Chapped lips (Cheilitis) is often a recurrent problem and most people fall into habits that often worsens the dryness rather than improving it!
So why do lips chap?
- Unlike body skin, the skin of the lips is very thin and devoid of oil and sweat glands which are necessary to keep the skin naturally moisturized. As a result lips are more prone to dryness compared to skin of the body.
- What worsens the dryness is frequent licking of the lips!
- Saliva contains digestive enzymes which destroys the delicate skin layers and when it evaporates, the lips end up being even more dry. Most people end up licking the lips again and the end result is dark, chapped, cracked, crusted & painful lips!
- Vitamin B complex deficiency causes cracks on the lips and at the angles of the mouth.
- Lip cosmetics- matte lipsticks, lip plumpers ( containing menthol, cinnamon, pepper, capsaicin and other irritants), long lasting lip sticks, Lipsticks with fragrances often do more damage than enhance beauty!
- Rare causes of lip chapping include contact irritants like gel based toothpastes, infections, certain medicines, excessive intake of Vit A, psoriasis & long term sun exposure.
How can I keep my lips soft, supple & moisturized?
- Apply petroleum jelly and gently brush off the flaky dried skin with a soft toothbrush or a mild lip scrub.
- Follow it with a bland lip balm which forms a protective barrier and keeps lips fuller and moisturized. Look out for lip balms containing petrolatum, beeswax, Shea butter, mango butter, cocoa butter, almond oil,castor oil, humectants like glycerine, hyaluronic acid.
- Use a lip balm with added sunscreens with SPF 15 when out in sun to prevent darkening.
- Use lip balms as many times as needed. Yes, you heard it right! It is a myth that you can get addicted to lip balms.
- Keep yourself well hydrated and have a well balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, fermented foods, dairy (and/or fish & lean meat)
- Despite these measures, if your lips still keep cracking and chapping then do not hesitate to get a dermatologist’s opinion.