Tips For Treating Dry and Chapped Lips


Dry and cold weather, exposure to sunlight, and frequent licking of lips are a few reasons why you may experience dryness and cracking of the lips. To avoid and manage this condition at home, board-certified dermatologists suggest the following tips.

Although it may appear that you have to tolerate dry and cracked lips until the arrival of spring, you can maintain soft and moisturized lips throughout the year. Here are some recommendations from dermatologists.

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1. In order to care for your lips, it is important to use lip balm, lipstick, and other lip products that are non-irritating. 

If your lips burn, sting, or feel uncomfortable when you apply a product to your lips, it means you’re irritating your lips, so you want to stop using that product.

Some people may mistake feelings of discomfort, such as burning, stinging, or tingling, as a sign that the active ingredients in the product are working. However, this is not the case - these sensations actually indicate that the lips are being irritated. Therefore, it is important to stop using any products that cause irritation to the lips.

If you have chapped lips, it is recommended to avoid lip products that contain certain ingredients. These include camphor, eucalyptus, cinnamon, citrus, mint, peppermint flavors, fragrance, lanolin, menthol, octinoxate or oxybenzone, phenol (or phenyl), propyl gallate, and salicylic acid. By avoiding these ingredients, you can help your chapped lips heal more effectively.

Certain ingredients can be beneficial in healing chapped lips, while others may cause irritation. Dermatologists suggest using products that contain one or more of the following ingredients when searching for a solution for chapped lips:

  • Castor seed oil
  • Ceramides
  • Dimethicone
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Mineral oil
  • Petrolatum
  • Shea butter
  • Sun-protective ingredients, such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide
  • White petroleum jelly

Additionally, it is recommended to use products that are free of fragrance and hypoallergenic to further prevent irritation.

2. To keep your lips moisturized and prevent irritation, it's recommended to use a lip balm or moisturizer multiple times throughout the day and before going to bed. If your lips are extremely dry and chapped, you may want to consider using a thicker ointment like white petroleum jelly. Ointments are more effective at locking in moisture compared to waxes or oils. 

3. Before going outdoors, apply a lip balm with SPF 30 or higher that is gentle and won't cause irritation. 


It's important to protect your lips from the sun even in the winter, as dry and chapped lips are more susceptible to sunburn, which can trigger cold sores.

To safeguard your lips from the sun, use a lip balm that has SPF 30 or higher and contains one or both of these sun-protective ingredients: Titanium oxide or Zinc oxide. Reapply the lip balm every two hours while you are outdoors.

4. It's important to consume an ample amount of water to maintain proper hydration levels. This is particularly crucial because chapped lips are a result of dryness, and keeping yourself hydrated can help prevent this condition.

5. Avoid the habits of licking, biting, and picking at your lips. 

Lip licking can be a hard habit to break. When you catch yourself licking your lips, try applying a non-irritating lip balm instead.

Although it might seem natural to moisten dry lips by licking them, this can actually aggravate the issue. When saliva evaporates, it leaves the lips even drier than before.

Moreover, biting or picking at your lips can cause irritation, which in turn can impede the healing process.

6. Steer clear of putting objects made of metal in your mouth, such as paperclips, jewelry, and other common metal items. These objects can aggravate your already sensitive lips and cause irritation.

7. Connect a humidifier in your home. Plugging in a humidifier in your bedroom can be particularly beneficial, especially if you tend to breathe through your mouth while sleeping. 

If you follow the tips provided by these dermatologists for treating chapped lips, you should see a noticeable improvement within 2 to 3 weeks. To prevent your lips from becoming chapped again, make sure to apply lip balm regularly whenever you're indoors or outside in dry conditions.

When should you visit a dermatologist?


Typically, taking care of your dry and chapped lips with self-care measures can lead to healing within 2 to 3 weeks. However, if this is not the case, it is recommended to see a dermatologist who is certified by a board.

Your chapped lips might not necessarily be caused by dry weather alone. There are other factors that can contribute to the discomfort, such as an allergic reaction, a yeast infection, or a more serious condition like actinic cheilitis, which can cause one or both lips to become dry and scaly. A board-certified dermatologist can help diagnose the underlying cause.

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