Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do lips peel?"
Every once in a while, my lips will start peeling pretty heavily. I don't use lip balms because I heard they just make the problem worse over time. Am I doing something wrong? Why is this happening?
Although it may not seem like a big deal to those who don't suffer from it, lip peeling can be a frustrating a painful condition. The vast majority of cases where patients complain of lip peeling, no official diagnosis is made. The use of a good emollient (moisturizer) is all that is needed in most cases. However, there are more serious conditions (albeit rare) that have lip peeling as a sign. It would be best to present the problem to your primary care physician so that he or she can rule out any of those conditions and refer you to a dermatologist if necessary. Cracked lips are usually just a sign of dry skin. However, if you lips are usually cracked at the angle of your mouth, it is known as angular cheilitis. This can be caused by malnutrition or vitamin deficiencies. In the United States that usually means that the patient needs a workup for a gastrointestinal illness. If your lips only get cracked in the middle and only intermittently, then most likely you can manage it with emollients. Lip moisturizers (if only used when needed) in general don't make the condition worse over time. If you feel your condition is worsening, there are steroid and other medicated creams at a dermatologists disposal which can treat the condition more aggressively. Good luck.
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