Why Are My Lips Chapped? Top 5 Reasons

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why are my lips chapped

Chapped lips are a common skin condition among all ages and sexes, with both hot and cold weather causing this condition in part.

And although chapped lips are often associated with the climate, there are actually numerous other reasons that may cause this.

From everyday habits to underlying health concerns, here are some of the top reasons why your lips may be chapped lips occur. Plus, some easy ways to treat chapped lips:

1. Lip Licking

Often, we lick our lips as a reaction to heat, cold, or boredom. Though this may seem harmless enough, this habit can actually cause lip-licking dermatitis.

According to studies on the national library NCBI, lip-licking dermatitis is caused by the digestive enzymes found in saliva. Because the lips have more delicate skin, these enzymes break down the prospective barrier of this area over time.

This leads to symptoms like cracked skin, dry lips, and even bleeding. The effects of lip-licking are even exacerbated in harsh conditions wherein the saliva evaporates and causes the surface of the lips to dry faster. If you find that you’re frequently licking your lips, try to apply lip balm to discourage the habit.

2. Vitamin Deficiency

vitamin deficiency

Your lips can be a great indicator of your overall health. If you’re experiencing a vitamin deficiency, the state of your lips can reflect this. As explained on SymptomFind, which has several articles on lip care and vitamin intake, a lack of vitamins like B6 and B12 can cause chronic chapped lips.

Aside from these, not having enough iron or zinc in your system can also cause dryness that can progress to chapping. A sign that poor vitamin intake may be behind your dry chapped lips is if it’s accompanied by brittle nails and dry mouth.

If you suspect that a lack of vitamins is behind your condition, try adding multivitamins into your daily diet. If you’re on certain medications or have other pre-existing health issues, try asking a physician for a prescription. They’ll be able to assess which lip products can heal chapped lips and what vitamins you need more of.

3. Dehydration

signs of dehydration

When you’re dehydrated, your body will pull water from select parts to keep cells hydrated. This often manifests on the skin, which is why dehydrated people have flaky skin and chapped lips.

To prevent your lips from chapping due to dehydration, be mindful of what can cause it. Some of the most common reasons for dehydration include consuming too many salty foods or not drinking enough fluids.

By understanding what can cause your dehydration, you can address these early before symptoms (including severely chapped lips) start to show. If you frequently forget to hydrate, try to keep a water bottle near you at all times.

Usually, after you’ve increased your hydration levels, you can see positive results in two to three weeks. If, despite this, you’re still constantly thirsty or have cracked lips, consider consulting a doctor to pinpoint why you’re still dehydrated.

4. Excessive lip balm

lip balm chapped lips

Lip balms are among the proven treatments for chapped lips. However, just like anything else, in excess, lip balm can be counterproductive.

In interviews with dermatologists, it’s revealed that too much lip ointments can discourage the natural production of oil glands in the lips. This causes dryness and can make chapped lips worse. Sadly, this causes many to keep using more lip balm in the hopes of helping chapped lips heal.

To prevent this, try to use a lip balm that is color- and fragrance-free. This way, you won’t be tempted by the flavor or tint to keep applying. Some ingredients that you should also look for are petroleum jelly, shea butter, ceramides, and castor oil.

If you experience a lot of sun exposure, try to look for lip balms with zinc oxide or aloe vera to protect against sun damage. These types of plain lip balms can treat dry skin without damaging sensitive skin.

5. Allergies


Typical allergy symptoms include skin conditions like itchiness and hives. But another common allergy symptom is lip inflammation and peeling skin.

Considering that the ACAAI’s official site states that over 50 million people have allergies, your chapped lips may actually be a manifestation of an undiagnosed allergic reaction. If you’re not sure what may be triggering your allergies, these can come from foods or ingredients in makeup or skincare.

For instance, the enzymes in pineapple can cause mouth irritations in some people. At the same time, ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can be extra drying around the lips. To truly determine what allergies may be causing your chapped lips, consider a patch test.

This will help you pinpoint what causes your reactions, and how to avoid further irritation. In the meantime, try to soothe the skin around your mouth by applying lip balm around the lip line, too.

Generally, chapped lips aren’t cause for concern. But when left untreated the skin on your lips can become very painful. Hence, it’s better to nip this issue in the bud.

By understanding the reasons behind chapped lips, you’re in a better position to treat chapped lips effectively and efficiently.

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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