Dry, chapped lips are not only uncomfortable and unsightly, but they can also invite infection. Restoring the moisture and softness to chapped, peeling lips is a simple procedure with basic lip care:
- Apply a thin coating of petroleum jelly several times each day.
- At night, gently exfoliate chapped lips by rubbing them softly with a dry toothbrush or washcloth. If you prefer, you can make a paste of baking soda and water and apply to lips before exfoliating. Follow with a thick coating of petroleum jelly before going to bed. After just a few nights, you should see a marked improvement.
Since chapped, peeling lips can be painful, it is wise to take steps to protect them from becoming chapped in the first place. There are a number of steps you can take to minimize the chances of chapping.
- One of the most common causes is exposure to cold and wind. Try to develop a habit of applying lip balm before going outdoors, especially in inclement weather.
- Protect your lips from sun exposure. Be sure that your lip balm offers sufficient SPF protection to keep lips from getting sunburned and to prevent dryness.
- If you wear lipstick, apply a moisturizing balm under your lip color. Some people find that their lips are sensitive to ingredients in lipsticks, so providing a barrier layer will help keep lips soft without sacrificing beauty!
- Don't smoke. Smoking dries the skin, especially around the mouth, increasing the incidence of chapping and peeling.
- Stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can affect the moisture level of your lips and require you to use extra lip moisturizer.
- Consider the use of a humidifier in your home or office. Dry air contributes to dry skin.
- Eat a healthy diet. Dry, cracked lips can be a symptom of a riboflavin (vitamin B-2) deficiency. Foods rich in riboflavin include red meats, dairy products, green leafy vegetables and riboflavin-enriched breads and cereals.
- Change your toothpaste. Tartar-control toothpastes can cause irritation and peeling lips in people sensitive to them. If you have a recurrent problem with chapped lips and you use a tarter-control toothpaste, try switching to a regular toothpaste to see if there is an improvement.
- One night each week, give your lips a moisture-restoring treatment to have beautiful lips. Before retiring for the evening, exfoliate your lips as above, then apply a coating of one of the following moisturizers: petroleum jelly, cocoa butter, vitamin E oil or aloe vera gel. You may want to increase the treatments to several times a week in the winter months.
- Check with your doctor. Although chapped, peeling lips are seldom a cause for concern, they can, in rare instances, be a symptom of an underlying illness. If you suffer from recurring bouts of chapped lips, or they become more severe, it may signal a need for medical attention.
Once you've mastered how to treat chapped lips, the key to future problems is prevention. A remedy is always available, but why incur the pain of dryness and cracking in the first place if you can always have kissable lips?