Chapped Lips: Causes, Risk Factors, and Treatment

Sore, dry or cracked lips mainly visible during the winter months is referred to as chapped lips. Cracks appearing in the skin is given the term chapped lips or medical cheilitis. Also known as skin inflammation, chapped lips lead to cracking, reddening, fissuring, peeling and mild pain. Though chapped lips are frequent in winters, yet sunburns also make lips chapped. There are a plethora of reasons behind the occurrence of chapped lips, and it would be effective to know all so that you can take preventive measures to reduce the possibility of its recurrence.

Causes of Chapped Lips

Chapped lips are one of the most common issue we all face. This not just appears bad but also induces a feeling of discomfort. It would not be surprising to see your lips turn blue in winters. The extensively cold weather supported by a drop in temperature causes the blood vessel present in your lips to shut down temporarily. This alternatively reduces the oxygen content of your lips and hence the colour blue. Along with this, lips lack sebaceous glands and the sweat glands. The amount of water lost from lips is around ten times more as compared to other parts of the body and most importantly the face. All the above-stated facts turn your lips chapped. True that the feeling chapped lips are bad, it would be of great use to learn about the various causes of chapped lips.

We have listed below some of the most common causes of chapped lips:

  • Lip Licking

It is a common phenomenon to lick your lips when you find then dry and cranky. Right? Though this is a quick fix, yet this is temporary. After you are done with licking, a matter of seconds and they are dry again. So are you planning to keep licking them? This is mere a habit you develop but does not hydrate your lips. On the contrary, the saliva that gets applied on your lips can make them even more chapped and dry, more than earlier. Again chewing or biting your lips make them worse and if you have this tendency, then try eliminating it from your life.

  • Dehydration

Deficiency of water leads to chapped lips. Try consuming plenty of water along with different fluids to keep yourself hydrated. Because lips do not have any oil glands, it is imperative that you consume ample amount of fluids so that your lips are well nourished and also moisturised.

  • Allergies

There exist multiple allergies which leads to both dry and chapped lips. Majorly the allergy against cobalt and nickel leads to chapping of lips. If you are a regular Vitamin B12 consumer, then you are at greater risk of having an allergy to cobalt. This turn makes your lips dry as well as crusty. Being allergic to nickel prohibits you from placing any metal products near your lips. This would make your lips scaly and further chapped. Also, if you are thinking to pierce your lip, make sure the ring does not have metal or nickel in it.

Also, some of the ingredients present in lipstick or toothpaste turn you more susceptible to having allergies against them. Alternatively, these lead to chapped lips. It is therefore advisable to stop the use of such products and look for better alternatives.

  • Poor Care

If you do not take proper care of your lips, they will get chapped very easily and quickly. No matter what the weather is, always have a layer of lip balm coated on your lips. You can try using the ones that have added benefits of sun protection, or you can apply a layer of sunblock on those lips before you set out to work. Taking great care and keeping the lips moisturised help prevent the lips from chapping.

  • Mouth Breathing.

Another common cause of chapped lips is breathing through your mouth. When airs pass across your lips constantly, it is easy for them to get chapped. This is common among people who have the problem of sleep arena and have the habit of snoring. Apart from this, when you are suffering from cold, you are more likely to breathe from the nose and this again increased airflow through the mouth. Again your lips get chapped. Try keeping your lips nourished and moisturised all day long.

  • Use Of Toothpaste

Several cases state that the presence of sodium lauryl sulfate leads to skin irritation and also aids dryness. Additionally, it can induce perioral dermatitis. A condition referred to as the dermatitis of both mouth and lips. In case this persists for long, stop using them and opt for a paste that does not have sodium lauryl sulfate.

  • Dry weather or Heat

Undoubtedly, the cool breeze flowing outside in winters is one of the most common causes of the chapped lips. In case you are about to step outside, carry a lip balm along with a scarf to have your face covered. Likewise, getting trapped in heat has the power to crack lips and hence chapped.

  • Excessive Vitamin A

Vitamin A is good for health, but excessive consumption of the same can cause chapped lips. Restrict your daily intake to 25,000 UI to avoid problems.

  • Citrus Fruits

The acid present in all citrus fruits can cause skin irritation which on the other hand turn lips extra sensitive. Both of these lead to chapped lips. Before consuming those gulptous organ juices, stack a layer of lip balm all over your lips to prevent them from reacting adversely in the presence of citrus fruits.

Risk Factors of Chapped Lips

Chapped lips can occur both in summer as well as in winters. If you experience them frequently, then it is largely advisable to know what are the risk factors associated with the same.

  • Continuous exposure to sun’s heat turns you more prone to developing a chapped lip. Try using sunscreen and lip balms with sunblock property to avoid these.
  • Windy weather can turn lips dry which in turn cracks your lips.
  • Dehydrated people are at greater risk of developing chapped lips.
  • Frequent lip Licking aggravates the risk of having chapped lips.

Symptoms of Chapped Lips

Few of the most common symptom associated with chapped lips include:

  • Dryness
  • Redness
  • Itchy
  • Scaly
  • Flaking
  • Swelling

Diagnosis for Chapped Lips

Though the chapped lips appear as they affect a person, doctors would analyse the area around your lips and seek information to rule out the presence of any other disease.

Treatment of Chapped Lips

One of the most effective ways to treat chapped lips is to layer a coat of gloss or emollient lip balm. This will help your lips restore it’s moisturised appeal and heal cracks. Though, you must keep in mind that it is not a miracle and your lip won’t be cured in a day. You need to have patience. Also, missing a single day would work against you and yes you have those dry lips back.

If you are witnessing a flaking feeling or consider your lips to be highly chapped, you can try scrubbing them before the application of a gloss or a lip balm. This is very helpful as scrubbing aids removal of dry, dead, and flaky skin. The lips are now smoother, and you can blissfully apply your lip balm. This work wonders on chapped lips, truly worth giving it a try. Surprise yourself by giving your lips this unexpected scrubbing treatment.

Also, keep in mind that this treatment is not just for your morning makeup, but also at night. Wash your face, scrub your lips and then apply a layer of lip balm. This keeps lips moisturised while you sleep soundly. Keep a check at the products you are using along with the content it has. Several products such as camphor, methanol are skin irritants and would do more bad than good to your lips. Perfumed lip balms are a big no, they are not helpful and can harm your lips extensively.

One example is the Carmex Lip Balm. This element has irritants that work wonders to make your lips a lot drier and chapped. Though you might be using it to heal dryness, you might never know that your lip balm is the one contributing to the increased dryness.

Apart from this, few of the most common ways to treat chapped lips include the following:

  • Use a humidifier at your home while you sleep to keep your lips moisturised.
  • Use lip balms that have almond oil in them.
  • There is a high possibility that your cleanser work in favour of odds against your lips. Try using lip balms before you plan to wash your face.
  • An effective home remedy is to cut slices of cucumber and place them at your chapped lips for rehydration.
  • Breathe through your nose whenever possible. Breathing through the mouth is considered to be one of the common cause behind the occurrence of chapped lips.


True that chapped lips are a common phenomenon, you should take proper care of your lips and keep yourself hydrated to deter the recurrence of dry or chapped lips.

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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