Your lips are made of a thin layer of skin and do not contain oil glands, which means they do not have a way to keep themselves moisturized and are at risk of becoming dry and chapped. Symptoms of chapped lips include dry lip skin, cracking or peeling skin, itching, tightness, and mild pain or discomfort.
Why do your lips get dry or chapped?
The most common causes for dry, chapped lips, also known as cheilitis, include when your lips are exposed to cold weather, wind, UV rays from the sun, and licking your lips. Other causes include medications, dehydration, contact with an allergen, vitamin deficiencies, bacterial or yeast infections, or certain medical conditions such as autoimmune disorders or thyroid disease.
How do you treat chapped lips?
Dry, chapped lips may be a nuisance, especially in the winter months, but rest assured that the following recommendations can help transform those dry, cracked lips into soft lips year-round:
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and help prevent dry lips.
- Avoid licking or picking at your lips. Although it may feel good to lick your dry lips, the saliva from your mouth can dry your lips even more.
- Use non-irritating lip balms. Find products that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. Ingredients that can help heal chapped lips include castor seed oil, ceramides, petrolatum, mineral oil, shea butter, white petroleum jelly, and dimethicone.
- Avoid the use of ingredients that may irritate already chapped lips. If you have chapped lips, avoid the following ingredients to help your lips heal: eucalyptus, flavoring, fragrance, menthol, lanolin, oxybenzone or octinoxate, phenol, salicylic acid, and camphor.
- Protect your lips from harmful UV rays. Use a non-irritating lip balm with SPF 30 or higher containing either titanium oxide or zinc oxide.
- Use a humidifier at home. Using a humidifier in your room while you sleep can help provide extra moisture to the dry air, especially in winter months.
Do I need to see a healthcare provider for my chapped lips?
Dry, chapped lips are usually harmless and with the right treatment, will resolve without having to see a healthcare provider. If your chapped lips last more than a few weeks, worsen, or if you are also experiencing other symptoms, you should reach out to your healthcare provider or dermatologist for further evaluation.