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Get rid of dry, cracked, chapped lips

Gayle Trent is a full-time freelance writer, author and editor. Visit her online at gayletrent.com.

kiss your chapped lips good-bye

We all hate waking up in the morning with dry, cracked lips. Even worse, the rest of your day is then spent wincing when you drink your coffee, eat hot food or kiss your partner. Margaret E Parsons, MD, FAAD -- an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California at Davis -- offers up the following advice to kiss your chapped lips good-bye.

No more chapped lips!

Figure out what is causing your dry lips

Chapped lips can actually become a condition you used to have. Before you kick your dry lips to the crub, you need to figure out what is causing your dehydrated lips. Here are some root causes to consider avoiding.

Temperature

Although weather is often blamed, it is not always the culprit. While cold and wind can contribute to dry, cracked lips, so can warm temperatures. The heat used to warm your home and car can dry out the air and lower the humidity level, which naturally leads to dry skin and lips. In addition, lips can be sunburned even on blustery, cloudy days.

Cosmetics

Be especially wary of lip plumpers which often contain chemicals to intentionally irritate lips to make them appear fuller. Capsacin (derived from chili peppers), mint and menthol are some ingredients to avoid.

Phenol, an ingredient used in some traditional lip balms, can actually contribute to further drying out the lips. This lends a hint of credence to the claim that some lip balms can be "addictive." Even though phenol is used in low concentrations in lip products, it's the same chemical used in deep-penetrating facial peels.

Foods

Spicy foods and the acid contained in citrus fruits can burn lips and lead to dryness and irritation. In addition, the cut edge of a mango peel contains the chemical Toxicodendron, which is found in poison ivy.

Tip: People with nut allergies should beware of lip products containing nut-based products like shea butter.

Medications

Dr. Parsons advises those who cannot attribute their chapped lips to other common factors to take a close look at their medicine cabinet. Some oral acne medications can cause considerable lip dryness even though they do not come in direct contact with the lips. Products applied topically, particularly acne medications and anti-aging products such as benzoyl peroxde, alpha-hydroxy acids or retinoids, could cause irritation when they come into contact with the lip area.

People with sensitive skin may be more susceptible to allergic reactions from lip products. Other culprits include dehydration, habitually or frequently licking your lips, and having a stuffy nose (forcing you to breathe through your mouth) -- all of these habits can cause your lips to become dry and sore.

TIPS AND TREATMENTS

Apply petroleum jelly or a lip product containing petrolatum or mineral oil to soothe and heal irritated lips
Opt for lipsticks or lip moisturizers which contain sunscreen and wear them year-round
Avoid lip plumpers
Apply a petrolatum-based product at bedtime
Choose lip products with few additives
Drink plenty of fluids in order to stay hydrated
Avoid licking your lips
Use a humidifier in your room while you sleep
See a dermatologist if your lips are not getting better with simple at-home treatments or if new symptoms develop.


More on curing dry skin

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