Severely chapped lips can be uncomfortable, painful and unsightly. Chapped lips may look swollen, red, cracked and lead to bleeding. There are several reasons why you may suffer from chapped lips. Chapped lips are rarely cause for concern, but they sometimes may indicate a more severe underlying condition, such as dehydration.
A common cause of severely chapped lips is dehydration. If you are not drinking an adequate amount of water or fluids each day, your skin tends to dry out and become flaky and uncomfortable. Dehydration removes moisture from the skin, especially in the lips. Alcohol consumption causes dehydration, so if chapped lips are a problem for you, it may be best to limit the amount of alcohol you drink to help stay hydrated. Medical experts recommend that you drink approximately 64 ounces of water each day to prevent dehydration.
Licking Your Lips
You may also suffer from chapped lips due to overlicking. According to Mayo Clinic, when you lick your lips, saliva evaporates quickly and leaves your lips drier than before you licked them. Saliva may soothe the lips momentarily, but it contains an enzyme necessary for digestion that can further irritate your lips. Instead of licking your lips, try using lip balm to moisturize and prevent further chapping.
UVA and UVB rays from the sun can damage your skin if it is exposed to sunlight without some form of protection. Heat from the sun can dry out the sensitive skin on your lips, thereby causing them to become chapped and flaky. Use sunscreen on your lips to block these damaging rays. Extremely cold or windy conditions can also cause chapping; therefore, it is advisable to wear lip balm before exposing yourself to harsh weather conditions.
According to the Institute for Integrated Healthcare Studies, chapped lips may be caused by a possible vitamin deficiency since certain nutrients are needed for cellular hydration. Mouth breathing causes air to circulate around the mouth, which leads to drying of the lips, so it is advisable to breath through your nose. Medications may also have side effects that cause dehydration resulting in chapped lips. Lastly, it may be possible that certain cosmetic products like lipsticks may be irritating the skin, causing dryness.
The National Institutes of Health recommend that you drink additional fluids during winter months to prevent dehydration and dry skin. Keeping the air in your home humid also helps relieve flaky and chapped lips. If you are suffering from chapped lips, beeswax or petroleum jelly may help soothe your skin. If chapping is causing severe pain or discomfort, consult your doctor to determine the best treatment for you.