Chapped lips occur when the skin on the lips becomes very dry. The lips may hurt, crack, and even bleed in severe cases. According to the Mayo Clinic, exposure to sun, wind, and cold, dry air can cause chapped lips. Other causes include breathing with your mouth open, frequently licking your lips, sensitivity to skin-care products, and dehydration. You can heal chapped lips quickly, usually in less than a week, by moisturizing your lips and protecting them from additional dryness.
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Use an oil-based lubricant, such as beeswax or petrolatum, on your lips to help heal them quickly. Oil-based lip balms will also protect your lips from further chapping caused by cold weather and wind.
Prevent lip licking by avoiding flavored lips balms. While licking your lips may offer temporary relief from pain and dryness, it actually makes chapped lips worse over time.
Increase your fluid intake. The UAB Health System recommends drinking at least six to eight glasses of water each day.
Do not eat salty and spicy foods while you are treating your chapped lips. Eating these foods can increase inflammation and delay recovery.
Run a humidifier inside your home during drier months. According to Alan Greene M.D., FAAP, increasing the moisture level in your home can help prevent and treat chapped lips.
Apply a prescription-strength hydrocortisone ointment to your chapped lips to heal them quickly. DERMAdoctor recommends applying the ointment three to four times each day.
Use an antibiotic ointment on your lips if they are very chapped or cracked. Cracks are prone to bacterial infections.
Try changing your toothpaste, lipstick or diet. Certain ingredients in these products, such as the guaiazulene and sodium lauryl sulfate contained in some toothpaste, may cause chapped lips or reduce the effectiveness of other treatments.
Visit your doctor to determine if an underlying medical condition is to blame for your chapped lips. Certain disorders, including vitamin deficiencies, thyroid disorders, fungal infections, and autoimmune disorders can cause chapped lips or prevent healing.