I did pick at my lips. Not only to remove the older scabs periodically; but also as a automatic reflex during the day - a bad habit I have tried very hard not to engage in.
However during the first 6 months however I didn't remove the scabs much until they were practically ready to drop off by themselves - at one point my entire lower lip was covered by a thick yellow brown scab which was hard not to get food stains over - demoralizing to say the least. Another time my 3 year old daughter accidentally knoccked off a 2 week scab when we were playing rough-and-tumble. Anyhow the point is I've both had periods where I've left and removed. So I'm not sure how much information can be gleened from my approach in this regard.
On the other hand, other then coconut oil I haven;t used any lip balm - and infact didn't apply anything over the past 4 months. And really on used coconut oil for a short period between feb-april.
Would say however if you do pick / apply creams you need to be extra careful not to have germs come in contact - its all to easy to get a Staph infection.
I also believe that not continuously looking in the mirror and not evaluating the progress on a continual basis aided the recovery. Infact I stopped thinking about it; I've been extremely busy with other stuff, and only recently it occurred to me that it had improved substantially