. But the soreness am talking about here is the skin. Basically I am struggling with the upper lip embouchure. Thanks.

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Hello @Poppo, yes Vaseline, nothing with perfume. But only outside please!
There has to be enough water inside or enough saliva.
I also had problems with my upper lip at the beginning because of the metal plate. That’s why I attached a narrow strip of clear adhesive tape along the edge.
Perhaps the dentist can also give you a tip?
My mouth is also often problematic from medication.
I hope you get the problem right!
Sorry for the language. I have summarized everything here again.
Many greetings from Astrid

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Thank you so much for taking the trouble to not only answer me but to also translate for me. I will try the adhesive tape. I assume that would be the old style, not the newer “magic” tape. I think I have some of each. I am about to turn 80 and I do take a number of different meds.
God Bless You! Poppo

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Hey @Poppo - I’ve exhausted all of my solutions to the problem. I pray that you can find a solution that doesn’t require you to play less!

Rock on,
Luke

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Thanks. I will keep playing, maybe I will “toughen up”. When I was a kid I was a very good accordionist, tried the trumpet, but had trouble with my embouchure. I think my lip was too ‘fat’.

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Hi @Poppo,

I also cannot really suggest anything new here except maybe one thing: do not put too much lip pressure onto the harp. Again, relaxation is the key. With enough saliva (which may be the real problem because of your medications, many of which can reduce saliva production :angry: ) to maintain a “seal” to prevent air from slipping between your lips and the harp’s surface, is about all that I can imagine might help you. :thinking:

Let us know if you make progress and how that progress was achieved.

Regards,
– Slim

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Luckily, harmonica embouchure nowhere near as demanding as trumpet embouchure! Keep looking down and playing the harmonica!

Rock on,
Luke

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Hallo @Poppo,
yesterday and today I got the same problem with my upper lip as you did.
The reason I made french fries. In the end, of course, made SALT over it.
Otherwise I also use salt when cooking, but not at the end.
I can imagine that you also have salt or other spices and thus cause the constant problem with your upper lip.

Many greetings from Astrid

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Good observation by Astrid @AstridHandbikebee63 concerning salt. I too sometimes notice irritation following my (over-)use of salt (or after eating potato chips)-- but, interestingly, only irritation on the inner side of my lips (right where the “dry” part of the red lip changes to become the moist inner side). Could this be the problem for you @Poppo as well ?? :thinking:

Regards,
– Slim

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That is where I have my problem also, extending probably 3/8" or so into the inner side of the lip. I use almost NO salt. A small bag of potato chips lasts my wife and me 5 or 6 weeks. My only use of salt in cooking is in pasta water. I do take a large number of Rx medicines for Pain, COPD, Heart stabilization, and general old age stuff. Thanks for all the suggestions, guys, I really appreciate it.

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Hi @Poppo,

OK, from what you tell us about your medicines, I am almost certain that one or more of them is the cause of your trouble.

Do not change dosage or anything except upon the advice of your MD. :point_left: :warning:

However, I would suggest that the next time you speak with your MD you should mention the problem and perhaps there is another medication that could replace one of those you are now using, would have the same health benefits but less or no lip problems as a side-effect. :partying_face: Let’s hope so in any case!

Regards,
– Slim

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@Poppo I also get dry, cotton mouth (though admittedly probably for different reasons :see_no_evil::hear_no_evil::speak_no_evil:). I find having a nice cool glass of water by my side helps tremendously to keep my mouth fresh and moist.

Maybe this seems too obvious, but I also have had sore, dry lips after playing for a long time. Licking them seems to only make the problem worse and for some reason I’ve never been a fan of lip balms or Chapstick.

Maybe we need to just tough it out, keep a “stiff upper lip”, but relaxed, as @Luke suggests :joy: and build up callouses on our lips as guitar players do on their fingers :joy:. Just kidding, that sounds painful hahaha.

Water works best for me to keep my lips slip sliding along da harp :wink:.

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