Dry, cracked lips caused by cold or dry weather, sun exposure, lip-licking, or dehydration are the causes of chapped lips. To relieve any discomfort, apply lip balm or ointment to your chapped lips at home.
Lips that feel dry and cracked are known as chapped lips. Your lips are most likely chapped if they sting, burn, or otherwise feel uncomfortable.
You may believe chapped lips are a wintertime phenomenon. However, at any time of year, if you do not take extra precautions, your lips could become dry, sore, and scaly. This is particularly true if you use products that irritate and dry out your lips, or if you routinely lick or bite your lips.
There are several possible causes of chapped lips, commonly referred to as cheilitis. Here are some common causes:
● Dry or Cold Weather: Exposure to cold and dry air can lead to moisture loss from the lips, causing them to become dry and chapped.
● Sun Exposure: Prolonged exposure to the sun without protection can lead to sunburn on the lips, causing them to become dry and chapped.
● Licking Lips: While licking your lips may provide temporary relief, it can worsen the condition. Lips become drier than before as saliva rapidly evaporates.
● Dehydration: Not drinking enough water can lead to overall dehydration, affecting the moisture levels in your skin, including your lips.
● Allergies: Certain lip care products, toothpaste, or even food can cause an allergic reaction leading to chapped lips.
● Medications: Some medications may have a side effect of drying out the lips.
● Breathing through the Mouth: Breathing through the mouth, especially during sleep, can dry out the lips.
● Vitamin Deficiencies: A deficiency in certain vitamins, particularly B vitamins, can contribute to chapped lips.
● Skin Conditions: Certain skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, can affect the skin on the lips.
● Smoking: Smoking can contribute to chapped lips as it can irritate and dry out the skin.
Chapped lips can present with various symptoms, and the severity can range from mild to more severe discomfort. Common symptoms of chapped lips include:
● Dryness: The texture of the lips can be rough and dry.
● Flaking or Peeling: Chapped lips often result in the peeling or flaking of the skin on the lips.
● Redness: The lips may appear red or irritated.
● Cracking: In more severe cases, the skin on the lips may crack, leading to painful splits or fissures.
● Swelling: Chapped lips can sometimes be accompanied by mild swelling.
● Tenderness or Pain: The lips may feel tender or painful, especially when eating, drinking, or talking.
● Bleeding: In severe cases, chapped lips may lead to bleeding, especially if the skin cracks open.
● Itching: Some people may experience itching on their chapped lips.
● Burning Sensation: Chapped lips can cause a burning or stinging sensation, especially when exposed to certain conditions like wind or cold weather.
In most cases, the diagnosis of chapped lips is based on the visible symptoms and a medical history. A healthcare professional, often a dermatologist or a general practitioner, will typically perform a physical examination and ask questions about the patient’s symptoms and lifestyle. Here’s what the diagnosis process might involve:
1. Physical Examination: The healthcare provider will visually inspect the lips to observe the extent of dryness, redness, peeling, or any other symptoms associated with chapped lips.
2. Medical History: The doctor may ask about the patient’s medical history, including any recent changes in skincare products, exposure to environmental factors, or the use of medications that could contribute to dry or chapped lips.
3. Lifestyle and Habits: Questions about habits such as lip licking, exposure to harsh weather conditions, smoking, or any other factors that may contribute to dryness will be considered.
4. Underlying Conditions: If the chapped lips are persistent or severe, the healthcare provider may inquire about any underlying medical conditions, allergies, or skin disorders that could be contributing to the problem.
In many cases, the diagnosis of chapped lips is straightforward and can be managed with simple lifestyle changes and over-the-counter remedies. However, if the healthcare provider suspects an underlying medical condition or if the chapped lips are not responding to initial interventions, further investigations may be recommended. These investigations might include blood tests, allergy testing, or other diagnostic measures to rule out or identify any contributing factors.
It’s important for individuals experiencing persistent or severe symptoms of chapped lips to seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Additionally, if there are signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, or pus, prompt medical attention is crucial.
Several factors can increase the risk of developing chapped lips. Here are some key risk factors:
● Weather Conditions: Exposure to cold, dry, or windy weather can lead to moisture loss from the lips.
● Sun Exposure: Prolonged exposure to the sun without protection can cause sunburn and contribute to chapped lips.
● Dehydration: Inadequate water intake can result in dehydration, affecting the moisture levels in the lips.
● Lip Licking: Excessive lip licking can strip away natural oils and worsen dryness.
● Certain Medications: Some medications may have side effects that include drying out the lips.
● Allergies: Allergic reactions to lip care products, toothpaste, or certain foods can contribute to chapped lips.
● Smoking: Smoking can irritate and dry out the skin on the lips, increasing the risk of chapping.
● Breathing through the Mouth: Breathing primarily through the mouth, especially during sleep, can dry out the lips.
● Vitamin Deficiencies: A deficiency in certain vitamins, particularly B vitamins, can impact the skin’s health, including the lips.
● Skin Conditions: Conditions like eczema or psoriasis can affect the skin on the lips, making them more prone to dryness and chapping.
The treatment of chapped lips involves a combination of preventive measures and topical interventions to soothe and moisturize the lips. Here are some effective treatments:
● Hydration: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Adequate hydration helps maintain the moisture levels in your skin, including your lips.
● Lip Balm: Apply a good-quality lip balm or ointment that contains moisturizing ingredients such as beeswax, shea butter, or petroleum jelly. Look for products with SPF if you’ll be exposed to the sun.
● Avoid Licking Lips: Resist the urge to lick your lips, as saliva can further dry out the skin.
● Humidifier: Use a humidifier in your living or sleeping space, especially during dry or cold weather, to add moisture to the air.
● Protect Lips from Harsh Weather: Use scarves or other protective measures to shield your lips from harsh wind and cold weather.
● Avoid Harsh Products: Avoid using harsh or irritating lip care products, and choose products with gentle ingredients.
● Topical Steroids: In cases of severe inflammation, a healthcare professional may prescribe a mild topical steroid cream to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
● Over-the-counter creams: Hydrocortisone creams can be applied in moderation to alleviate inflammation and discomfort. However, extended use should be under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
● Bite Guard for Nighttime Teeth Grinding: If lip chapping is related to nighttime teeth grinding, using a bite guard can help prevent further irritation.
● Address Underlying Conditions: If chapped lips are due to an underlying medical condition or vitamin deficiency, addressing the root cause may be necessary.
If your chapped lips are severe, persistent, or show signs of infection, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. In some cases, chapped lips may be a symptom of an underlying medical issue that requires specific attention.
To prevent chapped lips, consider the following measures:
● Hydration: Drink plenty of water to keep your body, including your lips, well-hydrated.
● Lip Balm: Use a moisturizing lip balm with ingredients like beeswax or shea butter, especially in dry or cold weather.
● Protective Measures: Shield your lips from harsh weather conditions, such as wind and sun, with scarves or lip balms containing SPF.
● Avoid Licking Lips: Resist the temptation to lick your lips, as saliva can contribute to dryness.
● Humidifier: Use a humidifier to add moisture to indoor air, particularly in dry environments.
● Gentle Products: Choose gentle lip care products and avoid those with harsh or irritating ingredients.
● Balanced Diet: Ensure a balanced diet rich in vitamins, especially B vitamins, to support overall skin health.
● Limit Mouth Breathing: If possible, try to breathe through your nose to prevent excessive drying of the lips.