Chapped lips not only look awful and painful (at least on me!), but they can also be incredibly awful and painful as well, leaving us chapped lip sufferers with the question: What exactly is causing damage to our lips?
I don’t think there is any person out there who can say they’ve never had chapped lips at least once in their life. Do these symptoms sounds familiar to you? According to Healthline, some of the main symptoms of chapped lips include dryness, flaking, scales, sores, swelling, cracks, and bleeding. Ouch! I once had lips so chapped as a child that my friend woke up in the middle of the night at a sleepover and said it looks like I was the girl from The Exorcist sleeping next to her, with cut-up, horrible-looking lips.
The skin on our lips is very sensitive — a lot more so than we might think. In addition to the sensitivity, think of just how much our lips are exposed to every day. We might be constantly touching them with our lips, teeth or even fingers, putting food to them, and using them for a whole lot of makeout sessions if we're lucky.
Considering all of these things, the skin on our lips requires extra care — and the right kind of care. Hopefully this article is successful in giving you the necessary insight into why your lips get chapped, and what to do about it. Here are six things that can result in chapped lips, along with some thoughts on how we can prevent and fix them.
1. Licking Your Lips
Is it weird that the phrase, “licking your lips,” totally grosses me out? Aside from the potential grossing out factor, there is a definite drying out factor. Your lips become chapped when you lick them because saliva from the tongue strips them of moisture, making them extremely dry, according to Healthline.
What’s up with saliva that is does this? According to Barbara Reed, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado, saliva contains enzymes made to help digest food rather than provide moisture to our lips. Then, when the air quickly evaporates the saliva from our lips after we’ve licked them, we end up repeating the licking over and over (I’m doing this now, just from typing the words!). Before we know it, the top layer of skin on our lips is dried out, causing it to shrink, detach, and flake away. How do we best combat this? Let’s break the habit. Try to be as conscious as possible about the act of licking your lips, and avoid doing it consciously.
2. Biting Your Lips
I’ve heard this can be a seductive tactic for trying to lure in a sexual partner, but ladies — think of your poor lips! Logically, if we’re gnawing on our lips, we’re leaving them open to tearing and cracking. Our teeth are irritating our lips, big time. According to Daily Makeover, when combined with licking our lips, biting them further loosens the dry skin leading to disaster.
After attempting to break the habit of both licking and biting your lips, try to lock in some moisture for your lips overnight, as well. A good tactic is to sleep with a humidifier in your room at night to increase the amount of moisture in the air, according to Huffington Post.
3. Drinking Too Much Alcohol
We all have heard plenty of times that alcohol can leave us feeling dehydrated, but have you considered that this dehydration also takes place on the lips? If you were channeling your inner Olivia Pope last night by drinking wine and watching Scandal, and woke up this morning with painful lips — this dehydrating effect is why. According to Healthline, dehydration is one of the main causes of chapped lips. There are plenty of reasons why we don’t want to be dehydrated (e.g., it can cause lightheadedness, constipation, dry mouth, and headaches), but let’s go ahead and now add chapped lips to that list! What do you do now? Get your body hydrated again with plenty of water, and keep your Chapstick nearby throughout the day to help in the recovery. Also, think twice before having the extra glass of alcohol at night — realizing your lips might not be the only part of your body hating you for it in the morning.
4. Eating Salty Or Spicy Foods
If you’re prone to dry lips, avoiding salty foods could be your saving grace. I’ve always been an avid Lauren Conrad follower, so when I read an article on her blog about chapped lips and it noted avoiding salty and spicy foods, I took the advice and ran with it. It’s actually been extremely helpful for me. According to the post, salty foods irritate your lips and cause inflammation. Same goes for spicy food. If you’re someone likely to get chapped lips, or your in the process of healing your currently chapped lips, instead try bulking up on non-citrus fruits and vegetables, which are known to help work your body’s pH balance in favor of curing and preventing chapped lips.
5. Very Dry Weather Conditions
Just as the skin on the rest of your body can get dry from certain dry weather conditions, your lips are susceptible as well. According to Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, “Dry weather and wind is a common cause. Low humidity increases evaporation from the lips and causes dryness and cracking.” To help seal in moisture and keep lips smooth and hydrated despite dry weather, try something like Chapstick Total Hydration, which keeps moisture locked in.
6. Having Too Much Citrus In Your Diet
According to Daily Makeover, your lips might be incredibly angry with you for consuming too much citrus — like that found in orange juice, grapefruit and tangerines, as they can cause dryness around the mouth. Once we’ve cut back on some of these citrus-y drinks and foods, we might notice an improvement on the overall feel and appearance of our lips. What to do if your lips are already completely chapped and cracking? According to Daily Makeover, another tactic that might help is rubbing Aloe Vera on your lips, as it could help relieve the pain and heal cuts.
Armed with some of this knowledge on what can cause chapped lips, we can now practice the techniques discussed here to prevent and cure them. We’ll be so happy we did as we sail through this winter with smooth, moisturized lips.