What You Need to Know about Chapped Lips

Having dry and cracked lips is very common throughout the year. Dry weather conditions or sometimes allergic reactions or infections may cause chapped lips. The problem of chapped lips makes lips dry and scaly.

The Problem of Chapped Lips

The human skin has many oil glands that nourish and protect the skin from getting dry. Lips, on the other hand, don’t have any oil glands to produce oil and nourish it and this is why chapped lips or dry lips are very common. The condition may get worse if there is no moisture.

Let us now take a look at the factors that cause chapped lips −

  • Weather conditions − Exposure to the sun during sunny days can dehydrate lips and winters can completely dry them off.

  • Frequent lip licking − A lot of people have a habit of constantly licking their lips. Frequent licking, biting, or picking dries out the lips leading to chapping. It is a misconception that licking hydrates the lips; it is just the other way around. The saliva in our mouth has digestive enzymes. Since the lips have very soft and delicate skin, the enzymes break down the skin layer of the lips making them drier than before.

  • Dehydration −Dehydration is a condition when the body has less amount of water. Drinking less water or fluids eventually leads to dehydration and this causes dry skin and cracked lips.

  • Vitamin deficiency − Deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals lead to dehydration causing dry and chapped lips. Deficiencies of Vitamin B, Vitamin C, iron, and zinc may cause severe chapped lips and conditions like dermatitis.

  • Medications − Patients who are given heavy and strong medications such as chemotherapeutics, diuretics, and anti-allergics experience chapped lips. This is due to the reason that these medications lead to dehydration in the body.

Symptoms of Dry Lips

Here are the common symptoms of dry lips −

When to See a Doctor?

When chapped lips are not healing, consulting a physician is recommended. When the condition of dry and chapped lips worsens, it is often a symptom of cheilitis, which is a derma condition. Cheilitis is caused by certain allergic reactions, prolonged exposure to the sun, autoimmune disorders, or an infection.

Dried and chapped lips are common symptoms of cheilitis. Other visible symptoms include itching, burning, redness, and inflammation. A person suffering from this condition has cracks in the corners of the mouth.

The development of ulcers on the lips and around the mouth area is also a common symptom. White plaques are also noticeable on the lips of a person having cheilitis. Severe cracks in the lips can cause bacteria to enter or invest in the lips and cause severe infections that might be transferrable. People wearing braces have a higher chance of experiencing cheilitis because the braces are stretched over the teeth.

Treatment for Chapped Lips

Chapped lips may also cause pain and irritation. It can be treated in the following ways −


The skin of the lips tends to tear out and dry very frequently since lips do not have oil glands to produce oil. Hence, adding a moisturizer to your lips in your self-care routine can be very beneficial. This includes using a lip balm or cream to hydrate the lips and keep them soft and protect them from drying out. The routine has to be consistent to maintain the natural moisture of the lips.


Exfoliating helps to remove the dead cells of the skin. Chapped lips are cracked and dehydrated. This makes the skin on the lips fall out as flakes. Exfoliating lips can remove the dead layer and bring out the new layer lying underneath the dead cells. After exfoliating, moisturizing is the key always.


Prolonged exposure to the sun leads to drying out of the lips. Apart from the skin, adding sunscreen to the lips can help prevent not only drying of the lips but also depigmentation.

How to Prevent Chapped Lips?

Chapped lips can be prevented by changing certain habits such as −

  • Lip licking − Licking lips is the most common cause of chapped lips. This is a very common habit of many people. Try not to lick your lips often.

  • Avoid using flavored lip care − Many lip balms have flavors of fruits or other edible substances. This promotes the habit of lip-licking because of the flavors.

  • Hydration − A person must drink plenty of water to prevent drying of the lips.

  • Avoid using too much makeup − The harsh chemicals used in makeup may cause allergic reactions or may strip away the moisture of the lips. This will eventually lead to dry and chapped lips. Using herbal or homemade skin care can be used throughout the day as it will benefit the lips.

  • Healthy diet − A balanced diet is a must to reduce the risk of vitamin deficiencies that cause dry mouth and lips. Adding a good amount of zinc and vitamin B to the diet would benefit your lips to heal and become healthier.


Chapped lips can be very painful and can make it difficult to eat, drink, and speak. Open, raw skin on the lips is susceptible to infection, which can cause redness, swelling, and discharge. If left untreated, chapped lips may lead to scarring, which can be permanent.

Chapped lips can make it difficult to drink and eat, leading to dehydration and other related health problems. For people with skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea, chapped lips can exacerbate symptoms and make them worse.