ZocdocAnswersWhat more can I do to help my chapped lips?

Question

What more can I do to help my chapped lips?

I put chap stick on my lips but it doesn't seem to do enough to keep my lips from getting dried out and cracked. What else can I do to help with my chapped lips?

Answer

Chapped lips are a common and stubborn problem, especially during winter months. Chapped lips typically occur when the protective oils on the surface of the lips gets stripped off, exposing them to cold and dry air temperatures, leading to redness, itching, burning, and cracking. You have already identified the most important step in treating and preventing chapped lips, which is applying a good chapstick several times a day. However, another feature of chapped lips that is common is that the burning and itching causes you to pick at your lips or lick them frequently. The constant manipulation and repeated wetting and dry sets up a vicious cycle of chronic irritation that prevents the chapping from healing up. Therefore, in addition to using a chapstick, you have to try to avoid touching or licking your lips also. If these strategies don't work, then you should see your primary care doctor for additional advice. Sometimes there is another medical condition masquerading as chapped lips. For example, if the burning and cracking is mostly located at the corners of your mouth, then this may be a condition called angular cheilitis, which is often due either to a nutritional deficiency or to a fungal infection.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.