Having chapped lips can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and unsightly. The condition becomes painful when they peel deeply, or crack from excessive dryness. More importantly chapped lips could signify an underlying medical condition. According to Marianna Blyumin, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist featured on WebMD, “Skin cancers on the lips are more dangerous than other skin cancers because they’re more likely to spread to the inside of our body.” Avoiding irritants, maintaining a healthy mouth diet, and taking simple steps to care for your pucker are essential.
Preventing pout problems
- Seasonal elements, (too much sun exposure or extreme cold), can exacerbate chapped lips. Protect your lips with a moisturizing lip balm containing sunblock, (preferably an SPF30+).
- Reactions to certain foods can worsen dry lips. Avoid excessive salt, spice, and citric acid.
- Breathe through your nose as opposed to your mouth.
- Avoid indulging in caffeinated or alcoholic beverages as these have a diuretic/ dehydrating effect.
- Shun smoking. This removes natural oils from the lip area.
- Keep from licking your lips too often.
- Be aware that skin care products, cosmetics, toothpaste, or mouthwash can be culprits.
- Stay mindful of your health and wellness. Infections, allergies, vitamin deficiencies, and even certain medications can be cause for dry lips.
Smart mouth maintenance
- A nutritious, well-balanced diet is fundamental.
- Vitamins B1, B2 and B6, (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine respectively), supports tissue repair and aids in healing dry, cracked lips.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory thereby preventing damage to body tissue and strengthening the skin’s barrier function.
- Essential fatty acids, like flaxseed oil or fish oil, regulate cell function thus supporting healthy nourishment and skin suppleness.
- Keep hydrated. Insufficient water consumption intensifies parched puckers.
- A commonly used remedy to treat chapped lips is petroleum jelly/ petrolatum, (Vaseline or Aquaphor). A great occlusive agent, and best used at night or over a lip product containing sunblock during the day. When applied over a lip treatment it seals in the hydrating benefits. Petroleum feels moisturizing to the lips initially but long term use creates cell dehydration because it inhibits the skin’s ability to breathe.
- Emollient ingredients to look for in a lip product may include: aloe vera, vitamin E, beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter, panthenol, and/ or oils such as avocado, almond, coconut, grapeseed, or jojoba
- Exfoliate your lips 1-2 times a week by massaging a gentle face scrub over the mouth area for about 20 seconds. Or, after applying a thin film of vitamin e oil, buff lips with a baby toothbrush. Do not exfoliate cracked, tender, bleeding lips. Follow with an application of an emollient lip product.
- Hydrating, natural home remedies to try: honey, cucumber slices, or yogurt applied to the lips for 5-10 minutes.
If the above suggestions do not resolve your chapped lips condition consult your doctor.