It is very common to develop sore, chapped lips during the winter. When lips are exposed to cold air, and warm, dry air inside, the top layer of the skin called keratin can lose moisture, becoming less flexible, cracked and sore, and even scaly.
If you normally suffer from chapped lips, here are five ways to prevent them.
Avoid Licking Your Lips
People who have chapped lips will often repeatedly lick them, and this removes the top layer of skin that is an oily film normally protecting the lips by locking in moisture. Additionally, licking your lips deposits saliva on them, and saliva contains digestive enzymes that can irritate the lips, worsening the problem.
Use Good Quality Lip Balm
Choose a lip balm with a good emollient that can help lock in moisture and smooth the surface of your skin. Ingredients that work well include petroleum and lanolin, which will help your lips retain moisture. If you are outdoors and intend to be in the sun, use a lip balm with an SPF because lips can burn easily. Make sure you reapply your lip balm regularly and get into the habit of using lip balm just before bedtime. During cold and flu season, many of us will breathe through our mouth during sleep which can be extra drying for lips.
Consider Using Supplements
Some medications, especially isotretinoin for treating acne, can cause dry lips. If you take medications that can cause dry lips, consider using supplements like evening primrose oil or gamma linoleic acid, an oil found in plants. If you aren’t taking any medication but still suffer from dry lips, you could still try taking supplements. It’s unclear whether these will work well, but they may be worth trying.
Beware of Other Skincare Products
Take a look at other skincare products you currently use, as certain lip balms can contain menthol or camphor, creating a tingling sensation when you apply them, which is quite pleasant. However, they can irritate lips, so your lips become drier when you use these products. Certain skin products, particularly retinal, can irritate the lips, leading to them becoming dry and flaky. Some lipsticks can also be quite drying, so be aware of what you are currently using and if you suspect they may be causing dry lips, discontinue their use to see if it makes any difference.
Don’t Forget to Exfoliate Your Lips and Moisturise Them
Gently exfoliating your lips helps to remove flaky and dry skin so that when you moisturise, it can penetrate the lips more deeply. However, if you have a patch of skin that is flaky or sore and which is failing to heal, contact us for further help and advice or go and see your GP. The lips are a common location for skin cancer, especially as many of us forget to wear a good SPF lip balm, so it’s always worth investigating a suspicious sore spot just to be sure it is nothing serious.