Chapped and Dry Lips
Do you suffer from cracked, dry lips? Chapped lips are painful, unsightly and can be hard to heal. What’s worse, some “healing” lip balms can exacerbate the situation and cause further dryness.
The key to healing dry lips is to understand the reason why they’re chapping.The skin on your lips is uniquely fragile and requires special care. Once you understand the reason behind the problem, you can finally heal your dry lips for good! Chapped lips have four main causes:
- Environmental chapping from harsh weather and wind.
- Irritation from excessive lip licking.
- Harsh ingredients in skin care products such as anti-aging skin care products or acne products that migrate to the lips.
- Allergic reactions to foods, beverages, lip balms and dental products that come into contact with your lips.
Get my dermatologist-recommended information and tips for your chapped and dry lipsIf your dry, chapped lips won’t heal, here’s what to do:
If your lips are chapped due to the weather:Exposure to harsh weather and wind pull moisture out of your skin, including your lips. The solution is to moisturize your dry lips with a simple, high quality lip balm. The two tried and true products that I use in my practice are my Natural Lip Balm and Vanicream Lip Protectant SPF 30. Both are deeply hydrating and will soothe chapped lips. They both come in convenient tubes so that you can easily carry them with you and use them throughout the day. The Natural Lip Balm is ideal for anytime use. When you are outdoors in the sun, use the Vanicream Lip SPF Protectant because you need to protect your delicate lip skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Unless you are constantly out in harsh weather (think fishermen and skiers), your lips should respond quickly once you are using the right lip balm.
If constant lip licking is causing your cracked lips:Lip licking is a chicken and egg question; do you lick your lips because they are dry, or is your licking actually causing the dryness? If you lick your lips frequently, try keeping your lips constantly covered with the Natural Lip Balm or Vanicream Lip Protectant instead of licking your lips. You should see improvement within a month.
Are your skin care products the culprit?If you’re using anti-aging, acne treatment or exfoliating products, they may be migrating to your lips and causing dryness. Apply the Natural Lip Balm or Vani Lip Balm to your lips before applying these skin care products. Try to keep these products away from your lips and use a wet washcloth to clear off any excess. During the day, apply the Natural Lip Balm or Vani Lip Protectant to help create a protective barrier so that drying product ingredients don’t migrate to your lip surface.
What if you have an allergy?If your lips don’t heal with consistent use of a good lip balm, you could be allergic to a food or to your lip care products. I see a lot of patients whose chapped lips are due to an allergic reaction. Before they've seen me they’ve tried numerous chapped lip remedies, all without improvement. The lip chapping that happens from an allergic reaction is called allergic chelitis (chelitis means an inflammation of the lip skin). The key is finding the allergen that causes your lips to dry and chap. In my practice, the most common causes of allergic lip chapping are:
- Citrus: Even small amounts of citrus can have a huge impact on your lips. This includes the twist of lemon in your beverage, drinking orange juice, eating an orange etc. I’m allergic to citrus so I get to live out this rash every time I squeeze lemon in my water or use it generously on food. You can lessen the chapping by applying a fresh coat of my Natural Lip Balm before you eat or drink citrus, using a straw if you’re drinking the citrus and washing your lips soon after the exposure. This doesn’t entirely prevent the rash, but it helps a little.
- Mint: Mint is in many products including gum, breath mints, dental products etc. One of my patients developed chapped lips from regularly drinking mint tea.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon products are less common but there is cinnamon in some dental products, teas and beverages. Another one of my patients developed dry lips from the cinnamon in Good Earth’s Original Sweet and Spicy herb tea, which is loaded with a delicious amount of cinnamon.
- Lip balms: Many ‘healing’ lip balms designed to treat chapped lips actually contain well-intended healing ingredients that are also allergens! The product I see the most problems with is Bert’s Bees Lip Balms, but there are many other products patients bring me that are loaded with allergens. The common lip product allergen ingredients include eucalyptus, mint, lanolin, non-mineral sunscreen ingredients and the fragrance and flavors in the lip products.