The lips are a unique part of the body. The skin there is much thinner than other areas on the face, and the lips have one of the highest levels of transepidermal water loss (when water evaporates from the skin’s surface) on the body, meaning that the outer layer of the skin on the lips is not very good at staying hydrated.
Here are a few tips on how to keep your lips moisturized and how to avoid chapped lips, as well as what to do if nothing else seems to be working to fix your chapped lips.
What Causes Dry Lips?
Many things can cause chapped lips. External factors, such as low humidity, windy environments and sun damage can trigger dry, cracked or peeling lips. Our lips are the only part of the body where mucosa (the lining of internal body cavities) is persistently exposed to the outside. Here are ways to maintain soft, moist lips:
- It is important to protect our lips with lip balm and sunscreen with frequent reapplication. Like various body lotions and cosmetics, there are lip balms on the market that come equipped with SPF. Look for a lip balm with SPF 30 or above. Reapply several times a day.
- It is also important to keep ourselves hydrated by drinking enough water, especially when we are sick, as chapped lips can be a sign of dehydration.
Chapped lips can also be caused by contact dermatitis to products that you may be using or other things your lips may be encountering. If you have chapped lips, it is best to avoid scented, flavored or colored lip products, including lipstick and lip balms that have scents or added flavoring.
Other Causes of Chapped Lips
While the most common causes of chapped lips are inadequate skincare and poor hydration, chapped lips can also be a sign of the following:
- Potential vitamin deficiency, though this is rare. Vitamin B especially plays an important role in skin health.
- Infections of the skin, including bacteria and yeast, can also cause peeling or painful lips.
If your lips do not improve with frequent reapplication of a moisturizing, fragrance-free lip balm and sunscreen after a few weeks, it is a good idea to see a board-certified dermatologist for further evaluation and recommendations.