Treating Chapped Lips


beautiful lips

Cold, dry weather, sun damage, and frequently licking your lips are just some of the reasons your lips might feel dry and chapped. You can get chapped lips all year long. Although a lot of people get chapped lips more often in the winter or summer. Follow these tips for treating chapped lips all year long.

Use non-irritating lip balm – if it burns, that is not a good thing: Many people mistake discomfort, such as burning, stinging, or tingling, as a sign that the active ingredients in a product are working. That’s not what’s happening. You’re actually irritating your lips, so you want to stop using any product that irritates your lips.

Ingredients to avoid when treating chapped lips: 



Flavoring: Cinnamon, citrus, mint, and peppermint flavors can be especially irritating to dry, chapped lips




Octinoxate or oxybenzone

Phenol (or phenyl)

Propyl gallate

Salicylic acid

Ingredients that can help when treating chapped lips: While some ingredients can irritate dry, cracked lips, others can help them heal. When looking for products to use on your chapped lips, dermatologists recommend ones that contain one or more of the following:

Treating chapped lips

Castor seed oil


Hemp seed oil

Mineral oil


Shea butter

Sun-protective ingredients, such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide

White petroleum jelly

Look for products that are fragrance free and hypoallergenic.

Treating chapped lips

Apply a non-irritating lip balm (or lip moisturizer) several times a day and before bed. If your lips are very dry and cracked, try a thick ointment, such as white petroleum jelly. Ointment seals in water longer than waxes or oils. Dr. Dan’s is excellent!

Slather on a non-irritating lip balm with SPF 30 or higher before going outdoors. Even in the winter, it’s important to protect your lips from the sun. The sun can burn dry, chapped lips more easily, which could trigger cold sores. EltaMD makes a great lip balm with SPF. To protect dry, chapped lips from the sun, use lip balm that contains offers SPF 30 or higher and one (or both) of these sun-protective ingredients: Titanium oxide or Zinc oxide. While outdoors, apply the lip balm every 2 hours.

Drink plenty of water. Chapped lips are dry lips, so you want to stay hydrated.

Treating chapped lips

Stop licking, biting, and picking at your lips. When lips feel dry, it may feel natural to wet them by licking them, but this can worsen the problem. As saliva evaporates, your lips become drier. Picking or biting your lips also irritates them, which can prevent healing. Lip licking can be a hard habit to break. When you catch yourself licking your lips, try applying a non-irritating lip balm instead.

Avoid holding items made of metal with your lips. Paperclips, jewelry, and other everyday products made of metal can irritate your already sensitive lips.

Plug in a humidifier at home. A humidifier in your bedroom can be especially helpful, especially if you breathe through your mouth at night.

By following these dermatologists’ tips for chapped lips, you should have noticeable improvement in 2 to 3 weeks. To prevent your lips from chapping again, continue applying lip balm whenever it’s dry indoors or outside.

When to see a dermatologist?

Most of the time, the above self-care can heal dry, chapped lips in 2 to 3 weeks. If it doesn’t, see a board-certified dermatologist.

Your chapped lips could be caused by something aside from dry weather. An allergic reaction, yeast infection, or something more serious can make your lips feel dry and uncomfortable. Actinic cheilitis is a precancerous condition that turns one or both lips dry and scaly. A board-certified dermatologist can diagnose the cause.

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