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There are lots of reasons for dry cracked lips. It could mean that you are dehydrated, vitamin deficient, or have too much vitamin. Whatever the reasons are, dry and cracked lips are a pain and are very uncomfortable.
When you look at the skin on the lips, you would notice they are quite different from the rest of the face. Unlike the rest of the face, the skin on the lips lacks sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are responsible for producing oils and moisturizing the face. Due to the lack of sebaceous glands on the lips, they are bound to become dry, rough, and lose water easily.
The lips also lack melanin which makes them very sensitive to light. Prolonged exposure to sunlight makes the lips dry without protection. Although this depends on ethnicity, dark skin type has more melanin on the lips than lighter skin. Here are 10 reasons for dry cracked lips
1. Lip Licking
This is the most common form of dry lips which many people have the habit of doing. When you lick your lips, the digestive enzymes in the saliva irritate the lips. It removes the thin oily protective film from the lips leading to moisture loss and ultimately dry, cracked lips. This is mostly seen on the lower lips.
2. Harsh Weather Conditions
Cold dry air or hot weather can result in loss of the lip’s protective film leading to sore and dry lips due to low humidity. In most cases, people tend to lick their lips often which further aggravates the problem.
3. Ingredients In Lipstick
Some ingredients found in lipsticks can cause skin allergies and irritate the lips. It manifests as dry, scaly, and red lips. Studies have found that lipsticks that contain synthetic fragrances, dyes, and preservatives cause skin allergies so it is best to do a patch test before fully using them.
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) found in most toothpaste can lead to dry and chapped lips. Another is the Green Mint in some toothpaste. Green mint in toothpaste may cause irritation and dryness so if you have sensitive skin, you might want to do a patch test first.
People with eczema tend to have more chapped lips than people without eczema. This condition is known as lip dermatitis which is usually caused by allergies to cosmetic or dental products
Dehydration also causes the lips the be dry. The lips do not have sebaceous glands to replenish lost moisture so not drinking enough water will worsen dry lips. Drinking about 8 glasses of water per day is recommended.
7. Sun Exposure
The sun and UV radiation lead to more dryness by damaging the skin cells. This affects the lower lips more than the upper lips because it is poorly protected by melanin and oils. If left untreated the lips may turn out scaly and bleed out.
Certain medications such as retinoids or antibiotics can cause your lips to dry out. So it is important to pay attention and let your health practitioner know.
9. Medicated Lip Products
A lot of these lip products usually contain camphor, menthol, or phenol that irritates the lips. The tingly sensations make us believe it’s working but they are mostly drying out the lips.
10. Vitamin Imbalance
The deficiency of vitamin B, iron, and zinc will cause the lips to become inflamed. The lips start by looking red, then it thickens up and eventually peel. This condition is aggravated when there is continuous lip licking, biting, and sucking. Adding green vegetables, liver, fish, cereal, whole grains, or taking supplements will reduce the appearance of dry lips.
Also, too much Vitamin A will make the lips dry out. This condition may be acute or chronic. You can get enough vitamin A from eating foods such as milk, egg, dark fruits, or any yellow, orange, or red-coloured fruits but avoid taking vitamin A supplements to prevent hypervitaminosis.
How To Heal Dry Cracked Lips
The lips are very vulnerable than any other part of the face. This means that preventing and looking out for what could aggravate your dry lips is the first step.
After that, look for lip balms with emollient properties, this will help hydrate and improve the lips to look soft and smooth. The more emollient a lip balm is, the better. Ingredients that contain lanolin oil, beeswax, shea butter, castor oil, safflower oil, cocoa butter, almond oil, and vegetable oils work well on the lips. Also, consider getting a humidifier, this could help the skin and lips from drying out in low humid weather conditions.
The first step to take to healing dry lips is exfoliation, it may seem counter-intuitive to exfoliate dry, irritated lips but this step helps reveal new fresh and soft lips. We all know the good old fashion honey scrub, using soft granulated sugar and honey to slough down the rough bits is quite helpful. There are also amazing lip products that exfoliate the lips well
Lip Sleeping Masks
If you have not heard of lip sleeping masks, then you are missing out. A lip sleeping mask helps your lips to stay hydrated overnight by providing you with moisturizing ingredients that leave your lips soft and plump.
Lip Balm With SPF
This is your greatest defence during the day. Apply lip balm with SPF with a broad spectrum SPF to protect against both UVA and UVB light. It also prevents the occurrence of cold sores outbreak
Dry lips are not fun and are uncomfortable. To treat dry lips, it is important to know the reasons why your lips are dry. Could it be caused by weather, vitamin deficiency, or habits? Knowing this is the first step in fixing it. Then following through with the lip care routine that I have laid down in this post will ultimately get your lips soft and looking plump all year round.