Written by Debra Wyatt (last updated August 12, 2022)
Living in the West I have suffered with annoying chapped lips for years. The dry, windy, cold (or hot) weather helped my lips get dry in a hurry. I remember being told repeatedly "stop licking your lips; you are going to make them hurt even more." No one ever told why it would hurt more. I just knew that licking made my lips feel better, even if it was just for the moment. I have since learned that licking my lips was actually the worst thing that I could have done to them.
By licking my lips I caused my lips to dry out even more. Many things can contribute to dry lips. Stress is one of those things: If a person is stressed the tendency is to either bite or lick the lips, which causes the lips to get dryer. If the house or office is too dry, this will dry out lips as well, causing more lip licking. When a person licks their lips they remove the natural oil that is found on lips. With the natural oil gone there is room for bacteria to get into the cracks of the lips. Keeping hydrated by drinking plenty of water and non-caffeinated fluids can help maintain moist lips.
To keep lips moist is to start out by exfoliating and moisturizing them. Using a gentle exfoliate is best. A great home remedy for exfoliating lips is to make a paste out of a papaya. Use only about a quarter of the papaya and mash it. Place the mashed papaya on the lips and the skin surrounding the lips. Leave the papaya on the lips for about 15 minutes. Rinse the papaya off and then apply lip balm.
Another way to exfoliate lips—especially if in a hurry—is to take a toothbrush and gently rub the toothbrush on top of the lips. Remember to always apply lip balm after exfoliating your lips.
Using the wrong kind of lip product or one that contains cinnamate can actually dry out your lips. (Cinnamate is an ingredient used to enhance the flavor. While it may make the lips plumper, it may also cause irritation.) In addition, if the lip product is too heavy there is a tendency to try to lick it off. Keep the lip balm on the light side and remember to reapply every couple of hours.
If you still suffer from dry lips after trying the above remedies, then it is time to visit a physician. When you go, take with you a list of the different things that you tried. There is a small possibility that the dry lips are caused by a fungal infection or other medical problem, in which case medication is needed.
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