Chapped Lips (Cheilitis): Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and Prevention

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

What are Chapped Lips?

Chapped lips is a minor, and also the most common, form of lip inflammation known as Cheilitis, which causes our lips to either crack, fissure or peel that often results in a very uncomfortable feeling whenever the lips are stretched while speaking or eating. If not treated promptly, chapped lips can transform into chronic chapped lips and can progress to the extent that the lips start bleeding.

Chapped Lips Symptoms

You are suffering from chapped lips if you have even one of the following symptoms:

  • Cracks in the lips
  • Dry skin on the lips
  • Pain whenever you stretch your lips e.g. to eat or talk etc

These symptoms, if diagnosed, can only mean chapped lips or something similarly worse. Treatment should be done as quickly as possible in order to prevent the situation from getting worse and painful.

What Causes Chapped Lips?

Most people have the tendency to unthinkingly bite, chew, or lick their lips from time to time during work, while watching TV, reading or doing any day to day activity. What you don’t realize is that this seemingly harmless habit is severely damaging your lips. To understand these habits can damage your lips, your first need to understand the mechanism of your lips.

Your lips have a very thin coat of oil on them, which locks in the moisture to keep your lips moist and warm. However, when you apply saliva on your lips by licking, chewing, or biting on them, you unintentionally remove this very thin, but very important layer of oil from the lips. This in turn leads to loss of moisture from the lips, which in turn causes chapped lips.

However, this is not the only way you get chapped lips. In cold weather, or dusty winds, your lips might lose moisture naturally, which leads to chapped lips.

What Can We do About It?

Chapped lips can make a person very uncomfortable, so it’s best to avoid getting them. There are a number of treatments available for chapped lips, but it’s best to take preventive measures rather than to endure the pain of having chapped lips. Some effective treatments and prevention methods have been listed below.

How to Get Rid of Chapped Lips

There are two ways to get rid of chapped lips. The first way is the traditional one, which is to drink more and more water. Water is the source of all the moisture within our body, so you may very well be suffering from chapped lips due to lack of drinking enough water everyday. Increase your water intake, and it might be the only thing you need to cure your chapped lips problem.

Treatments

The second way to get rid of chapped lips is through proper treatment. It is best to promptly treat chapped lips otherwise the condition can turn chronic and can cause greater and more prolonged problems for you. Some effective treatments are:

  • Apply Lip Balm Frequently Throughout The Day: Purchase a good quality lip balm and apply it whenever you feel like your lips are going dry. You have to keep your lips moisturized at all times to cure chapped lips
  • Apply Olive Oil: If your lips are chapped due to your own biting and licking, then applying a thin layer of olive oil to substitute the removed layer of oil on your lips might just do the trick
  • Use Humidifier in Your Home/Office: If possible, use a humidifier in your surrounding to moisten up the air. This in turn will moisten up your lips and cure chapped lips

Prevention

Even though there are ways to cure chapped lips, but the not getting them in the first place should be your priority. You can do a number of things to avoid chapped lips. You should stop licking, biting or chewing on your lips to avoid removing the essential layer of oil from the lips. Also during cold season you should apply lip balm or any other artificial moisturizer to ensure that your lips are always moisturized. Some other factors to consider are:

  • Diet: Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet to ensure you are getting all the important nutrients. Nutritional deficiency can also cause chapped lips
  • Try Switching Toothpaste: Chapped lips are sometimes a reaction to fluoride toothpaste for some people. Try switching to a fluoride free toothpaste as a preventive measure

Conclusion

We all suffer from chapped lips, yet we all deal with them differently. Some of us apply lip balm to moisturize the lips, some of us use glycerin, while some of us don’t even bother to do anything at all. But the annoyance created by chapped lips is hardly tolerable. With chapped lips we can’t eat spicy food, our lips look ugly and, if not treated soon enough, it can very well turn into an infection.

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Author

Expert Author : Andrea Moore (Consumer Health Digest)

Andrea Moore has been a senior writer for Consumer Health Digest for more than a decade. She specializes in in all topics related to health, fitness, nutrition, and beauty. She has also worked as a communications and marketing professional. Connect with Andrea on Facebook for constant updates on her projects.