Cheilitis is one of the most annoying, obsessive-compulsion inducing conditions ever… it’s also known as chapped lips.
Google’s overview tool estimates that there are over 3 million cases of chapped lips in the United States every year.
Winter weather and wind can make even the most moisturized lips become dry, cracked, and painful.
Sometimes though, chapped lips seem to come out of nowhere overnight, causing you to keep licking and biting at peeling lips all day.
So what causes this little annoyance?
You’d be surprised to know it can come from many different things.
What Causes the Lips to Chap?
The lips are an especially delicate area of the skin.
Whereas the skin on our bodies has up to 16 stratum corneum layers (the outermost skin layer) our lips only have 3-5 layers.
This is what makes the lips so soft (and so vulnerable)!
Unlike the rest of your skin, your lips do not have oil glands, so they have no way of rehydrating themselves.
They also don’t have melanin!
This means that they need a little bit more help in healing and protecting them from the elements.
There are about 9 different types of cheilitis, each varying in severity.
Cheilitis simplex is a more severe affliction of chapped lips, usually characterized by tears at the mouth’s corner.
Chapped lips can vary from an annoyance, to pain that plagues you throughout the day.
Bad weather and exposure to the elements can cause lips to dry and crack, but your diet and medications also play a part in your overall lip and skin health.
Licking Your Lips
This is one of the most common causes of dry lips.
When your lips start cracking, it’s almost impossible to resist the urge to lick them, but this only makes it worse.
When the saliva evaporates from your lips, any moisture that was in your lips will evaporate with it.
The enzymes in your saliva that help to break down your food also take action on your lips.
If you can, resist the urge to lick or bite your lips and reach for chapstick instead!
It might sound strange, but your lips can be sunburnt!
Just like the rest of your skin, they need a little extra protection from the sun.
Although it’s rare.
Actinic Cheilitis is a type of skin cancer you can get on the lips.
Going out with lip gloss and chapsticks that don’t contain SPF does even more damage and acts as a tanning oil on your lips.
Autoimmune diseases are usually accompanied by sensitivity to heat and the sun, so make sure not to leave your skin out of your sunscreen routine.
Make sure to look for chapsticks with SPF to moisturize and protect from damage.
By now, you’ve probably heard of the importance of hydration for your skin’s health and vibrancy and the same goes for your lips.
Dehydration also compounds any dryness caused by sunburn.
It’s important to first hydrate from the inside to keep lips firm, plump, and healthy.
Certain prescription meds such as accutane, propranolol, prochlorperazine, retinoids, and chemotherapy medications can cause your lips to dry out.
If you continue taking these medications and notice your lips are constantly dry, it’s best to keep chapstick handy throughout the day.
A diet high in citrus and vitamin A can also have unfortunate effects on your lips.
The maximum consumption recommendation of vitamin A is 25,000 IU per day so if you’re taking a supplement or eating lots of foods high in Vitamin A (like liver, cheese, and some types of fish), cutting back should restore moisture back to your lips.
Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B can also cause dryness, so make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamins in your daily diet.
Eczema & Other Medical Conditions
Eczema can also cause extremely chapped lips, called lip dermatitis.
Lip dermatitis differs from your everyday chapped lips in its severity.
Lip dermatitis is usually characterized by scaly, flaky, inflamed patches of skin on and around the mouth and prolonged dryness.
Unlike typical eczema, lip dermatitis is contagious and should be treated by a doctor if it doesn’t improve within a few days.
Thyroid diseases, psoriasis, and diabetes can also cause chapping and discomfort, but it can be managed by using one or a combination of the remedies below.
11 Ways to Treat Stubborn Chapped Lips & Prevent them from Happening
Chapped lips can vary in severity and pain but there are plenty of over the counter and at-home remedies to help provide relief for even the most rugged lips.
There are so many natural moisturizing ingredients right in your kitchen.
Any of these mixtures can be used in combination with your TLC face masks or overnight to lock in moisture as you sleep.
If you notice that your lips haven’t improved over the course of a few days with treatment or have gotten worse, contact your doctor as they should be able to better identify what is causing your lips to chap and help you find a more tailored treatment option.
1. Don’t lick your lips!
We know it’s hard, but it’ll only prolong the dryness.
Try drawing a small symbol on your hand so that you’ll remind yourself not to lick or bite your lips every time you happen to see it.
2. Forget artificially scented and flavored lip balms.
If you don’t have chapped lips, scented lip balms can make your day a little sweeter but if your lips are already irritated, head for the simple ingredient chapsticks that will provide moisture without any irritating artificial scents.
3. Breathe through your nose.
Have you ever woken up after a night with a cold and noticed your lips are dry?
Frequently breathing through the mouth can dry the entire mouth out, including the lips.
If a stuffy nose is holding you back, no worries, but apply one of the topical treatments below!
4. Drop tobacco.
As if we needed another reason not to use tobacco, smoking and chewing tobacco dries the mouth and lips and can cause mouth cancer and sores.
5. DIY Sugar Scrubs
Sugar scrubs do wonders for getting that dry, peeling skin off of your lips while nourishing and moisturizing the skin underneath.
Just mix 2 teaspoons of sugar with 1 teaspoon of honey, coconut oil, castor oil, or olive oil and massage into the lips until the loose skin comes up.
Then, just rinse and repeat the next day!
We love this solution because it is so easy to do with ingredients you probably already have at home and it tastes sweet too!
6. Overnight Lip Masks
Similar to face masks, there are sheet masks explicitly made to nourish your lips!
Check out our blogfor a full rundown of how lip masks work and how to shop for the right ones or DIY them yourself!
7. Petroleum and Honey
Simple enough, but powerful!
Honey has been proven to improve the skin’s moisture and adjust the acidity of the skin.
Petroleum has been proven to help heal wounds even after surgery.
It can be used on cracked heels, lips, and even a dry nose.
You can use a 1:1 ratio of these two household items and apply them throughout the day instead of chapstick.
8. Cucumber Treatment
If you have an extra couple slices of cucumbers, all you have to do is cut them in thin slices and rub on the lips to give your lips an extra moisture kick.
9. Use a humidifier
Harsh dry air can dry out your lips even indoors.
Humidifiers (especially with essential oils) can help you to relax and get a little extra TLC for your skin and lips.
10. Drink lots of Water
Hydrate from the inside out!
If you have trouble drinking water throughout the day, try adding lemon juice or other flavorings to make it more of a treat and less of a chore. Your entire body will thank you.
11. Don’t Skimp on the Sun Screen
There’s no point in letting your lips get exposed to harmful UV rays and get dried out.
Protect your pout!
Do go heavy on the SPF.
Shop for It
The Luscious Lip Kit
This two-step lip kit is perfect for reversing serious damage and providing instant relief for aching, dry lips.
The first step, the Lip Repair Balm, is infused with peppermint essential oil to cool and soothe lips.
It also uses beeswax for extra-plumping power.
The second step, Moisturizing Lip Gloss, provides more healing power with a slight skin tint to help keep lips looking fresh and done up.
Anti-Aging Tea Tree Lip Balm Pot
This lip balm has it all.
Formulated with a blend of tea tree oil, collagen protein, coconut extract and pomegranate sterols, this balm is exceptionally hydrating and offers anti-aging ingredients to keep skin looking fresh and young.
It also has SPF 15 to protect the moisture and youthfulness of your lips!
Illuminating Eye and Lip Treatment
Two for one?
This treatment restores moisture to the eyes and the lips.
It restores the skin’s natural barriers to lock in moisture while packing in tons of antioxidants to fight aging free-radicals.
Nightly Lip Treatment
Using a product overnight will help lock in moisture while you sleep, leaving you with fresh, plump, and moisturized lips first thing in the morning.
When you use a nightly treatment, you don’t need to worry about the other stuff like licking the lips, accidentally ingesting the product, or wearing away as you talk.
This leaves plenty of time for this nightly treatment to get to work!
This treatment can also be applied to laugh lines and wrinkles around the mouth to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles!
Lip Repair Balm
This 100% organic lip repair balm is in the classic twist-up tube we’re all used to but eliminates the need to reapply again and again throughout the day.
It uses naturally derived peppermint oil to give you that refreshing feel and taste without artificial ingredients or fragrances.
Forget lip smackers, keep it natural!