Chapped lips are a common problem that affects everyone, regardless of age and sex. It is usually more frequent during winter days, when the weather is harsh, but it is also common in summertime, due to prolonged exposure to sunlight. This is not a dangerous or a serious problem, but it makes the lips look unappealing and it can be painful.
Causes of chapped lips
Chapped lips are often associated with a condition called angular cheilitis, angular stomatitis or perleche. It usually starts with dry and chapped lips and then progresses, causing deep cracks or splits at the corners of the mouth. It is believed that angular cheilitis is caused by microorganisms, either bacteria or fungus.
If the lips are only dry, flaky, prone to bleeding and covered with dead skin cells, the cause is most likely a factor from the environment or nutrition, that is causing excessive dryness. These can include cold weather, wind, exposure to sunlight, but also deficiency of certain nutrients and dehydration. Biting or constantly licking the lips can also cause chapped lips.
Treatment for chapped lips
In case of severe chapped lips and angular cheilitis, the treatment should focus on elimination of the presence of microorganisms in the skin. Depending on the cause, the treatment can consist of antibacterial or antifungal medications, usually in the form of topical ointments and creams. Some doctors recommend mild steroidal creams and ointments containing zinc.
In case the lips are chapped because of the weather or a similar factor, the lips can be repaired using simple home remedies or cosmetic products available in every drugstore.
Lip balms are the best remedy for the lips that are dry and prone to cracking. Ideally, the lip balm should contain as little preservatives and artificial colors and perfumes, and more natural ingredients, such as vitamin E, olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil and similar.
Petroleum jelly is another great remedy for this problem. It protects and nourishes the skin and it does not contain any potentially harmful ingredients.
Pure ghee, butter or milk cream can also be applied to chapped lips, ideally before going to bed.
Aloe vera gel does wonders for many different skin ailments, and chapped lips are one of them. Fresh aloe vera juice can also be used for this purpose.
Honey is another remedy that has many beneficial properties for the skin. It softens and nourishes it and it also prevents infections, which is important because chapped lips often break and make way for the bacteria and other organisms to thrive.
After soothing and nourishing the lips, it is also recommended to exfoliate, in order to remove the dead skin cells. This can be done very simply, using a clean cotton towel, or with corn or gram flour mixed with some water.