Plenty of people have experienced chapped lips – some on a regular basis. It’s usually shrugged off as dehydration or blamed on the weather. You put on a little chapstick, drink more water, and that’s that.
But, what if your chapped lips are a symptom of something other than the weather? What if it’s something you’re doing or a specific product you’re using?
Read on to learn about 8 common causes of chapped, cracked, and dry lips.
This is one of the most well-known causes of chapped lips. Dehydration can lead to dry mouth and dry lips.1
Now, dehydration is bad for your overall health It’s extremely important to stay well hydrated throughout the day, so drink plenty of water. How much water is enough?
Well, on average about 3.7 liters of water daily is considered adequate for men and about 2.7 liters for women. If you exercise a lot, especially if it’s hot outside, you may need to up your water intake.2
2. Too Much Lip-Licking
Next up: Persistent lip-licking can lead to dry lips. When you lick your lips, you’re wetting them. When this moisture evaporates, your lips are often left even drier. It’s a vicious cycle. This constant licking can also exacerbate many conditions of the lip and mouth, by spreading around bacteria.3
Bottom line: don’t lick your lips, even if they feel dry. This is the time to apply the right kind of balm. Using a good lip balm can help improve the condition of chapped lips, and it can help prevent the urge to constantly lick.
3. UV Damage
The use of a lip balm with sunscreen is recommended for pretty much anyone and everyone. Make sure your chapstick or balm has a sun protection factor (SPF), especially if you spend a lot of time outside.
This applies even in the wintertime. It’s easy to blame chapped lips on the cold, dry wind. But you could actually be experiencing damage from UV rays. Research has shown that many people don’t use adequate sun protection throughout the year – including on their lips.4
4. Vitamin Deficiencies
Malnutrition can often lead to very dry, cracked lips. It can also affect your body’s ability to heal damaged tissues. You want to make sure that you are getting the proper amounts of essential vitamins and nutrients for skin health – including the skin on your lips. Vitamin B deficiencies can greatly affect oral health. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2 (riboflavin) are particularly critical to lip health.5
5. Vitamin Toxicity
Getting too much of some vitamins can also lead to chapped lips. Vitamin A toxicity is known to lead to dehydrated, cracked skin. Patients who have been treated with high doses of vitamin A commonly experience dry lips, along with a dry nose, drowsiness, and headache.6 If you are experiencing any of these issues, along with chapped lips, see your doctor.
Dry mouth, which can lead to dry lips, is a common reaction to many allergic conditions, especially those that affect or originate in the mouth area.7 Take note of the products you are using, the foods you are eating, and anything else that comes in contact with the skin around your mouth. If you think you have an allergy of any kind, talk with your doctor.
7. Prescription Medications
Lips are already very susceptible to environmental damage that leads to dryness. But the addition of certain medications can make this even worse.8 If you are on any medications, then talk with your doctor about them as a potential cause of your dry lips.
8. Products That Come in Contact With Your Lips
This can include things like toothpaste, mouthwash, and all kinds of cosmetics. Cosmetics can be a biggie, too. What kind of moisturizer do you use? Does it contain any potentially drying ingredients meant to attack blemishes?
How about your makeup? Some foundations and powders have mattifying ingredients that can be drying to your lips. Even many of today’s popular liquid lipsticks can be super drying. Try layering an effective chapstick under your lip products before application.
Know When to Talk to Your Doctor
As you can see from the list above, chapped lips can be a symptom of various conditions in your body. If you’re experiencing chronically dry lips, it’s time to talk to your doctor. They can help you pick the best kind of balm, especially if you suffer from any skin sensitivities.
What About Lip Balm Addiction?
Also, if you think you’re suffering from “lip balm addiction” – which isn’t a real thing, by the way – then it’s probably a good sign you should mention this behavior to your doctor.9 You could be experiencing dry lips due to something else.
In fact, if you consider any of your behavior “addictive,” it’s time to mention it to your doctor. Behavioral addictions and impulse control disorders should be addressed by a licensed physician or mental health professional.10
If you are drinking plenty of water and still suffering from chapped lips, then something else could be going on. Talk with your doctor, to make sure that your dry lips aren’t caused by any other underlying condition. Always keep the right lip balm on hand, apply it as recommended, and stay hydrated for beautiful, soft, kissable lips.
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