"Stop licking and peeling your chapped lips, just grease them and leave it alone!" Chapped lips, a condition whereby the lips become dry and sometimes even cracked (also known as cheilitis) can be unsightly, annoying and dreadfully uncomfortable. The causes of chapped lips can stem from environmental influences, like long-term exposure to dry, windy or severely hot/cold weather. Other causes could also include dehydration, salty food, a thyroid hormone imbalance, B vitamin deficiencies, hypersensitivity to cosmetic products, contacts with irritants or allergens, a fungus infection or physical illness.
Often times, our lips become dry because the layer of oil that is naturally produced by the body to coat the lips is removed, or is lacking. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of chapped lips, as it can often be multi-factorial. The sometimes-painful condition affects many many people!
Lip balm (or petroleum jelly like Vaseline) can sometimes provide relief for chapped lips, but this also depends on the degree of cheilitis in the lips. Medical grade lanolin USP can help to stimulate and repair lips, and is used in several lip repair products. Other steps you can take to eliminate or cure chapped lips are: Stay indoors and avoid windy, dry weather. Avoid alcohol, no spicy/salty or acidic foods, drink plenty of water and use a humidifier in your room if you are a mouth breather! Use lip care products from old remedies (like honey or duck fat) to products containing petroleum, lanolin, coconut oil, sheabutter, olive oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, beeswax, vitamin E oil or aloe vera gel. An improved diet rich in Vitamin B2- riboflavin may also help, or take a supplement.
Avoid licking your lips: certain enzymes present in saliva can irritate the lips, and the evaporation of the water in saliva saps moisture from them. If you do have chapped lips, do not play with dead skin cells on the lips – pulling or peeling tissue from the lips can be damaging, the dead skin should naturally exfoliate or can be removed with small, sterilized surgical scissors.
When the corner of the mouth is cracked, this condition is called angular chelitis, and can be an indication of a riboflavin deficiency (and possible a yeast infection). Apart from improving one's diet and taking a B vitamin supplement, try cutting down sugar intake and applying a lip moisturizer / anti-fugal cream. Avoid using lip gloss with a sponge wand applicator. Avoid kissing with your pets (I am sorry!) and regarding medication, it is known that Retinoids (isotretinoin and acitretin) are the most frequent drug-induced causes for chapped lips.
If you have tried different approaches to eliminate chapped lips and do not see improvement, it would be best to consult with a medical professional. Evaluate whether there is any underlying conditions requiring attention and/or treatment. Chapped lips can often be a sign indicating that there is health attention needed, so let"s have some lip care for our own good for health and beauty!