Cure Chapped Lips in 3 Quick and Easy Steps
Whether you plan to hit the slopes or just want smooth, soft lips, read on. Cheilitis—doctor-speak for dry, chapped lips—is common during the cold season, but it's easy to treat. We turned to Lori Brightman, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City, for advice on curing uncomfortable chapped lips.
Because the skin on your lips is thinner and more delicate than other areas of your body, it's more vulnerable to the elements. Both the stratum corneum (the outermost layer) and the lipid layer (the thin film of oil that coats the stratum corneum) contain humectants (this healthy food is also a humectant that helps you get healthy hair and clear skin), molecules that draw moisture from the air into the skin. But in dry conditions, moisture evaporates more quickly, leaving you with dehydrated, dry lips.
Top Chapped Lips Triggers
1. Very dry air. Come winter, humidity levels drop, inviting chapped lips. Try using a humidistat device to monitor moisture in your home. If you get a reading below 45, switch on a humidifier in your room at night to make the air—and your skin—dewier.
2. Certain medications. Some oral prescriptions for acne, high blood pressure, and nausea can cause dry, chapped lips.
3. Chronic lip licking. Enzymes in your saliva can irritate your skin over time and lead to cracked lips.
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Top Soft Lips Solutions
1. Cover up! Lock in moisture and nix chapped lips with an unflavored, non-medicated lip balm. We love Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($5; at drugstores), which contains panthenol and lanolin. Heading outdoors? Choose one with sunblock, like ChapStick Moisturizer SPF 15 ($2; at drugstores).
2. Try a new toothpaste. Synthetic flavors can cause an allergic reaction that causes peeling. A natural paste, like Tom's of Maine Maximum Strength Sensitive Toothpaste ($5; tomsofmaine.com) is a good alternative.
3. Avoid citrus. Until your dry, chapped lips are healed, don't eat acidic fruits; the juice can sting and lead to more flaking.
MORE: 10 oral hygiene habits to break (and secrets to whiter teeth)
If That Doesn't Work…
If you still have chapped lips, or if the corners of your mouth are constantly cracked, see your doctor. “You could have a type of yeast infection that's caused by the saliva that pools when you sleep with your mouth open,” says dermatologist Lori Brightman, M.D. Either way, your lips will get soft again if you treat them right.
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More Lip Treatments and Chapped Lip Solutions:
&bull4 Steps to Beautiful Lips
•5 Common Mouth Problems and Solutions
•6 Lipstick Tips for Luscious Lips