are your lips dryWinter can be one of the hardest parts of living in the Midwest. The cold temperatures and wind make staying warm a challenge. It is helpful to bundle up, but we generally don’t cover our faces. This can leave our lips chapped, cracked, or even bleeding. 

Since the lips have some of the highest concentrations of receptor cells in the body, it can be especially painful. Many people are drawn to chapstick to relieve the discomfort, while others prefer to avoid using lip balm.

When we understand and address the underlying factors, we can often resolve the issue with some simple changes. Most cases can be handled inexpensively at home without any medical care. 

Let’s look at the factors that contribute to dry lips and what we can do about it.



It is pretty clear that chapped lips are a result of not having enough moisture, but why are lips so vulnerable? Dermatologist Ife Rodney explains that “because of the quick turnover of skin cells on the lips, you’re more prone to dryness if you aren’t properly hydrated.”

It makes sense that staying hydrated would have a major impact, but it can be difficult to stay hydrated just by drinking enough water. Getting enough minerals with your water is crucial to keeping your body fully hydrated. It is one of the reasons that I rarely drink plain water.

If you need to work on your hydration, check out the following blogs...



A dry environment can contribute to chapped lips. Using a humidifier can help provide moisture in the air to combat this problem, but it is important to do it in a way that doesn’t cause other problems.

Cool mist humidifiers safely provide moisture in your air provided you follow the manufacturer’s directions. It is important to use fresh water, wipe up any spills, and clean the humidifier regularly to prevent any bacteria or mold growth.

It is also crucial to make sure the humidity in the air stays between 30-50%. Mold can begin growing in the environment if it gets above these levels and presents a significant risk to your health.

If you need a good humidifier, check out the following options…


Lip Balm

According to dermatologist Dr. Rogers a lot of lip care products contain irritating ingredients. She explains that “while they may temporarily soothe your lips, they can ultimately cause so much irritation and dryness that it creates the need to reapply the lip balm frequently.”

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends avoiding ingredients such as fragrances, flavorings, salicylic acid, and lanolin as they exacerbate dryness. Instead, choose ones that contain ceramides, hemp seed oil, dimethicone, mineral oil, and shea butter.

The key, according to dermatologist Dr. Awan, is to get lip balm that attracts and seals in moisture. He encourages people to avoid lip care products that contain ingredients that give a cooling or tingling effect such as peppermint, camphor, and menthol. These irritants likely explain why people get addicted to it.

If you want to try a very different type of lip balm, check out the link below. Instead of the typical fruity flavor, it tastes more like a pot roast!


Other Factors

In addition to lip balm, anything that comes in direct contact with your lips can impact their moisture. It’s easy to believe that spicy and salty foods tend to have a drying effect, but did you know your saliva can irritate them too? 


According to Awan, “licking your lips, which you’re likely to do when they’re dry, can worsen the problem because the digestive enzymes in saliva can cause irritation."

If you address the issues discussed above, you should be able to clear your chapped lips in a few weeks. If not, it may be time to see a dermatologist. In rare cases, there may be an underlying condition. The dermatologist will look at your situation specifically and help you figure out your next steps.



Let me know what you do to avoid or treat chapped lips. Are there any products that you have found especially helpful?

Dr. Jamie

For more information check out the following articles.

12 Reasons You Have Chapped Lips (

Your Lip Balm May Be Making It Worse (

Are lips the most sensitive part of the body? (HowStuffWorks)


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