What Causes Dry Lips? Risk Factors, Treatment, and Prevention

A common term we all might have heard in our life is dry or the chapped lips. They are annoying, sometimes painful and in rare case cause bleeding. And most of us at some point of time have had dry or chapped lips. You might consider it as the effect of the winter season, but this is not true. Unattended lips with no or less care turn them sore, dry or even scaly. It is always advised to take care of your lips, the same way you do to your skin. Lips do not have any oil gland, and so it is you who needs to work on behalf.

What Causes Dry Lips?

As stated above, lips lack oil glands as compared to all other parts of the body. This states that the probability of lips getting dry or chapped is comparatively more. To add to this, if you are not hydrated or lack moisture, your lips would become cracked. This could have multiple reasons, it could be that the weather does not suit you or it might be an irresponsible behaviour from your end. Additionally, the presence of humidity during the winter season makes your lips more prone to being cracked or chapped. And it’s not just the winters; summers too reflect similar symptoms.

Continuous exposure to the sun’s rays turns lips dry and cracked. Another common reason for dry or chapped lips is frequent licking of the lips with saliva. This in a way curbs the moisture on the lips making them cracked. To rule out other doubts, we have listed below few of the common causes of dry lips.

1. Prolonged Exposure:

Your skin is sensitive and your lips extremely delicate. You need to take proper care to keep them healthy as well as moisturised. Continuous exposure to either sun or humid weather damage the lips. You can try using a moist lip balm and cover your face when you are out in the sun. Also, you can place a humidifier in your home to improve the humidity.

2. Dehydration:

Another common phenomenon that boosts the presence of dry lips is water deficiency or dehydration. Most of us do not keep ourselves hydrated. Not eating fruits or veggies reduces the overall water concentration in our body and hence dry lips.

3. Licking Lips:

Yes, you might love it when you lick your lips, but this happiness lasts for a while. Your saliva has the power to turn your lips dry eliminating the moisturization of the lips. You should never lick your lips if you feel they are dry use a lip balm.

4. Mouth Breath:

Noses have this effective function to help us breathe but sometimes we sleep with our mouth wide open and this not just drops saliva on our pillow but also chap our lips. You might have noticed that when you have a cold and are compelled to breathe through your mouth, your lips turn dry, this is in no sense a coincidence. Mouth breathing leads to chapped lips

5. Lack of healthy fats in your diet:

Healthy fats have this extensive advantage of producing a natural lubricant namely sebum. This keeps our body moisturised to a considerable extent. However, lack of sebum might loosen the skin and turn them dry. Hence, it is advisable that you consume healthy fats. You should have an acceptable amount of fats mainly healthy fats.

6. Deficiency of nutrients or vitamins:

Few cases complain about the deficiency of iron, vitamins or other nutrients like the ones responsible for causing dry or cracked lips. You can try adjusting them in your diet and consume the required supplements to make up for the loss.

7. Supplements:

It is seen that the excess intake of vitamin A leads to both dry and cracked lips. Additionally, drugs are taken for treatment of acne also causes dry lips. Along with the above, medication given for pressure and nausea leads to cracked lips.

In addition to all stated above, few foods as citric foods or salty foods might cause lips to turn dry. In rarest cases, dry lips are caused by any disease or illness. Whatever be the reason it is always advised to treat dry lips and keep them moisturised and nourished throughout the day.

Risk Factors for Dry Lips 

Almost all of us have dry or chapped lips and commonly when the skin is bit dry. It is also seen that the intake of few medicines leads to cracks in lips. Few medicine or supplements that aid dry lips include:

  • Retinoids
  • Vitamin A
  • Drugs for chemotherapy.
  • Lithium

Majorly, people who have dry skin and are malnourished and partly dehydrated are more prone to dry or chapped lips.

Symptoms of Dry Lips 

Chapped lips are common, and only a view of them affirms the presence of a crack in your lips. Some of the widely noticed symptoms include:

  • Scales
  • Swelling
  • Dryness
  • Flaking
  • Sores
  • Bleeding
  • Cracks

Treatment for Dry Lips

Dry Lips as stated are a common phenomenon, no matter what is the reason for your lips turning chapped, you can treat them at your home. Home remedies along with few lifestyle and dietary changes prevent the chapping of lips. Few of them are;

  • Use a lip balm

A lip balm is the best remedy to cure dry lips. Though there are a plethora of products available in the market, opt for one that is rich in petroleum and dimethicone. The former locks moisture whereas the latter works on cracks and splits already present in your lips. Choose from a variety of products but make sure they are a good buy.

  • Frequent Application

Lip Balms are a great choice. But this is to be applied before you put on your gloss or lipstick. Lip balm should be applied directly on the skin and not on top of the lipstick layer. To keep your lips moisturised, try applying them more often. It is advisable to apply at least six coats throughout the day. You can start with the morning touch up and then one at night followed by a few mid hour application.

  • Extra Care When You Are Out

Be it those sunny days or the winter months, and you always protect your skin from the outside weather. Agree? Gloves and socks in winters or the slid on in summer. When you do so much for your hands and feet, why do you leave behind the lips? They also need added care. Try wearing a scarf to cover your face and protect them from the dry weather. Do not forget to have a lip balm along with you.

  • Drink Plenty Of Water

As evident, dehydration is another major cause that leads to dry lips and so it is advisable to keep a check at your water intake. Nevertheless, water is an explicit requirement of the human body. You need it, and you should drink it in ample amounts. Of all the known and the not known advantages of water, keeping lips moisturised and healthy is an added benefit.

  • Use Of humidifier 

Many a time, the outside weather has a significant impact on the lips. It makes them dry and dull giving a scratchy appearance. You can try using a humidifier at your home to add moisture to the surrounding. An excellent device that nourishes lips and prevents them from chapping. You can have both at your house as well as in your office. The best time to use it is at night so that skin sleeps blissfully.

Preventive Measures for Dry Lips

As always said ‘Prevention Is Better Than Cure’. Dry lips are in most cases is lack of proper care. Hence, you can try to avoid conditions that otherwise lead to chapped lips. Some tips to prevent dry lips are:

  • Never peel your lips. They are too delicate, and if you keep licking them and peeling them, they are more prone to cracking and also deter the healing process.
  • Exfoliation is a big no. You can always apply plenty of ointment or the lip balms. Alternatively, use of a humidifier can prevent the lips from drying.
  • Keep Yourself Hydrated: The best way to avoid dry lips is to hydrate yourself. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration from chapping your lips.
  • Avoid Use Of Flavoured Sunscreen: Application of those flavoured lip balms compel you to lick them. Though you might like it, it does more harm than good. Licking turns your lips dry, and cracks appear.

Having said all above, it is important for you to take immense care of your lips. They are not just a part of your body but mean a lot more. In case you see that your lips aren’t healing even after trying all the home remedies, it is advisable to visit a doctor. It is better to be safe. Sometimes dry lips are due to a bacterial infection, and this needs to be treated as early as possible. You should not ignore or delay such signs and consult a doctor immediately.


Dry lips are common, and almost all of us have it once on lifetime. Winters make it worse. Try preventing the same by keeping a lip balm and additionally moisturise your lips the way you do it for your skin.

Sagar Papneja

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

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