Chapped lips can be both unsightly and uncomfortable. Often the more we try to remedy the problem of chapped lips, the more we aggravate the situation. Sometimes lips can become so chapped they crack and bleed. There are several factors that 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, lips may loose moisture due to dry wind and cold temperatures. In addition, indoor heat can cause a lack of indoor humidity which aggravates the situation. In the summer, an arid environment created by the sun and warmer temperatures can dry out lips. It is important to protect your lips from these environmental effects.
There are several oral habits which can contribute to chapped lips. Licking the lips is a common cause of chapped lips. 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, D.D.S., notes that allergies, nasal polyps, tonsil hypertrophy, deviated nasal septum, constricted upper airways are some of the causes of mouth breathing. Other oral habits that can create chapped lips include bottle drinking among babies and smoking .
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, the American Academy of Dermatology notes that your lips do not produce natural oils that could serve to protect them. Therefore they dry out and chafe easily. When you wash your face, especially the mouth area, both soap and the rubbing of the lips to wash and dry can cause chapping.
Medication and Disease
Dry lips may indicate an underlying problem, though this is rare, according to Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson. 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.