Did you know your lips don’t have sweat glands or sebaceous glands? These glands are normally responsible for producing a hydrolipidic film that covers the surface of your skin to protect it and keep it hydrated. Because your lips don’t sweat or produce any oils, they don’t have this protective lipid barrier, and therefore are highly susceptible to becoming dry.

10 Common Causes of Chapped Lips

  1. Dehydration
    Unlike other skin surfaces, which have a protective film that prevents moisture loss, your lips don't have a way to seal in and preserve that moisture. So when you become dehydrated, the most noticeable sign is dry lips (dry mouth and eyes are also indicators of dehydration).
  2. Certain Types of Food
    Acidic, salty, and spicy foods exacerbate dry skin which can lead to extremely chapped lips. Try and avoid these types of foods if you notice your lips are becoming dry.
  3. Exposure to Sun/Wind
    Boating all day or being in the sun for extended periods of time can take a toll on your lips. If you don’t protect your lips from the sun and wind, your lips will be more prone to becoming chapped. Always wear sun block and use lip balm to protect your lips whenever you’re out braving harsh climatic elements.
  4. Allergies
    Certain ingredients found in your toothpaste or other beauty products can irritate your skin. Avoid toothpaste containing sodium laurel sulfate as this may be the cause of your dry lips. Read the ingredient labels on beauty products and avoid ones containing alcohol and/or harsh chemicals like parabens that can aggravate the sensitive skin on your lips.
  5. Vitamin Deficiency
    Vitamin B2 deficiency can cause dry cracked lips. Try increasing your intake of Vitamin B2 rich foods such as red meat, eggs, and spinach.
  6. Vitamin A Overdose
    Excess dietary Vitamin A intake can also cause chapped lips. Because Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, any excess will be stored in your body. It can easily become toxic when taken in high doses. If you’re taking Vitamin A supplements, stop taking them and see if your lip condition improves.
  7. Medication
    Certain acne treatments and blood pressure medication can cause dry skin. Check the list of side effects found on the label of your prescription drug. If your medication is causing extremely dry lips, talk to your health care provider and see if he/she can prescribe an alternative drug.
  8. Yeast
    An often overlooked cause of chapped lips is yeast overgrowth. If yeast overgrowth is suspected, your doctor can scrape the lesion and test it to find out if that’s the case.
  9. Disease
    Autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, and psoriasis can all cause lip dryness. It’s important to rule out any disease if your lips do not get better or if the issue persists.
  10. Environmental Conditions
    Indoor heating, mouth breathing, and lip licking are all environmental factors that can cause and/or worsen dry lips. Turn on a humidifier during the cold, dry months to help moisten the air. And always protect your lips – especially if you’re known to breathe through your mouth or lick your lips.