By Marisa Ramiccio

The feeling of dry skin is bad, but the feeling of dry, chapped lips is even worse. It's a feeling that's hard to get rid of and it can drive you crazy. But what exactly causes chapped lips? Below is a list of the common causes of dry lips so you know what to avoid if you want to keep your lips plump and moisturized.

1. Licking Your Lips

When you're lips feel dry and chapped, you probably have a tendency to lick them. However, that's only a temporary fix. Soon after licking them, they feel dry again, so you lick them once more. This turns into a nasty habit, one that won't help to rehydrate your lips. Saliva evaporates very quickly and can leave your lips feeling even drier than they did before you licked them. Biting and chewing your lips can produce the same effect, so if you find yourself doing this often, try to kick the habit.

2. Dehydration

If you don't drink enough during the day, your lips surely will be chapped. Make sure that you drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, throughout the day.

3. Allergies

There are many allergies that can cause chapped lips including allergies to cobalt and nickel. If you take too many vitamin B12 supplements, you may develop an allergy to cobalt, which may lead to lips that are dry and appear crusty. If you're allergic to nickel, make sure you don't put any metal near your mouth, including paper clips. If you have or are planning to get a lip ring, make sure it doesn't contain nickel.

Ingredients in lipstick and toothpaste may also be to blame for your chapped lips. If your toothpaste contains guaiazulene, or if your lipstick contains propyl gallate or phenyl salicylate (salol), your chapped lips may actually be an allergic reaction to these ingredients. It would be best to stop using these products and find others that don't contain these ingredients. Allergies to foods or food ingredients, such as figs or red food dyes, may also cause chapped lips.

4. Not Protecting Them

If you don't protect your lips from the elements, they're bound to get chapped quickly. Always wear lip balm on your lips, whatever the weather. Look for a lip balm that has sunblock in it for extra protection, or just put a bit of sunblock on your lips before you leave the house. Keeping your lips moisturized throughout the day will help to keep them from drying out.

5. Breathing Through Your Mouth

Having air constantly pass over your lips will certainly dry them out. People who snore or have sleep apnea have this problem and frequently wake up with chapped lips. Also, if you have a cold and can't breathe through your nose, you're more likely to develop chapped lips as well. In each of these situations, it's best to keep your lips moisturized throughout the day, especially before going to bed.

6. Toothpaste

Ever notice how after your brush your teeth your lips feel dry and chapped? Many toothpastes contain the ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate, which is know for drying out skin and even causing skin irritation. In some cases, it can even cause perioral dermatitis, which is dermatitis of the lips and mouth. If your toothpaste is causing a problem for you, stop using it and look for a toothpaste that does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate.

7. Dry Cold Or Heat

Of course, cold weather is a common culprit of cracked and chapped lips. If you're going outside on a chilly day, lather on the lip balm and wear a scarf around your mouth to protect your lips. Conversely, if you're stuck inside with the heat cranked up, this can also dry your lips out just as quickly as if you were outside in the cold.

8. Citrus Fruits

The acid in citrus fruits can irritate the lips and some citrus may cause your lips to become sensitive to the sun, which can cause chapped lips. Before taking a bite out of that juicy orange, smother your lips in lip balm to protect them while you're eating.

Cinnamates, which are used in candy, gum and toothpaste, among other things, can also have the same effect.

9. Too Much Vitamin A

If you're consuming too much vitamin A or are taking too many supplements, this may be causing your chapped lips. If you take more than 25,000 IU of vitamin A per day, you're consuming too much of this vitamin.

10. Certain Conditions or Medications

Certain prescription medications, like Accutane, propranolol, or prochlorperazine, can cause chapped lips. Autoimmune diseases may cause your lips to become sensitive to the sun and therefore, cause chapped lips, so if you have an autoimmune disease, wear a lip balm with SPF 15. A thyroid disease or psoriosis can also cause dryness of the lips. Perleche, a yeast infection, can cause dryness around the mouth as can diabetes. Those with Down's syndrome commonly have dry, chapped lips as do those with actinic chelitis, which is caused from too much sun exposure.


Mayo Clinic

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