I seem to have chapped lips all winter. Is there anything I can do to prevent or treat chapped lips?
Answers from Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.
Most people get chapped lips from time to time. There's much you can do to treat — and prevent — chapped lips. Consider these tips:
- Protect your lips. Before going out in cold, dry weather, apply a lubricating lip cream or balm that contains sunscreen — and then cover your lips with a scarf. Reapply often while outdoors.
- Avoid licking your lips. Saliva evaporates quickly, leaving lips drier than before you licked them. If you tend to lick your lips, avoid flavored lip balm — which may tempt you to lick your lips even more.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, and moisten the air in your home with a humidifier.
- Avoid allergens. Avoid contact with irritants or allergens, such as fragrances or dyes, in cosmetics or skin care products.
- Breathe through your nose. Breathing through your mouth can cause your lips to dry out.
If chapping is severe and doesn't respond to treatment at home, consult your doctor. Rarely, persistent chapped lips may indicate an underlying problem.
May 21, 2016
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Cold injuries. In: Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed March 9, 2016.
- Dry skin relief. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/skin-care/dry-skin-relief. Accessed March 9, 2016.
- Dry skin: Tips for managing. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/dry-sweaty-skin/dry-skin. Accessed March 9, 2016.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 17, 2016.