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  5. How To Soothe Chapped & Dry Lips: 5 Causes, 5 Remedies & FAQs

Remember the way your chapped and cracked lips sting and burn in winter? Especially when you are consuming something hot or spicy! In extreme cases, the skin on the lips even peels and bleeds.

If you have been troubled with dry and chapped lips off and on, and are unable to effectively put an end to the problem, then this article is for you. We tell you all about why lips get chapped, and how to treat and prevent it. Keep reading.

Are Chapped Lips Contagious?

No, chapped lips are not contagious. They are caused by specific symptoms which cannot be passed on to anyone else. A condition known as Cheilitis [1] is usually caused by an infection that occurs on the corners of the lips, where the skin may be broken.

Symptoms Of Chapped Lips

When your lips are excessively dry, the skin is flaking, or scaly, it is a symptom of chapped lips. Sores, bleeding cracks in the skin of the lips and even swelling indicates chapped lips.

Causes Of Chapped & Dry Lips

1. Hot Water

The skin of the lips is much thinner than elsewhere and doesn’t have oil glands either. This makes them vulnerable to becoming dry and sore. Washing the face with very hot water can strip the lips of their natural oils, making them drier.

2. Side-effects Of Drugs

Some medicines like antihistamines [2] prescribed for allergies and isotretinoin [3] prescribed for acne have side effects that make lips go dry. Chemotherapy drugs and lithium [4] used to treat bipolar disorder [5] can also cause dry and chapped lips.

3. Licking The Lips

Licking your lips constantly is another cause of chapped and dry lips. That is because the saliva coating the lips has enzymes to assist in digesting the food that we eat. When you lick your lips frequently, the enzymes start breaking down the skin of the lips, which makes them chapped.

When you lick your lips frequently, it becomes a vicious cycle where the action makes them dry, and you lick them to control the dry feeling, making it worse. It can lead to a condition called lip licker’s dermatitis [6], where symptoms include extreme dryness and redness of the lips.

4. Low Water Intake & Weather

If you don’t drink enough water, or live in a place where the weather is cold and dry, it can lead to chapped lips. Spending long hours in the sun during the hot months can also make your lips dry. Even when you don’t use lip balms to keep your lips hydrated; or you don’t exfoliate them regularly, they can become chapped and dry.

5. Health Conditions

Health problems like low stomach acid, a poor diet and an unhealthy gut can lead to chapped lips. If you are dehydrated, the body will absorb water from the rest of the body to hydrate its cells. This may cause constipation and dry skin and lips.

Did You Know?

  • Dry lips could indicate that your spleen is not functioning properly, and the food and water you consume is not being digested well. It could indicate a problem with your body’s fluid mechanism.
  • The cheilitis that is caused by excessive licking of lips occurs mostly in children and teenagers between the ages of 6-15.

How To Fix Dry Lips?

1. Invest In The Right Lip Balm

The easiest and best way to treat chapped lips is to always carry a good lip balm with you. Frequently applying lip balm can keep them from becoming dry. It is best to opt for lip balms made with natural ingredients.

A good lip balm should contain any of the following ingredients according to dermatologists:

Ingredients that should not be present in lip balms or any skincare cosmetic you use to fix chapped lips include:

  • Artificial fragrances or flavours
  • Petrolatum or mineral oil and petroleum jelly
  • Parabens of any kind
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) -- used as preservatives in lip balms
  • Chemical sunscreen ingredients
  • Salicylic acid
  • Menthol and peppermint
  • Cinnamic aldehyde that gives a cinnamon flavour

2. Exfoliate The Lips

You can gently exfoliate chapped lips with a natural face scrub. This will slough off the dead skin. But ensure that the scrub doesn’t have salicylic acid or large granules that can actually aggravate the condition. Gram flour paste can be a good and mild scrub to use.

3. Try Home Remedies

You can find enough ingredients in your home and kitchen to treat dry lips. You can apply:

  • Honey, which is a natural moisturiser.
  • Coconut oil, which contains fatty acids, can have an emollient effect on dry lips.
  • Butter or ghee can give your lips the much needed lubrication and restore natural oils.
  • Aloe vera gel taken directly from the plant can soothe dry and sunburnt lips.

4. Use A Humidifier

Keep a humidifier in your home. This can introduce moisture to the air and keep your lips from drying out. If the weather where you live has frequent cold and dry days with strong winds, protect yourself by covering your mouth and using generous amounts of lip balm.

5. Drink More Water

Staying hydrated and drinking enough water throughout the day will help prevent your lips from drying out. You can even drink coconut water as it gives the body the minerals it needs to stay hydrated.

Preventing Chapped Lips

  • To prevent chapped lips, avoid too much scrubbing or exfoliating, especially with hot water.
  • If stepping out into the sun, use a lip balm with SPF 15 or apply your moisturiser or sunscreen on your lips as well.
  • You should include more good fats like fish oil and coconut oil in your diet. These help to lubricate the intestines, reduce any inflammation in the gut and help boost hydration levels in your body. You can cook with coconut oil and take a fish oil supplement to prevent dry lips.
  • If you have dry lips, avoid using metal cutlery or holding any metal in between your lips to prevent further irritation.
  • If you are prone to dry lips in winter, consume more of cooked foods like stews, soups and broths with spices such as turmeric and ginger. Salads, ice cream and fruits can cause damage to the spleen, affect fluid metabolism and cause dry lips.
  • If you have chapped lips, always apply lip balm before applying lipstick. It will give the lipstick a smoother finish and keep your lips from getting chapped and dry.

Why Is Drinking Water Not Enough For Chapped Lips?

Dehydration can lead to health issues in your digestive system. Not drinking enough water may affect your body in the long run, but may not help with chapped lips in the short term. To prevent chapped lips, you must follow all the above-mentioned remedies and routines besides drinking enough water.

How Long Do Chapped Lips Take To Heal?

Depending on their condition, chapped lips can take anything from one day to 2-3 weeks to heal completely. If the chapping, peeling or bleeding of lips does not stop even after trying all the treatments, you must consult your doctor.

Wrapping Up

Chapped lips need a lot of care to restore their natural softness. Using a good lip balm made with natural ingredients, staying hydrated and out of the sun are some of the things you can do to keep them moisturised.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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