How to Heal Dry, Chapped Lips
Dry, chapped lips are a problem all of us have faced at one point or another. They can be quite uncomfortable, even painful at times, and can make us self-conscious about how we look. With this guide, we hope we can get you on the road to soft, supple lips.
What causes dry lips?
The lips are susceptible to drying out because they do not have sweat glands to provide moisture. Along with the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, the lips also do not have oil glands. In addition, dry, chapped lips may be due to environmental or behavioral factors.
Low humidity and wind, which can be found in both the winter and summer seasons depending on geography, are notorious for drying out the lips.
While licking your lips may feel like its providing relief, doing so actually makes them worse because the evaporation of your saliva only ends up stripping more moisture away from your lips. Mouth breathing and biting your lips are all habits that you should put an end to as they can also exacerbate your condition.
Some people may simply be dehydrated so drinking more water may be the solution for you. Reduce your consumption of alcohol as this can contribute to not only dehydration but also vitamin deficiencies that can cause dry lips.
Your diet may also be making your dry lips worse. Try to cut down on your consumption of salty and spicy foods. You should also try to avoid citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits.
In some cases, chapped lips may be an allergic reaction to a food or ingredient in a lip product. Identifying these allergens and avoiding them in the future can go a long way towards prevent chapped lips.
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What can I do for dry lips?
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using lip balms that contain at least one of the following ingredients: petrolatum, ceramides, shea butter, dimethicone, castor seed oil, hemp seed oil. Conversely, avoid lip balms that balm any of the following ingredients: camphor, eucalyptus, lanolin, menthol, salicylic acid. Also, avoid added fragrance not just in lip balms but all other topical skin products as these can be very irritating.
Make sure that your lip balm product has at least SPF 30 since sun exposure can also cause dry lips (in addition to increasing your risk of skin cancer). They should have titanium oxide or zinc oxide but NOT oxybenzone or octinoxate.
The lip balm should be applied multiple times a day and before sleeping. This will help seal in moisture in the lips and protect them from the environment. Especially for those who live in drier climates, use a humidifier in your home and sleep with one in your room to increase the moisture in the air.
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If these methods still do not produce any improvements within a couple weeks, then your dry lips may be due to an underlying medical condition and may require professional attention.
If you have noticed a persistent issue or anything else that is suspicious on your skin, then we would recommend consulting a dermatologist for a closer examination. Here at First Derm, we have online board-certified dermatologists ready to take a look at your skin concerns. Simply upload an image anonymously and we’ll do the rest!
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Medical student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and aspiring dermatologist. I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. I have published peer reviewed medical papers, including on basic science research in dermatology.