Featured Question: Treating Dry, Peeling Lips

Source: flickr.com user Symic
Source: flickr.com user Symic

You ask, we answer! Today’s Featured Question was sent to us on Facebook; if you have a question regarding skin care, beauty, dry skin, or skin care conditions, please leave us a comment here or Like us and ask on our Facebook page!

Sarah R. asked us what she can use on her lips to heal peeling and cracking. She says, “I deal with constant peeling and cracking lips. Super, super dry and it is hard to find something to soothe and heal them.”

Unfortunately for Sarah and many, many others, this is a very common issue. To discuss how to properly treat peeling and cracking lips, it’s important to discover the cause of one’s lip discomfort.

First, there’s garden-variety chapped lips that are caused by dry winter weather, high winds, constant lip-licking, and even eating very salty or spicy foods. This type of lip chapping is very uncomfortable, but is highly treatable.

Most people turn to a lip balm to comfort and heal mainstream lip chapping. While most lip balms will mask symptoms, very few of them actually heal the lips, and can even cause chapping to become worse depending on their active ingredients. If you choose to use a lip balm, be sure it’s formulated with natural oils and waxes, and doesn’t contain harsh chemicals. Beeswax, olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, and aloe are all great lip balm ingredients.

Aside from a lip balm, actually applying your daily skin care moisturizer to your lips can help heal and prevent chapping, peeling, and cracking. You don’t want to slather your moisturizer onto your lips; rather, rub the moisturizer into your hands and apply an even layer over the face, including the lips.

Using a dry skin moisturizer like our MLE products will actually work to moisturize the lips like the rest of the skin, thereby healing dryness and preventing future chapping.

Lastly, up your water intake! A lot of times, chapping is simply caused by dehydration. Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day will help, but keep one thing in mind — don’t douse your lips in water and let them air-dry. Drink through a straw until lips are healed, or dab lips with a tissue after drinking from a glass to remove excess moisture. Allowing the liquid to evaporate from your lips can make chapping much worse.

When it comes to rarer causes of dry, peeling lips, treatment will vary. If you suspect that your lip dryness is more serious than typical chapping, head to your doctor or dermatologist to discuss your symptoms. Here’s just a glimpse at some of the many surprising causes of chronically chapped lips:

  • Cosmetic ingredient sensitivities — common offenders include propyl gallate (found in lipstick), guaiazulene or sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate (found in toothpastes), phenyl salicylate/salol ( found in lip care products), cinnamates and cinnamon flavorings (found in candy, gum, mouthwash, and toothpaste), and even red dyes
  • Periodontal disease and/or tooth abscesses
  • Prescription medications (chronically dry lips are a common side effect)
  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids or sleep apnea may cause snoring, leading to chapped lips
  • Psoriasis 
  • Yeast infection
  • Photosensitivity, either alone or caused by lupus or another autoimmune disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Excess vitamin A in the system

These are just a few of the underlying causes of chronic lip chapping. Obviously, each requires its own form of treatment, and an accurate diagnosis can only be provided by your doctor or dermatologist. If you suspect any of these things to be the cause of your dry, peeling lips, consider if you’re able to minimize your exposure to the possible offender, and make an appointment with your doctor today!

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