how to treat chapped lips

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How to Treat Chapped Lips

Dry, cracked lips are uncomfortable — and they may make you self-conscious of how you look and feel. They may appear red and swollen, and may even bleed as a result of dryness. Learn more about how to treat chapped lips.

Expert dermatology care in Pennsylvania, when you need it. Learn about eDermatology.

Why Are My Lips Chapped?

Your lips don’t have oil glands like the rest of your body, so they’re more prone to dryness than other areas of your skin. Any of the following conditions can contribute to chapped lips.

Causes of Chapped Lips

  • Dehydration – When your body is dehydrated, your lips are more prone to dryness. Drink about eight glasses of water per day to stay properly hydrated.
  • Malnutrition  Improper diet and nutrient deficiencies can make skin and lips drier than usual.
  • Lack of protection – Just as you need to apply sunscreen to the rest of your body, your lips need protection, too. Coat them in a quality lip balm that carries an SPF rating. You should also apply lip balm in cold, windy conditions.
  • Breathing through your mouth – Because your lips are already prone to dryness, breathing with your mouth open, especially while sleeping, eliminates moisture and leads to chapping.
  • Some medications or chemicals – Medications, including Vitamin A supplements and lithium can cause chapped lips, as can chemicals in some makeup, lotions, and lip balms. Keep ingredients like eucalyptus, menthol, and camphor away from your lips.
  • Cheilitis – Cheilitis is a condition associated with infections and inflammatory diseases. Symptoms include severely chapped and red lips, lips with a lumpy texture, and lips that are cracked in the corners or have ulcers.

RELATED: Protect Your Skin: Sunscreen 101

How Do I Get Rid of Chapped Lips?

Healing chapped lips takes a bit of persistence, but it’s a problem that can often be solved at home.

If your lips are bleeding, sore, or chapped for an abnormally long period of time, you should consult your dermatologist.

Learn more about preventing chapped lips

Here are a few suggestions for treating and preventing chapped lips at home.

  • Apply lip balm liberally. One of the best ways to help your lips is to keep them moisturized with a balm or ointment that won’t irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction. Apply several times throughout the day, even when your lips aren’t chapped, to prevent dryness.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and use a humidifier in your home to provide your lips with the moisture they need.
  • Try a home remedy, like applying honey to your lips to soothe, heal, and moisturize them.
  • Don’t lick or pick at your lips. When you lick your lips, your saliva will evaporate alongside your lips’ lasting moisture. So, anytime you feel the urge to lick your lips, apply a moisturizing balm instead. When your lips are chapped, don’t pick at or bite them, either. The skin on your lips is thin and delicate, and picking at it only irritates it and prolongs the problem.
  • Check your medicines, makeup, and toothpaste. An ingredient in one of these could be causing dryness, irritation, or an allergic reaction.

Be sure to pay attention to your lips, especially during the cold months and when you’re in the sun. Find more information by visiting the UPMC Department of Dermatology website.

About Dermatology

The UPMC Department of Dermatology diagnoses, treats, and manages numerous hair, skin, and nail conditions and diseases. We care for common and uncommon conditions, and our treatments include both surgical and non-surgical options. We operate several specialty centers for various conditions. The UPMC Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center is the most comprehensive dermatologic laser facility in the region. With UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we offer a Skin Cancer Program that provides complete care from screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and beyond.