Chapped lips are a common symptom of the lips, but “most cases of chapped lips can be treated within a few weeks without a dermatologist’s intervention,” says board-certified dermatologist Eve Rodney, founding director of dermatology and aesthetics and professor of pathology. Dermatology at Howard University and George Washington University.
Chapped lips can occur in anyone of any age. Children and teens who lick their lips are often more prone to chapped lips than others, and they may develop a condition called contact dermatitis that results in a rash around the mouth as well as chapped lips.
What is chapped lips?
Chapped lips is a condition in which the lips are at risk of drying out and cracking, and is medically known as cheilitis. The skin of the lips is thinner and more sensitive than the rest of the body, and it does not contain sebaceous glands to moisturize it.
Chapped lips are usually dry, and they can be very annoying, and they can cause severe pain when eating some types of food, such as citrus fruits, spicy and salty foods. They can also cause temporary irritation until treated. Persistent and severe chapped lips may be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Symptoms of chapped lips
Symptoms of chapped lips include:
- Dry or scaly lips.
- Chapped skin.
- peeling of the skin;
- Slight pain, which increases when eating some types of food.
- Ulcers on the lips and mouth.
Causes of chapped lips
The lips are exposed to the elements more than the rest of your body, and can crack as a result of exposure to the sun, dry weather or cold conditions. Chapped lips can also occur as a result of the following reasons:
1- Contact with allergens of the lips
Some people may be allergic to some common ingredients in lip products, especially dyes or fragrances. Using lip balms that contain allergens can make lips dry, red, and cracked.
Not only will an allergic reaction cause peeling, but also widespread redness and swelling around the lips, says Dr. Day. Dr. Friedman also explained that cinnamic acid or cinnamon derivatives, which are found in some types of toothpaste , are common allergens in toothpaste, and can cause lip irritation.
2- Too much sun exposure
Prolonged exposure to the sun's UV rays can seriously damage lips and lead to dryness and cracking.
It can also lead to a condition called actinic keratosis, which causes scaly bumps to form on the lips. These bumps are not dangerous, but they can become cancerous, so they need to be treated as soon as possible.
3- Cold weather
A combination of external factors causes chapped lips, as the temperature drops in fall and winter, moisture levels tend to drop in the atmosphere, as dry air draws moisture from the skin, which is why people often suffer from chapped lips during cold periods. of the year.
According to Doris Day, MD, and Adam Friedman, also MD, peeling is just a side effect of the physiological makeup of your lips.
4- Licking the lips frequently
When a person's lips are dry, they instinctively lick them to add moisture. Licking may temporarily moisturize the lips, but this habit can make things worse. When saliva evaporates, it draws moisture from the surface of the lips.
Dr. Friedman says this is probably the worst thing you can do for dry lips. According to him, “Saliva is made up of enzymes meant to break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates, which your lips are made of.” "You literally purse your lips when you do that."
5- Having a medical condition
Some medical conditions, such as: allergies, thyroid disorders, and some autoimmune disorders, cause chapped and dry lips. In addition to iron deficiency, vitamin B deficiency.
6- Getting dehydrated
Dehydration is one of the main causes of chapped lips, and it mainly results from a lack of drinking water.
So the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend that women get about 11.5 cups of fluids per day, from liquids and foods. Water is best, but other beverages are also important.
7 - Some of the ingredients that go into lip products
Some lip balms, lipsticks, and similar products contain ingredients that can make dry lips worse. Some of these ingredients include: fragrances and flavorings, menthol, eucalyptus, camphor, and candles.
A diet that includes a lot of salty or spicy foods such as pretzels or potato chips is a reason for peeling lips.
Dr. Doris Day, MD, says that salty foods, especially those with a lot of salt on the outside that come in contact with the lips, can definitely affect the skin there. "Salt retains water, so it can suck water away from the lips and just dry them out," she explains. They can also cause skin irritation and water loss, Dr. Day adds.
9 - Infection with an overgrowth of yeast
Some people suffer from a lack of salivation during sleep while others may experience excessive drooling. These factors can cause an overgrowth of yeast and thus yeast infection in the mouth area.
This type of infection can lead to dry, scaly skin around the mouth and sometimes fissures (when you get small cracks in the corners of the mouth), Dr. Day says.
10 - Vitamin B deficiency
“Different B vitamin deficiencies can lead to dry, cracked lips,” says Dr. Friedman, usually accompanied by a rash around the mouth.
As Dr. Eve J. Rodney, a board-certified dermatologist, notes, most cases result from a vitamin B12 deficiency . Where this vitamin helps the body in cell growth and renewal and thus healing, so its deficiency causes dehydration and slows down healing.
Diagnosis of chapped lips
Diagnosing chapped lips does not require investigations, but a visual examination of your lips and the skin around your mouth can help diagnose it.
Risk factors for chapped lips
Taking certain medications can also increase your risk of chapped lips. Medications and supplements that can cause chapped lips include:
- Vitamin A.
- Retinoid (Retin-A, Differin)
- Lithium, a drug commonly used to treat bipolar disorder.
- Chemotherapy drugs.
- People who are dehydrated or malnourished are more likely to have chapped lips than others.
Also, topical acne medications may contain ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which can dry out the lips. If you touch it, it may crack.
Is chapped lips an indicator of other diseases?
Yes, chapped lips may be a sign of pemphigus neoplasia, which is an extremely rare condition. Pemphigus neoplasia is an "autoimmune disease associated with an underlying cancer," says Dr. Friedman. The hallmark of this condition is erosive oral disease, which causes sores, redness, and swelling around the mouth.
Cracked lips can be an indication of Crohn 's disease , which affects the entire digestive system from the lips to the anus. If you suffer from severe cracks in the lips that do not heal, along with abdominal pain, cracked lips may be an indication.
Tips for preventing chapped lips
- Apply a lip balm, with a sun protection factor, before going out.
- Apply lip balm before going to bed and upon waking.
- Keeping lip balm on hand, in the bag, on the counter, in the car, to use when needed, as the balm helps moisturize the lips.
- Run a humidifier in your home to prevent dry air.
- Avoid licking or biting your lips.
- Keep foreign objects out of your mouth, pens, jewelry, and metal objects.
- If you have sensitive skin, try to avoid spicy foods that can irritate the lips.
- Drink more water, to avoid dehydration.
- Avoid cold weather or cover your mouth with a covering.
Work on exfoliating chapped lips to get rid of dry skin that can prevent the healing ingredients in the lip balm from reaching the correct area. Lip scrubs that contain sugar or baking soda can be used to gently exfoliate dry skin.
Medical treatments for chapped lips
While it might seem like dry, chapped lips are something you have to live with, you can have soft, supple lips all year round. By adding lip care steps to your daily routine, such as choosing a lip balm that contains ingredients that Dr. Rodney says are good when looking for your standard lip balm, including the following:
- Ceramides, Dimethicone that moisturizes.
- Shea butter .
- Vitamin E.
- Free from any fragrance.
- White Vaseline, Glycerin.
- Oils such as castor seed oil, hemp seed oil, and mineral oils.
- The sunscreen should contain titanium oxide and zinc oxide.
Natural remedies for chapped lips
There are many effective natural remedies to soothe and moisturize chapped lips. Some of them may be available in the kitchen. Aloe vera, coconut oil, and honey all have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help prevent infection, moisturize and soothe the skin of the lips:
1- Aloe Vera
The gel inside aloe vera leaves contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, which soothe and moisturize damaged skin.
2- Coconut oil
Obtained from the pulp of the coconut fruit, this oil fights infections and acts as an excellent lip balm.
Honey is an excellent moisturizer, which makes it an excellent remedy for dry lips. It also contains antioxidants and antibacterial properties, which helps reduce inflammation of extremely dry or chapped lips.
4 - Cucumber
It is recommended to massage the lips with cucumber to moisturize them gently, as the cucumber contains vitamins and minerals that can improve the appearance of the lips.
5- Green tea
Green tea contains polyphenols that reduce inflammation, and is rich in antioxidants and minerals, so it is recommended to soak a bag of green tea in warm water, then gently massage the lips with it, to soften and remove excess dry skin. This technique is gentler than traditional peeling.