How to Prevent and Heal Dry and Chapped Lips
Dry Lips Can be Irritating and Humiliating
I never truly knew how uncomfortable or embarrassing it could be to have dry or chapped lips until I moved into a climate zone best described as semi-arid desert. Suddenly my lips were constantly flaking, and the corners became dry and red, giving me the attractive look of a child who has gulped too much Kool-Aid. Suffering from dry lips isn’t the end of the world, but it sure can irritate and even affect a person’s self esteem. After all, who is going to want to kiss your scaly lizard lips? Before we get to remedies for your chapped lips, let’s investigate some of the causes of dry lips.
Causes of Dry and Chapped Lips
1. The Sun- We all know that the sun can harm our skin, and that includes the delicate skin on our lips. Without any protection, exposure to the sun can dry out and damage our lips to the point where the skin begins to crack and peel, kind of like a sunburn, except this happens on a much more noticeable and irritable part of your body.
2. Winter Winds- Cold, dry air coupled with winter winds make many people suffer from chapped lips every winter.
3. Dehydration- We all know we’re supposed to drink roughly 8 glasses of water per day, but most people rarely do. Coupled with the fact that a lot of people miss out on water rich foods like vegetables and fruits, and many people are running around with some degree of dehydration. If you body doesn’t have enough water, then it’s going to begin to tell you so. Dry lips can be a sign that you need to hit the water cooler more often.
4. Vitamin Deficiencies- Certain vitamins are crucial for your skin’s health, including Vitamins A, B, C, B2 and essential fatty acids. Make sure you eat a balanced diet and take a daily vitamin as well.
5. Allergic Reaction- This is especially pertinent for women. Some of the chemicals in popular lipsticks can be fairly harsh, causing your lips to have an allergic reaction.
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Preventing Chapped Lips
Prevention is a lot easier than dealing with dry lips after they have already cropped up. Usually by this time you have a struggle of a week or more in front of you before your mouth begins to look right again, so it makes sense to just take care of yourself in the first place. Let’s address prevention in the same order we addressed the causes, shall we?
1. The Sun- Many lip balms now come with SPF included. Try to wear one that is at least 15 SPF, and carry it around with you so that you can reapply the lip balm as needed throughout the day. Also, no matter how hot it is or how dry it is, do not lick your lips, this will only make the cracking and chapping worse.
2. Winter Winds- Once again, a good petroleum or beeswax based lip balm can be your best friend in winter, I really like both Burt’s Bees and good, old Carmex. Also, think about wearing a scarf in winter and wrapping it around the lower half of your face. This will prevent damage to your lips from the fierce Arctic winds.
3. Dehydration- Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially if it is hot or you are active. Stay away from overly sugary juices or sodas, which can actually dehydrate you if you are not careful. Also, if you live in a very dry climate, like I do, consider using a humidifier in your office or at home.
4. Vitamin Deficiencies- Take care of your chapped lips and your health by eating right! Get lots of fruits, veggies and whole grains as well as lean protein, and lay off the junk food. Besides, nothing stings dry lips like salty potato chips.
5. Allergic Reaction- Rule out allergic reaction to cosmetics by stopping use of whatever lipstick you are wearing for a week or so. If your dry, chapped lips begin to heal then you may be sensitive to one or more of the chemicals in your lipstick.
How to Heal Dry and Chapped Lips
So, the damage is already done and you need help fixing the raw and tender mess your lips have turned into. Fear not, chapped lips are irritating, but curable.
1. Apply petroleum or beeswax based lip balm frequently throughout the day. This will keep your lips moist and protected from further drying out. Also, try to use unflavored or lightly flavored lip balm, as flavored balms can encourage you to unconsciously lick your lips, further drying them out.
2. Apply Vitamin E ointment on your lips for a healing boost, but be careful about ingestion.
3. Gently exfoliate your lips using a soft-bristled toothbrush and warm water. Don’t’ pick at your lips! This can cause tearing and bleeding and further exacerbate the damage.
Dry and chapped lips are far from fun, but with patience and persistence they can be defeated. Please keep in mind that if your lips continued to be dry and chapped in spite of your best efforts you may want to see your doctor, as dry lips can sometimes indicate a more serious medical problem.
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