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Chapped, Dry Lips? Dermatologist Tips for Prevention and Treatment

Updated on October 23, 2012

Self-Care Is Usually All that Is Needed

Are you a frequent lip licker? Do you breathe through your mouth rather than your nose? Do you go outside without lip balm or lipstick with sunscreen? Well, stop it!

Licking your lips may temporarily seem to be the answer to dry lips, but in reality, you are only making the situation worse. Your lips have no oil glands to protect themselves from the onslaught of continual wetness.

Breathing through your nose not only aids your body in better filtering incoming air and warming cold air before it hits your lungs, it also prevents your lips from drying out. Mouth breathing tends to dry lips from the continual exposure to air movement.

Lip balm, dermatologists recommend, should be applied daily. Use a lip balm or lipstick with an SPF factor of at least 15. An added prevention and treatment strategy to keep your lips supple and moist is to dab some petroleum jelly on them before retiring to bed.

You should not ignore the value of balanced nutrition and adequate hydration. Iron deficiency and some B vitamin deficiencies can lead to chapped lips that require more than lip balm application for healing. Drink plenty of fluids--lip health is one more reason to follow this oft prescribed advice.

Although chapped, dry lips can occur any season of the year, there are some considerations in cold weather months that add to the likelihood of the condition without proper prevention strategies. The dry heat from cold month heating systems can rob your lips and skin of needed moisture. Add moisture to the air by using a humidifier or simmering a pot of water on the stove at frequent intervals. People with radiator heat can place metal pie pans with water on top of the radiators for added moisture in their homes.

Don't negate the effects of the sun on your lips in the winter. Continue to use a lip balm with sunscreen protection. Protect your lips from the winter elements of wind and cold by keeping your mouth covered.

How to Make Homemade Lip Balm

This hub provides step-by-step directions and photos for making your own lip gloss and lip balm -- and a special recipe for chapped lips. (Hub author: Wordscribe43)


When Chapped Lips Is Something More

The medical term for inflamed lips is cheilitis. There are a number of different types of cheilitis, from simple chapped lips to conditions that require care from a dermatologist or other health care professional. If your chapped, dry lips don't respond to self-care, it is time to consult a health care provider.

Be alert to symptoms such as cracking of the lips, especially at the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis), swelling of the lips and mouth area, redness around the mouth, sores or lumps under the skin of the lips.

Sometimes cheilitis is caused by an allergy, an infection or rarely, a chronic condition elsewhere in your body. The symptoms aren't going to go away until you've been evaluated by a medical professional who can prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Dermatologist Talks Chapped Lips


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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A very informed Hub on Chapped, Dry Lips, and so well explained.

    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 5 years ago from Kansas City - United States

      Before a few weeks ago I can not even think of the last time I had chapped lips. It sounds like maybe I was a dehydrated lip licker at the time. lol I did not know there were any serious medical conditions concerning chapped lips. Great tips! Voted up!

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      @innerspin, HoneyBB, DDE and toknowinfo: Appreciate the reads, comments and more! I've been using a lip balm this winter season with vitamin E and a SPF of 25 and have so far avoided chapped lips. Hope you are able to keep yours from the dreaded cracking and burning that so often happens in the cold weather.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Thanks for a well written and very informative hub. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Unique information to me thanks for the helpful idea.

    • HoneyBB profile image

      Helen Laxner 5 years ago from Illinois

      I know I have to stop licking my lips. I rarely lick them in the summer but for some reason I lick them a little more in the winter months. They don't usually get too chapped but Carmex works great to help trap the moisture in. I have also found that if I lick them while I am out in the cold and shortly before going out in the cold and if I don't have any carmex the best way I can keep them from getting more chapped is to actually dry them as much as possible and as soon as possible. Thanks for sharing this useful information.

    • innerspin profile image

      Kim Kennedy 5 years ago from uk

      Really glad I came across this hub. My lips have been dry for about the last month. I read the information, and then realized that I bought a new lipstick a month ago. Lightbulb moment! Will be switching back to my usual brand, meanwhile using plenty of lip balm. Thanks for making me think a bit more deeply.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Healthylife2, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I know as soon as the heat is turned on in the fall, I must begin to pay extra heed to my lips or they will be chapped and sore in short order.

      Thanks for Sharing.

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Excellent hub for this time of year when my lips get chapped. I do get chelitis on occasion when I'm getting a cold it seems. Great point that when nutrition is good and there is plenty of water intake my lips tend to be less chapped. Voted up and shared!

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Alocsin, sometimes I envy you folks in So. Cal. Thanks for the read and the share.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Though it's always sunny here in Southern California, the dry weather often causes dry lips. I appreciate these tips -- the info on chelitis is new to me. Voting this Up and Useful. Shared.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Snigda.s, that is so incredible! Now you have my interest piqued and I am going to have to give it a try. Thanks for writing back.

    • snigdha.s profile image

      snigdha.s 6 years ago from India,mumbai

      Oh no. Am serious.It does sound a little weird but is actually effective.A girl working in a beauty parlor had suggested.I too didn't take it seriously as I couldn't fathom the relation between lips and naval.Once none of my creams were working for my chapped lips I tried this tip.It worked to my surprise.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Snigda.s, I don't know if you are pulling my leg with your tip or not, but it sounds so improbable.

      I appreciate your read and comment.

    • snigdha.s profile image

      snigdha.s 6 years ago from India,mumbai

      Nice hub. Would add one more herbal tip from your kitchen. Apply Ghee or melted butter to your naval at night.It really helps to give you smooth lips.You will get rid of chapped lips overnight.Believe me it works.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Gypsy Willow, it is that time of year -- and if your source of indoor heat is a dry one, that only adds to the problem.

      I appreciate your read and your comment.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Thanks for the tips. It is dry and cold where I live. We were only discussing the problem yesterday!

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      LadyLyell, I appreciate your read and comment. Enjoy that climate!

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Hey Brett, I'm glad I was able to offer some useful information before your skin becomes like parchment paper.

      Thanks for SHARING.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      SanneL, glad you found the information useful. I can only imagine the protection you must need from the elements in your climate.

      Thanks for the read and thanks for SHARING.

    • LadyLyell profile image

      LadyLyell 6 years ago from George, South Africa

      I live in a warm climate so don't have the problem. This hub was very in formative, thanks!

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 6 years ago from Sweden

      Living in a Nordic country with long cold winters, I have had my shares with chapped lips. No fun!! So lip balm is a must. Can't live without it!

      Great hub with great tips! Thanks!

      Rated this one up, useful and sharing.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 6 years ago from Thailand

      You know, normally I would not have given this kind of hub a second look (being a typical guy). However, while currently living in a -20c dry air climate, every bit of skin is crying out for moisture! lol

      Thanks for SHARING, up and useful.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Truckstop Sally, I've personally never used Aquaphor, but have read good things about it. To protect your skin and lips not only from the drying effects of the sun but also against the dangers of skin cancer, you should consider using your preferred product first and then using a sunscreen of some type. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 7 years ago

      Thanks for the information. I love Aquiphor for chapped lips (and many other things). It does not have SPF though.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Thanks Dr Irum, for the rate up and the comment.

    • Dr irum profile image

      Dr irum 7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these tips for relieving dry and chapped lips .i rate up this post.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Much obliged. Hopefully you'll be able to be able to prevent chapped lips before they happen.

      Be careful out there in this winter onslaught.

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Thank you for the much needed tips on relief from chapped dry lips as this is a very uncomfortable problem in Ohio this time of year. The wind is freezing and fierce.


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