Chapped lips can be both unsightly and uncomfortable. Often the more we try to remedy the problem, the more we aggravate the situation. Sometimes lips can become so chapped they crack and bleed. Several factors can cause lip irritation and drying. Becoming familiar with these factors can set you on the path to preventing lip chafing.
Climate extremes can cause lip chapping. In the winter, dry wind and cold temperatures can cause lips to lose their moisture. Indoor heat can cause a lack humidity, which aggravates the situation. In the summer, an arid environment can dry out lips. It is important to protect your lips.
Several oral habits can contribute to chapped lips. Licking the lips is a common cause. This can become a vicious cycle, as the drier the lips feel, the more inclined a person may be to lick them. Some people have conditions that lead to breathing through an open mouth. Dentist Joseph Sarkissian of Glendale, Calif., notes that allergies, nasal polyps, tonsil hypertrophy, deviated nasal septum and constricted upper airways are some of the causes of mouth breathing. Smoking can also cause chapped lips.
Vitamin deficiencies are often first noted in the mouth, according to Dr. Riva Touger-Decker of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She reports that vitamins B6, niacin, riboflavin and iron have been linked to a condition called cheilosis, or dry scaling of the lips.
Unlike other skin on your body, your lips do not produce natural oils that could protect them, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Therefore they dry out and chafe easily. When you wash your face, especially the mouth area, both soap and the rubbing of the lips can cause chapping.
Medication and Disease
Dry lips may indicate an underlying problem, though this is rare, according to Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson of the Mayo Clinic. Some diseases have been known to have a drying effect on the skin, including the lips. Some medications can also contribute to lip chapping. Talk to your doctor if you have a chronic problem of chapped or dry lips.