Winter is coming, and you’re worried about your lips acting up. You hate that tight, dry, uncomfortable feeling, and you don’t have a clue what causes it. Many factors contribute to chapped lips, also known as cheilitis in severe cases.
While you may not have control of some elements, you have control over others. Let’s look at the common causes of chapped lips, and what lifestyle changes are needed to keep those lips soft and moist.
1. Thinner Skin On Lips
The skin on the lips is thinner than other skin and tends to dry out faster. Also, the lips don’t have oil glands and are exposed to the environment more. Lips are, therefore, more susceptible to drying out and becoming chapped. Using a lip balm can help.
Saliva from the tongue can also strip the lips of moisture resulting in more dryness. Try not to lick your lips and see the difference over time.
The weather does play a part in why your lips are dry, cracked, or itchy. When the temperature drops, there is less moisture in the air.
Alas, we can’t control the weather. Combat the effects of the weather by keeping lips moisturized to reduce irritation, flaking, and inflammation.
3. Allergic Reaction
Sometimes lips react to the products we use and cause an allergic reaction called contact cheilitis. Fragrances, pigments in lipsticks, and flavoring agents in your food are common culprits. These cause inflammation to the lips.
Even everyday skincare products can cause a reaction on your lips. If you are unsure what is causing the reaction, do a skin patch test at a dermatologist’s office. Then you can either avoid the product or try applying white petrolatum to your lips before applying acne products may help reduce this issue.
4. Sun Damage
Another common factor for chapped or parched lips is the sun. Apply a lip balm with a minimum SPF 15 before heading outdoors to moisturize the lips and minimize further drying effects.
Frequent exposure to the sun during summer worsens the condition, and it can persist year-round. It may be one spot on the lip or the entire lip. A trip to the dermatologist is needed to treat chapped lips of this nature.
“This can also be a sign of precancerous changes to the lips, called actinic cheilitis,”says Erum Ilyas, a dermatologist in Pennsylvania.
5. Underlying Health Conditions
Chapped lips may be associated with a variety of underlying medical conditions, including vitamin deficiencies, thyroid disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Angular cheilitis or inflammation in the corners of the mouth is another common condition that can cause chapped lips and is typically the result of cold weather, excessive moisture, or yeast overgrowth. It is usually treated with anti-yeast medication, anti-inflammatories, or skin protectants.
Certain medications can lead to dry lips. These include:
- vitamin A
- lithium (used to treat bipolar disorder)
- chemotherapy drugs
Unfortunately, there is not much one can do to prevent this type of chapped lips. Instead, carrying an emollient and nourishing lip balm might be your only option.
7. Dehydration Or Malnourishment
Dehydrated or malnourished people are more likely to have chapped, parched lips than other people. Dehydration and malnutrition are serious conditions.
They require immediate medical attention. Call your doctor if you suspect either of these is associated with your chapped lips.
Common Chapped Lips Treatments
Nivea suggests three ways to keep lips healthy:
- Exfoliate using a homemade mixture of olive or coconut oil and sugar to remove dead, flaky skin.
- Wear lip balm regularly.
- Apply an overnight dry lip treatment like Nivea’s Repair and Protection Lip Balm to nourish your lips.