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What Are the Treatments for Severe Chapped Lips?

author image Erin Monahan
Erin Monahan is an author and editor with over 25 years experience. She has written on a variety of topics including celebrity interviews, health reporting and parenting. Her work has appeared in daily newspapers and national magazines, including "Wondertime," and on websites such as She was recently named one of the top writers in Pennsylvania. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Simmons College.
What Are the Treatments for Severe Chapped Lips?
Lipstick is one strategy to keep your lips supple.

Chapped lips are more than just annoying, they can be downright dangerous. The tiny cracks and fissures in the lips can harbor bacteria and cause infection. Once you've cured your chapped lips, prevent a recurrence by continuing to apply lip balm three or four times a day and upping your intake of B-vitamins, which, according to dermatologist Nelson Lee Novick can keep lips smooth. You may also want to look into allergic reactions as some people develop allergies to ingredients in toothpaste or the dyes in lipstick. If your lips are healed and then you have another bout of severe chapped lips, or if you have trouble healing them, look into allergies.

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Topical Antibacterials

Apply a topical antibacterial preparation, such as Neosporin or Bacitracin, to your lips. Both of these medications are in a balm or petroleum base, and will add moisture to your lips as well as treat any bacteria that may be lurking. These preparations do not taste pleasant, and will also keep you from licking your lips, which you should avoid when they are chapped.


Rodney Basler, MD, suggests using the over-the-counter preparation Carmex to treat severely chapped lips in an article in "The Doctors Book of Home Remedies." He says the over-the-counter lip treatment is as good as any prescription drug for the condition. Any topical preparation you use should both moisturize and seal moisture into the lips, as most gels and ointments do.

Hydrocortisone Ointment

Apply prescription-strength 2.5 percent hydrocortisone ointment three or four times per day for resistant chapped lips, advises dermatologist Audrey Kunin, MD, for DermaDoctor. The preparation doesn't taste good, but can be effective in the short term. If that doesn't solve the problem, she recommends asking your doctor for a stronger concentration that can be used for a short time on treatment-resistant chapped lips.

Rosen's Ointment

A pharmacist can mix up Rosen's ointment, a combination of zinc oxide, aluminum acetate and Aquaphor. The Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies recommends it as a good treatment but says it's often rejected because of its white color. Use it at night if you don't like the color.


Try upping your B-complex vitamins if you're prone to chapped lips, but if you're having an outbreak, slit open a capsule of Vitamin E and apply to your lips. The vitamin should help cure the chapping and, according to an article at will also protect your lips from further drying by the sun and UV sun damage.

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