Chapped Lips: Causes, How to Prevent & Remedies

Which one of us did not suffer from dry or chapped lips at some point of his/her life? Whether as children playing outdoors or as adults when the weather changes or we go to another climate zone.

Usually, the treatment for dry lips is pretty simple; apply moisture to the lips by licking them, right? That is exactly what exasperates the situation and turns dry lips into chapped lips.

Let’s imagine you are on a ski vacation, enjoying a great run down the mountain. The cold wind against your face is invigorating but also drying. Your lips dry up faster than the rest of your face, so you do the natural thing. You lick your lips to coat them with saliva. Once and again and again… by the time you finish your run you are sometimes afraid to smile, fearing your lips will crack, they feel so dry.

Or when you enjoy the sun, making sure you have protected your body against the damaging rays of the sun by applying sun block. Your lips dry up, so you lick them, again and again, which does not improve the situation, only makes it worse. Have you applied sun block to your lips?

Our lips are an important part of our bodies. They enable us to eat, speak, and mainly feel.
The outer layer of the lips is much thinner than the skin on our faces, combined of only 3-5 cellular layers, as opposed to about 16 layers, which the skin of the face usually has. The lips skin is never hairy and doesn’t contain sweat glands. There is no way for the lips to remove excess heat through sweating or lubricate the outer layer with body oils.

What protects the skin is a substance full of blood vessels, muscles and nerve cells. Those enable us to feel, articulate, smile and sense.

Lips can change shape and color; when it’s cold, the lips might turn blue because of lack of oxygen in the blood.

If it’s hot, the lips might become redder, as the blood rushes to try and cool it down from within. They even change during sexual arousal becoming fuller and more sensitive.

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Dry lips Become Chapped Lips:

When the severity of the symptoms increases. When moisturizing the lips isn’t enough and more severe conditions develop: thin layers of skin peel off the lips, the lips become so dry that cracks appear. They might bleed and become infected. The condition becomes chronic. Redness and sourness develops above the lip line.

Not all those symptoms have to be in evidence for the conditioned to be called chapped lips.

Chapped Lips

Causes of Chapped Lips

  • Severe weather conditions: as in the case of skiing and sun worshiping. A hike in high altitudes can also make the situation worse. Of course, the dry and sunny climate, such as in the deserts, is the greatest enemy of beautiful lips.
  • Change in time zones: if traveling frequently the combination of moisture-free air in airplanes and drastic change in temperatures outdoors can cause dry lips which will turn to chapped lips in no time.
  • Lack of hydration in the body: That is true about every kind of dehydration. The skin becomes brittle and the lips chap easily.
  • Excessive licking of the lips: trying to moisten the lips.
  • Breathing through the mouth: when having a cold.
  • Allergies to cosmetic products: the new lipstick, the new makeup remover may cause an allergic reaction.
  • Severe deficiency of vitamin B.

Be aware that some prescribed medications can cause dehydration which will result in dry and chapped lips. This is especially true in cases of Isotretinoin which is prescribed for acne and Acyclovir which treats oral herpes.

How to Prevent Dry Lips

Give your lips the respect they are due. They are such an important part of our appearance and are the most often neglected. Think of your lips as an important part of your daily grooming. Apply moisture to the lips, apply sunscreen before going outdoors for long periods of time.

Try to breathe through your nose as much as possible. If you are having a cold or the flu don’t exasperate the situation with having chapped lips as well. Whether you use over the counter medication or holistic herbs if you still breathe through your mouth apply moisture to them every time you wake up (as you would surely do).

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Avoid licking your lips too often and keep them protected. If you notice you are licking your lips frequently during sports activities, stop for a few second and apply moisturizer to you lips.

Drink plenty of water to be sufficiently hydrated. This is important for other parts of the body as well. The number of glasses you need to drink varies with the climate you are in. Be aware that in dry conditions you need to drink more.

Eat a balanced diet and/or take vitamin supplements.

Remedies for Chapped Lips

If it’s too late and you’ve already developed chapped lips here are some of the ways to combat and reverse the condition:

  • Moisturize your lips as often as you can. If your lips are cracked, regular, over- the-counter, lip balm might not be enough. Use medicated lip balm. Petroleum jelly is good only to prevent further damage as it protects the skin but doesn’t penetrate it. If you’ve used it and it worked, know that it was your body that reversed the situation, not the petroleum.
  • Medical Lanolin can accelerate the healing.
  • Do not wear lipstick until your lips are healed. Your condition might have been caused by an allergic reaction to this new product. Put the lipstick aside (in the refrigerator) for a month or so and try again. If it happens anew you are allergic to this specific product.
  • Home remedies are also successful. Honey has been known to heal chapped lips because of its antibacterial properties.
  • Hydrate your body regularly and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Increase your intake of vitamins B and E.
  • Make an ointment from ghee with honey and apply before bed or a few times a day. People swear by it.

If all the above fails, you should see a medical professional who might recommend cortisone cream.


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