How to Care for Your Lips
The Causes, Prevention, and Treatment of Dry, Chapped Lips
Dry, chapped lips are never fun, but most people experience them from time to time. While the most common experience is a mild irritation or dryness, chapped lips that are left uncared for can cause more serious problems, such as open sores and painful infections.
What Causes Chapped Lips
Chapped lips are the result of many different causes. Exposure to sun, wind, cold, and dry air causes lips to dehydrate and flake. Additional factors that lead to chapped lips are reactions to cosmetic ingredients, repetitive licking of the lips, certain medications, and even overall dehydration of the body.
Preventing Chapped Lips
There are just as many ways to prevent chapped lips as there are causes of them. One of the simplest ways to ease dry lips is by using a lip balm regularly. Purchase lip balms that have a high content of natural oils and beeswax for the most hydrating results. Petroleum-based lip balms are also good, but natural oils, such as almond, apricot or jojoba, are best. Lip balms with sunscreen provide an added benefit of protection. Apply the lip balm when lips feel dry, and at least five minutes before heading outdoors. Some lipstick and lip gloss products are overly drying and are not recommended as a substitution for a good lip balm.
Avoid licking your lips. While it may feel like you are providing temporary relief, the saliva evaporates quickly, leaving your lips even more dry than before they were licked. For this reason, you should try to use a lip balm that is not flavored, as it tempts you to lick your lips more often.
During times when the air in your home is dry, make sure you are drinking more fluids, and consider using a humidifier in the bedroom at night. People who tend to breath through their mouths, another factor in creating chapped lips, will find that this relieves some of the dryness the next day.
Treating Chapped Lips
In addition to using a lip balm on a regular basis, simply exfoliating the lips can provide instant relief and results. If your chapped lips are persistent, or are causing significant pain, it is best to see a doctor or dermatologist. Several cosmetic companies offer gentle lip scrubs, but a simple and inexpensive alternative can be made right at home.
Here is one home remedy for dry or chapped lips which can be used up to three times per week:
1. Apply a thick layer of a good lip balm or petroleum product, such as Vaseline, to the entire lip area.
2. Using an old toothbrush, preferably with soft bristles, gently massage the lip area , alternating light circular motions with back and forth strokes.
3. Remove excess product with a dry tissue or a slightly warm, damp washcloth. The flaky and dry skin should be mostly removed.
4. Finish by applying a layer of lip balm to protect the skin and keep the lips hydrated.
© Annalise Kaylor