Chapped lips occur because of dryness. Factors such as wind, sun, cold, dry air, lip licking, open-mouth breathing, dehydration and allergic reactions to certain lip cosmetics can trigger the development of chapped lips. This ailment can result in pain, discomfort and embarrassment. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to both treat and prevent the condition of chapped lips.
Use Flavorless Lip Balm
The Mayo Clinic recommends using a beeswax or oil-based lip balm to guard your lips against sun damage and dry weather. However, experts at North Western Health Sciences University recommend avoiding flavored lip balms which may tempt you to lick your lips. Saliva, especially in colder, dryer conditions, can evaporate quickly, causing lips to dry out faster when licked. Tastier lip balms increase your licking temptation factor and may hurt you more than help. If you happen to have chapped lips despite your use of protection, then consider switching to a lip balm with less flavor.
Since chapped lips occur in dryer conditions, make sure to stay well-hydrated when exposed to less humid situations. This may mean buying a humidifier for your home if you persistently get chapped lips. Also, dermatologist, Dr. Diana Bihova, of MotherNature.com, suggests drinking plenty of fluids during the winter. In fact, moisturizing the inside of your mouth may help chapped lips even more than wetting the outside.
Replace Irritating Toothpastes and Cosmetics
Dermatoligst, Dr. Thomas Goodman, Jr., says certain toothpaste flavors, as well as candy, chewing gum and mouthwash additives, can cause lip irritations resulting in chapped lips. He also adds that tartar control toothpastes may be even more drying to the lips than other types. If you suspect your lips chap more with certain cosmetics, toothpastes or other mouth-related products, then stop using them temporarily to see if this makes a difference. If this does, then find an alternative to your toothpaste or cosmetic.
Aside from its well-known, adverse side effects, smoking may also cause dryness and chapping of the lips. Research at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) proposes giving up smoking to prevent the evaporation of natural lip oils. These oils otherwise keep the lips hydrated during periods of dryness.
About this Author
Sky Smith has been writing on psychology, electronics, health, and fitness since 2002 for various online publications. He graduated from the University of Florida with honors in 2005, earning a B.S. in psychology and statistics with a minor in math.