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Chapped Lips: How to prevent dry lips?

Woman applies balm to her chapped lips
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Dry lips are a common issue, often known as chapped lips. Many people experience this condition throughout the year as the weather changes, or as a side effect to medication. In this article, we’ll share the most common causes of dry lips and things you can try to relieve symptoms.

Symptoms of dry lips

The following are signs or symptoms of dry, chapped lips:

  • Dryness
  • Flaky or scaly skin
  • Cracked lips that may become painful
  • Swelling or sores
  • Bleeding and crusts

Most of these symptoms can be eased with lip balm containing beeswax or petroleum jelly. Apply it regularly to moisturise the lips.

What causes dry lips?

Many things can lead to dry lips but the most common cause is due to a lack of moisture within the outer layer of skin which can make symptoms worse. This in itself is caused by many factors.

Lips are much more susceptible to dryness than other parts of the skin. They don’t contain oil glands and are very sensitive. Add on top the amount of liquid, food, movement and air they endeavour and it’s not surprising that our lips get dry from time to time.

Having dry lips can be very uncomfortable, particularly if they lead to painful cracks or they stay chapped for long periods of time. Here are the most common causes of dry or sore lips:

  • Cold weather
  • Dry hot air
  • Sun damage
  • Dehydration
  • Licking or picking your lips
  • Allergies and irritants

How to treat sore lips?

Taking care of your lips is the best way to treat and prevent dryness. Here are things you can try to relieve symptoms:

  • Use lip balm. A moisturising lip balm or ointment will help to protect your skin from the elements and lock in moisture. Choose one made from beeswax or petroleum jelly that will help to prevent dryness.
  • Protect your lips from the sun. Care for your lips as you would your skin by using products with SPF. Wear SPF lip balm when outdoors year-round, not just in hot weather.
  • Cover lips in cold weather. Wear a scarf in windy, cold climates to protect your lips from harsh weather.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink 2-3 litres of water a day to stay hydrated and avoid having too much alcohol or caffeinated drinks. This will help to fight dry skin in general.
  • Don’t lick your lips. Avoid licking your lips as much as possible to stop saliva from drying them out. Use a lip balm instead to help break the habit.
  • Don’t pick or peel dry skin. Picking, biting or peeling flaky skin on your lips will slow down healing and make them more sore.
  • Use a humidifier. This will help to overcome dry air indoors caused by air conditioning or central heating. Use it at work or overnight to overcome symptoms of dryness.
  • Speak to a doctor. If your lips don’t heal or feel painful, swollen or hot, you should seek medical advice. A pharmacist at your local LloydsPharmacy store will be able to recommend treatments or if you need to see a GP.

Treatment for eczema on lips

People with eczema can sometimes experience dry patches on their lips. This can be caused by excessive licking, dehydration or other external factors. If you or your child has eczema on the lips, there are some things that can help. Various eczema treatments can be used on the surrounding skin to soothe symptoms whilst general care such as avoiding exfoliants, makeup, and perfumed products can help.

In summary, many people experience symptoms of dry lips including cracking, flaky skin and sores. This is more common during colder or dry weather where humidity is at a low, but can also be caused by excessive licking, poor hydration and sun damage.

Make sure to stock up on moisturising lip balms to prevent dry lips. You can also get more tips and advice at LloydsPharmacy including the difference between eczema and psoriasis or how to understand skin conditions in different skin tones.