Remedies to Cure Chapped, Crached & Dry Lips
Chapped & dry lips are one of the few flaws in our otherwise almost-perfect design: Our lips, so exposed to sun, wind, and other irritants, don’t have oil glands to keep them soft and moist. Nor do they contain much melanin, the pigment in our skin that turns us tan and offers some protection from the sun. It’s no wonder that lips can get as parched and cracked as old shoe leather. If you want to keep them kissable, give them some protection.
Your lips are dry, irritated, and cracked. They may be painful or they may itch. Dry spells can be triggered by sunburn, winter weather, allergic reactions, fever, or simply licking your lips too often.
Bring Out the Balms
- Dairy farmers use Bag Balm to keep their cows’ udders soft and comfortable. Humans have found that this product, formulated with lanolin and petrolatum, (the stuff in petroleum jelly) soothes a chapped kisser. You can find it in drugstores or order it on the Internet
- Another all-natural salve is Burt’s Beeswax Lip Balm, which contains beeswax, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, lanolin, vitamin E, peppermint oil, and comfrey extract.
- Some people swear by Cloverine salve to relieve chapped lips. (It also works on chapped hands.) You can order it from GA Labs at www.galabs.com.
- When you’re alone in the house, olive oil or Crisco will help to soften and moisturize chapped lips quite nicely. In fact, any vegetable shortening will do.
- If you have vitamin E capsules on hand, puncture one and apply the oil to your lips.
- Petroleum jelly is a tried-and-true chapped-lips remedy. For the healing power of petroleum jelly with more staying power, try Aquaphor, a heavy cream available in the drugstore’s skin-care section. It tends to stay on longer than petroleum jelly. Like Bag Balm, it contains lanolin.
Moisturize from the Inside Out
If your lips are continually chapped, drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day—more, if you can. While this won’t prevent dryness, it will keep it from getting worse.
The Power of Prevention
- Apply a balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 before you go out into the sun. Lips need just as much sun protection as the rest of your skin. (Off-limits . . . if your lips turn red and itchy. Some people have an allergic reaction to lip balms that contain sunscreen.)
- A dark, creamy lipstick helps protect lips from the sun and keep moisture in.
- When indoor air is very dry, prevent chapped lips by running a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep.
- Try eating more foods that are rich in vitamin B, such as whole grains, nuts, and green vegetables. Lack of B vitamins contributes to chapped lips in some people.
- Avoid licking your lips. Your saliva may momentarily provide a coating of moisture, but it evaporates quickly, leaving lips drier than before. And the saliva contains digestive enzymes that dry out tissue.
- Stay away from balms that contain phenol or camphor. They’re very strong antiseptics that induce a major lip drought.
- Don’t give a child lip balms with exotic flavors. Kids tend to eat the flavored varieties right off their lips, which further aggravates the chapping.
Go After the Yeast
If the corners of your mouth are painfully cracked and chapped, you may have a yeast overgrowth. To help clear the yeast, use over-the-counter antifungal cream, such as clotrimazole, which can be found in supermarkets. It’s usually sold with feminine-hygiene or foot-care products. Apply it twice a day. If you wear dentures and have this condition, be sure you clean your dentures thoroughly and frequently. Yeast can grow on them and spread by contact to your lips.
Should I call the doctor?
Usually, a little TLC takes care of chapped lips. But if they remain chapped after you’ve babied them for two or three weeks, it’s time to make a call to the dermatologist. Don’t panic, but lips that are persistently red, dry, or scaly can suggest a precancerous condition. Also make a call if your lips are often cracked; you may have a yeast infection. An allergic sensitivity to ingredients in toothpaste, lipstick, or lip balms can also cause dry lips.
photo credit: Francesca Cappa Portrait via photopin (license)