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One could argue that lips are the most attractive facial feature. But lips are also the most vulnerable as they don't have any sebaceous glands and don't produce melanin naturally. This means the lips have practically no natural protection, requiring a special TLC, particularly during winter when low temperatures and humidity dry out our skin very quickly and cause chapped lips.
Dry skin cracks and peels more easily, resulting in visible dry skin flakes as well as small wounds that can be pretty painful and even bleed. All of this can make our most attractive feature not so cute but also unpleasant.
The good news is that chapped lips are often easily treatable, and in today's guide, we'll share some tips and tricks to keep your lips healthy and beautiful.
Chapped Lips Causes and Symptoms
In short, chapped lips are a very common issue, especially during cold and windy winter months. They are extremely dry, rough to the touch, and prone to cracking, which can lead to inflammation.
Almost everybody experienced lip chapping at some point in their life, and it usually doesn't point to some underlying medical condition (although, in some cases, it does). The most common causes of chapped lips are extremely hot or cold temperatures that can lead to dry and dehydrated skin. Other times, it can be an allergy, biting or licking your lips too often, a deficit of iron or vitamin B, or some medication you're taking.
In any case, chapped lips will be whitish in color and with an uneven surface that peels and flakes. The more unpleasant symptoms may include itchiness, stinging, burning as well as tiny cracks or wounds that bleed.
All in all, it's your body's way of telling you that you need to make some changes or that you need to take better care of your lips.
How to Heal Chapped Lips
If you haven't been paying special attention to your lips lately, consider the chapping a sign that you should take the time to pamper them a bit. The first step towards healing your chapped lips is determining the reason for the chapping and confronting it head-on.
If you try out our tips for healing chapped lips, but the problem persists, it probably means that you're not dealing with a 'regular' lip chapping but rather some other type of lip infection. In this case, you need to visit a dermatologist.
So, here's how to deal with chapped lips and bring them back to their former glory:
Use Lip Balm Often and A Lot
One of the easiest ways to heal chapped lips is to use some rich lip balm during the day and a nourishing lip mask before going to bed. However, not all lip balms are suitable for chapped lips, especially not the ones filled with artificial flavoring or fragrances. You should also steer clear of ingredients like menthol, phenol, salicylic acid, and camphor, as they can only irritate the skin further [source].
The best thing would be to get a lip balm containing petroleum, beeswax, ceramides, mineral oil, dimethicone, or some natural ingredients like natural butters (shea butter) or oils (castor oil or hemp seed oil). These ingredients will all contribute to soothing the chapped skin and reducing irritation or inflammation. Once you find the perfect lip balm, you should use it several times daily.
Use Lip Balms With SPF During the Day
While on the topic of lip balms, we want to add that you should consider getting a lip balm with an SPF. Oftentimes, lip chapping can be caused by sun damage since our lips don't have any natural protection from harmful UV rays.
So, to avoid having dehydrated and sunburnt lips, apply lip balm with an SPF before leaving home and reapply it often. Any lip balm with at least 30 SPF will be a good choice, but you can use a higher SPF if you think you need the extra protection.
Exfoliate Once a Week
Exfoliating the lips can be a bit tricky. It's an excellent choice for people who have only a slight chapping of the lips. If the chapping is severe and painful, you should skip the exfoliation, at least at the beginning of the healing process, and replace it with something more soothing, like a mid-day lip mask.
Whether you're using a simple homemade sugar, honey, and coconut oil scrub or one of the store-bought varieties, don't exfoliate too often, as it can irritate your lips even further. So, it would be best to do it once a week or once every two weeks with sugar-based scrubs as these hydrate the lips in addition.
Try Out Natural Lip Remedies
Of all the chapped lip remedies, you may find some natural and simple remedies the most soothing. Unless you're allergic to some of these remedies, they are definitely worth a try. They are the least likely to cause irritation or further chapping while also being best at softening the skin and helping reduce irritation and inflammation.
Some natural lip remedies we recommend are aloe vera gel, honey, and green tea. These three ingredients are known for their healing properties, reducing inflammation, and preventing infections. Other good remedies for dry and flaky skin on the lips are coconut oil, cucumber, shea butter, cocoa butter, and olive oil, making the lips moist and smooth.
While you can use these remedies directly on the skin, you can also use some lip ointments that contain them.
Drink Enough Water
Since one of the most common reasons for chapped lips is dehydration, drinking enough water throughout the day should be your No.1 line of defense. So, make it a task to drink at least eight glasses of water throughout the day. This also includes hydrating fruits and veggies, teas, and soups.
Use a Humidifier
Dry air draws the moisture out of your skin, leaving it sallow and dehydrated and your lips chapped. So, make sure that the air in the room where you spend most of your time and where you sleep is humid enough. Place a humidifier in your bedroom, which will keep the air in that room moist during the night, keeping your skin and lips plump ad healthy, especially during the winter months.
The only problem with humidifiers is that they can be expensive, so not everyone can afford to get one. If you don't have a humidifier and cannot invest in one at the moment, you should consider placing bowls of water on your heaters. That will help make the air more humid and keep your skin intact.
Vaseline, or petroleum jelly, is another excellent way to retain moisture in your lips. It's a highly occlusive ingredient, creating a barrier on your skin and preventing water from escaping. So, it would be best to use it together with a humectant – humectants are ingredients that draw the water into your skin and hold onto it.
There are numerous petroleum jelly-based lip balms you can get, but you can also use Vaseline itself. However, make sure to apply a hydrating lip balm or mask before applying Vaseline to your lips.
Don't Lick or Bite Lips
While it may feel like a temporary relief, licking your lips will only worsen the issue in the long run. This is because the saliva on your lips quickly evaporates, leaving the lips susceptible to even more drying and chapping.
The same goes for biting your lips. You could only increase the soreness and even cause bleeding. So, try to avoid licking and biting your lips as much as possible in order not to worsen the chapping.
Avoid Peeling Flaky Skin
Similarly to licking and biting your lips, peeling the flaky skin from them can also worsen the situation. We all know how difficult it is to leave the flaky skin alone. The urge to pick at it and rip it off is undeniable, but doing so could only lead to more soreness and flakiness.
You might accidentally rip a piece of healthy skin, causing more pain and possibly an infection. It'll take a long time to heal such infections and wounds, so it's better to avoid causing them in the first place.
See a Doctor
If nothing helps your chapped lips and the chapping continues for several weeks, something more serious might be happening. In that case, you should see a doctor and ask for advice on how to deal with the problem.
Don't be scared if your lips start cracking. There might be many causes for chapped lips, but there are twice as many remedies. Following the tips in our guide will certainly help heal your chapped lips and also prevent them from happening in the first place.
With that being said, always pay close attention to what your skin is telling you. And if the problem persists or worsens, make sure to see a doctor.
How do you heal a chapped lip?
Chapped lips are usually a sign that your lips are dehydrated. So, make sure to drink enough water and use a humidifier in those rooms where you spend most of your time. In addition, frequently apply lip balm with shea butter, ceramides, and moisturizing ingredients.
Is chapped lips a symptom of anything?
Chapped lips are usually a symptom of dehydration when the weather is extremely hot or cold. Sometimes, it can be a sign that you have vitamin B or iron deficiency or can be caused by some medication you're taking.
What causes chapped lips?
The most common cause of lip chapping is dry and hot weather or excessively cold temperatures and winds. All of these can cause your skin to be dehydrated, leading to rough, dry, and flaky lips.
Why won't my chapped lips heal?
If your chapped lips refuse to heal even after taking good care of them, it could mean you're dealing with some kind of infection. In that case, you need to visit a doctor to get the proper treatment.
How long do chapped lips last?
It will depend on the state of your lips, but you can expect your lips to heal after three weeks. However, if the issue persists, it could mean you're having a yeast infection, an allergy, or a more severe condition that requires medical attention.