About Dry Lips

What are Dry, Chapped and Cracked Lips?
Our lips have a layer of “stratum corneum” which is remarkably thin and transparent due to this form a thin covering over the blood vessels. The reddish color of our lips is due to the blood running in the blood vessels and the transparent layer of skin which allows the color to come through vividly. Lips have no sebaceous glands (sweat glands) and therefore the loss of water on the lips is five to ten times more than other parts having these types of glands. Due to this and extreme weather conditions like acrid, sun, cold weather, strong winds or dry air our lips become tight, dry and chapped ultimately. Chapped lips also known as cracked lips is the term used to describe dry lips.

Very effective lip gloss for extremely chapped lips.

Chapped lips is a condition that is very common and can easily be handled by adopting little measures but it may sometime develop into a more severe type of chapped lips known as cheilitis.


Cheilitis is an infectious form or inflammation which is characterized by cracked lip skin especially at the corners as well as several cracks on entire lips. This usually happens with dirt, fungus or bacteria have entered the cracks in the skin of your lips. Other common causes of cheilitis are excessive production of saliva and dental trauma. Cheilitis can be characterized by the following conditions:

  • Dark red or pink lips
  • Sores on the lips
  • Lumpy texture
  • White plaque

Symptoms of Chapped lips

The most common symptoms associated with chapped lips include:

  • Lip dryness
  • Lip cracks
  • Lip scales
  • Lip flaking
  • Lip swelling
  • Lip sores
  • Lip bleeding

Causes of dry Chapped lips

The main cause of dry lips or chapped lips is the absence of sebaceous glands due to this lips are deprived of moisture and becoming chapped due to small changes in climate or due to sun effects or due to lack of self-care. Another important cause of dry lips is the lack of moisture or humidity in the air during winter season. Recurrent sun exposure in the summer season can also cause chapped lips and worsen the condition. Habitual licking is another cause of dry lips. Licking restore the moisture of the lips for a short period but during this period it also eats and destroy the thin cutaneous layer and lips become more dry and chapped. There are some other factors that can cause the chapped lips but are less common.

  • Vitamin B6 or Niacin deficiency
  • Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin deficiency
  • Excessive intake of Vitamin A
  • Yeast infection
  • Isotretinoin used in acne condition
  • Long-wearing lip paints or matte lipsticks
  • Irritants like menthol, ginger, capsicum or mint oils

When to seek medical attention?

  1. Cheilitis:

There is no need of medical attention in case of normal cracking or dryness but severe case of dryness and cracking or cheilitis that doesn’t improve with self-care measures need medical attention and proper treatment at proper time. This condition is reversible and need simple treatment and preventive measures. A dermatologist can determine whether your dry lips are simply chapped or if you have cheilitis.

  1. Dehydration:

Lips become dry in case of dehydration. Dehydration can be characterized by headache, decrease urination, constipation and dry mouth. In severe cases there is a chance of fever, hypotension, rapid heartbeat and breathing. There is need of medical attention in such case.

  1. Malnutrition:

Malnutrition can also cause dry lips or chapped lips due to deficiency of the essential nutrients like vitamin B6 and B2. Malnutrition can cause same symptoms as dehydration, but can also cause decaying teeth, muscle weakness, bone fragility and stomachic. In this situation, there is a need of enough vitamins intake in the form of fruits and vegetables or see your doctors.

Treatment of Dry lips / Chapped lips

There is no need of medical attention in case of chapped lips and can easily be treated at home by the following ways:

  1. Maintain ample amounts of moisture by drinking 8-10 glass of water per day, by the use of humidifier in the home, applying lip balm.
  2. Avoid licking in case of chapped lips
  3. Applying the ointment on your lips after the removal of dead skin for the exposure of fresh skin and to increase the process of healing. Dead skin can be removed by applying the scrub of salt or sugar on your lips in a circular manner
  4. Apply ointment or lip balm on your lips but avoid using of ointment or lip balm that contain camphor or petroleum jelly like ingredients that inhibits the process of healing. Try to use the lip balm that contains the almond oil, coconut butter and bees wax or other natural moisturizers or vitamin E or glycerin-based ointment.
  5. Use of natural oils on lips maintain the moisture level and protect them from further damage. Anyone can use the following oils in case of dry lips or chapped lips:
  • Olive oil
  • Almond oil
  • Cocoa or shea butter
  • Jojoba oil
  • Coconut oil
  1. Protect your lips from dry environment and from sun exposure. Emollient lip balms or lip gloss or lipsticks containing zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and avobenzone have the capacity to protect the lips from harmful UV rays of sun. For example simply using a good lip gloss can help protect and restore dry sunburnt lips.
  2. Determine the deficiency of vitamins which are necessary for the maintenance of healthy lips like vitamin A, B2, B6 and E. Use fresh vegetables and fruits in case of vitamin deficiency.

In case of severe cases like in cheilitis there is a need of medical attention. The most commonly used medicines in case of cheilitis are antifungal and antibiotics creams to avoid infection or kill or stop the growth of infection causing pathogens. Anti-inflammatory agents like corticosteroids are also used to avoid inflammation and pain.

Risk factors for Chapped lips

Chapped lips are not related with the ages and genders and it can occur at any stage of life and equally distributed among males and females. Dehydration and malnutrition are among the most important risk factors. There are some medications available that increase the risk of chapped lips and these include:

  • Retinoids (used in acne)
  • Prochlorperazine (used in vertigo)
  • Propranolol (used in high blood pressure)
  • Chemotherapy drugs (used mostly in cancer therapy)
  • Vitamin A (used in vision problems)
  • Lithium (Not commonly used)