We all have dry, chapped lips sometimes. But if you have them often and to the point where they are painful and bleeding, there may be a medical reason why. Finding out why your lips are dry and painful can help you choose the right treatment.
Dry, or chapped lips are most commonly caused by the weather, breathing through your mouth, certain medications and licking your lips excessively. As with most things… prevention is better than cure! Try to:
Avoid licking your lips
Licking your lips doesn’t add moisture to them, it just dries them out more. This is because saliva evaporates quickly, leaving them drier than before.
Use unflavoured lip balms
If your balm smells and tastes delicious, you’re bound to lick your lips at some point. And licking your lips can lead to dry and cracked lips.
Always use sunscreen
Protecting your lips from the sun is just as important as shielding your skin. If you’re going out, use a lip balm with sunscreen. It’ll help prevent your lips from sunburn and the dryness and peeling that comes with it.
Particularly in cold weather, keep the air in your room moist with a humidifier. Drink plenty of water and moisturise your skin and lips often.
Cover your mouth
If you’re going out in cold weather, cover your mouth with a scarf to prevent your lips from drying out.
If you have sensitive lips, they may become irritated when they come into contact with some perfumes, fragrances, cosmetics (lipstick) and dyes. Avoid products that irritate your lips and talk to your doctor about possible lip allergens you may have.
Treat dry lips
Chapped lips can become rough and even peel.. To remove dry skin safely, apply a gentle exfoliator like a sugar scrub or a tiny bit of baking soda with your finger. Rub your lips gently with the scrub, rinse well and then moisturise.
Moisture will keep your lips smooth and soft. Moisturise them with products that contain beeswax, coconut oil, cocoa butter and petroleum as these products all work to seal in moisture. Apply throughout the day and again before bed.
When to see a doctor
In some cases, if common treatments aren’t helping your chapped lips heal, there may be an underlying condition, something like cheilitis, for example. Cheilitis is when chapped lips become infected with bacteria that enter through the dry cracks. This needs to be treated by a doctor.
If you wear orthodontic braces or dentures then you’re more at risk for developing it.
Common symptoms of cheilitis include:
- Dark pink or red lips.
- Lumpy lip texture.
- Lip ulcers.
- White plaque growths.
If you experience any of these, see a dermatologist immediately.