Cracked or dry lips are one of the most common problems experienced during the winter months by a large number of people. Just like skin on other parts of the body, lips do not generate protective natural oils to safeguard against cold winds and low humidity. Changes in weather and environment could affect the lips. The condition of dry and cracked lips can begin as a meek annoyance and soon turn out to be a painful situation with high risk of infection. Generally, elderly people and children are more prone to the risk of developing cracked lips because of either change related to age or, in children, the inability of caring for them properly.
There are numerous causes leading to dry and cracked lips, the most common ones including reduced moisture levels in the skin covering and surrounding the lips. The dermal layer of the lip surface gets dehydrated and thus prone to cracking and breaking. This article talks about the various things to be looked for and the steps that can be taken to prevent and treat dry and cracked lips.
Causes of Cracked Lips
Cracked lips can occur as a result of various elements like allergies, medications, dehydration, smoking, and moisture surfeit at corners of mouth, unfitted dentures, other dental issues like dental disease or alignment problems, excessive drinking, dry mouth, eczema, and similar more. Moreover, cracking at the corners of the mouth also indicate a causal health issue such as diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, and anemia. Many additional causes are further explained in the following points in the below points for your acquaintance:
There are certain lipsticks which can, sometimes lead women to have dry lips. If any cosmetic is observed to make the skin dry, the use of such cosmetic should be discontinued immediately. There are many different products available in the market, which are helpful in moisturizing dry lips. But, it is essentially important to note that it is not necessary for the same brand to show similar results for different skins. The choice of brand should depend upon the individual skin type.
Weather and Environment
On being exposed to very hot or cold temperatures, the lips become more prone to the risk of getting dried thus taking the form of cracked lips. The reason behind this is that extreme weather causes the natural moisture contained by the lips to evaporate. If you have any plans to spend a day out, it should be ensured that a lip balm containing sunscreen is used. The lip balm needs to be applied repeatedly during the time spent outside thus preventing the cracked lips from getting worse.
Dry and cracked lips are also an outcome of exposure to dry air. This is essentially true in the home as well as for the air surrounding you while outdoor. To avert the air inside home from getting dry, the use of a humidifier for adding moisture is recommended. These humidifiers are available in a variety of sizes to adjust to any size room of your house.
Dry and cracked lips are the primary indicators of dehydration. Dehydration occurs on loss of un-replaced fluid from the body. The loss of these fluids can occur through sunlight, exercise, diarrhea, and by not drinking sufficient water.
Another cause for cracked and dry lips can be poor nutrition including a deficiency of Iron and Vitamin B. a healthy diet should contain sufficient quantity of fish, poultry, meat, as well as a variety of dairy products.
Very often, cracked and dry lips may occur as an effect of negative reactions to skin care products and various cosmetics. Usually, excessive use of commercial products can worsen the very condition they are purportedly designed to treat.
Some people may experience dry and cracked lips as a result of spicy food intake.
Sometimes, shoddily placed dentures can also lead to cracked lips.
Many times, some medicines may produce side effects in the form of cracked lips. If you are about to start with a new medication regime, talk to your doctor about these possibilities.
Any kind of history for a skin disorder type can be associated with cracked or dry lips.
There are certain vitamins which are essential to maintain healthy skin and lips. These comprise:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin deficiency)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Smoking or chewing
Anything that is brought into regular contact with lips can affect their condition.
Another cause of lip cracks may include diabetes or a history of the same in the family. Symptoms related to diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
This is a blood condition wherein the average red blood cell size increases to alarming levels thus showing their results in the form of dry and cracked lips.
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
This is a type of autoimmune disease that can harm the tear ducts and similar glands thus leading to seriously cracked lips.
- Kawasaki Disease
The Kawasaki disease is, although rare, a serious blood disorder that can cause seriously cracked lips.
- Sexually transmitted disease
Many sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and similar other diseases can be considered as one of the primary causes of cracked lips.
Symptoms of Cracked Lips
Generally, it is quite easy to know if your lips are dry and cracked. However, some other symptoms similar to those for cracked lips can be mistaken for this condition. The primary symptoms indicating dry lips include frequent lip licking, flaky skin (peeling of the lips), cracks or bleeding from sides of the mouth, painful and sensitive lips that otherwise appear healthy, open sores, marks or similar symptoms.
In addition to the abovementioned symptoms, cracked lips are also accompanied by the following symptoms under different categories:
Some other common symptoms associated with dry and cracked lips include:
- Redness and inflammation
- A feeling or burn or tingle
- Tightness, cracking, and peeling while speaking and smiling
- Dryness in lips and the area around the mouth
Mouth symptoms accompanying cracked lips
Cracked lips are often accompanied by other symptoms impinging on mouth like:
- Canker sores
- Cold sores
- Hoarse voice
- Dry mouth
- Warmth, redness or swelling
Other symptoms accompanying cracked lips
Cracked lips are also accompanied by symptoms associated with other body systems like:
- General ill feeling
- Feeling excessively thirsty
- Stuffy nose or nasal condition
Symptoms indicating a serious condition
In many cases, cracked lips may occur along with other symptoms which signify a serious condition which requires immediate evaluation in an emergency setting. These include:
- Fainting or lethargy or change in level of consciousness
- Loss of consciousness or confusion for even a short moment
- Reduced urine production
Treating Cracked lips
If cracked lips are not treated well in time, they can take a severe form thus leading to inflammation, scarring, bleeding, and even severe infection. Lip licking, which is usually a natural response to dryness, can result in further cracking and is very common in kids and elders. Moreover, if the problem is left untreated, the affected area can spread to chin and cheeks. The problem of cracked and dry lips can be treated in numerous ways as mentioned ahead.
Clinical treatment for cracked lips
The doctor may prescribe you a medicated ointment or balm to help you treat cracked lips besides protecting them from environmental contaminate which may be responsible for infections. If there is any occurrence of an infection, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.
Sometimes, antibiotics can produce allergic reactions like diarrhea, headache, and yeast infection (in women). If any type of side effect is experienced, the doctor should be consulted for trying a different antibiotic. Women facing yeast infections can request an extra medication to take care of the problem, or may also request for a new prescription that shows a lesser risk for yeast infections.
If, in any case, the affected area has become tender and painful, application of any existing treatment can result in an initial sensation for burning, but should settle after healing begins.
Effectiveness and cost
Usually, balms and salves are quite effective and cost effective. Moreover, these costs are most probably covered by insurance. Antibiotics, which are helpful in treating infections, can be, however, a little expensive, but should also be covered under various insurance plans.
Home Treatment for cracked lips
Besides the aforesaid clinical treatments, there are also some natural remedies which can help improve the condition of dry lips. These include:
- Intervallic exfoliation to remove dead and cracking skin cells. Try a mixture of sugar and honey, or sugar and olive oil to get natural moisture and exfoliation thus instigating the healing of lips. Moreover, there are numerous lip balms that include honey as the primary ingredient for its healing and anti-fungal properties.
- Aloe Vera is a plant that includes vitamins and amino acids. This is the reason that it can be used to treat not only cracked lips but also rashes and burns. Moreover, it also gives a reasonable level of moisturization.
- Very often used on the nose to provide additional moisture for protection against sunburn, zinc oxide also provides protection for cracked lips.
Some other remedies for cracked lips
Besides, the different home treatments for dry and cracked lips, there are also some simple remedies that can be applied to prevent and treat dry and cracked lips. These include:
- Apply lip balm
- Avoid the use of a flavored toothpaste
- Increase water intake and other fluids (non-alcoholic)
- Rubbing thin cucumber slice on the lips also helps
- Apply extract from margosa leaves
- Apply a little Aloe Vera gel on lips
- Do not prick dry and cracked skin from the lips. This can result in bleeding.
- Wear a coat of lip balm before applying lipstick thus protecting the lips from the chemical content contained in the lipstick.
- Choose lipsticks that contain a moisture base
- Avoid using too much of lipstick as an excessive use can block the pores
- Massage your lips with a mixture of lime juice, milk cream, and rose water thus maintaining the moisture and keeping them nourished
- Apply a little amount of cocoa butter on lips
- Applying a coat of wheat germ oil and glycerin can also help in preventing the loss of moisture from lips. You can also add Vitamin E oil to the mixture.
- Applying a paste of mashed papaya can also prove to be beneficial. Allow it to stay on lips for 10 minutes and then douse it.
Prevention for cracked lips
As is wisely said, “Prevention is better than cure.” Prevention is actually the key when it comes to skirmishing dry lips. There are certain steps that can be adopted to reduce the risk of developing this painful condition. These steps of prevention are mentioned ahead for your acquaintance.
As the primary caution, try to use a humidifier to maintain the moisture of air in the home during cold winters. This will help in not only preventing cracked lips but also in improving the general skin health.
Secondly, ensure using a sunscreen regularly, even during the winters to prevent sunburn. It is beneficial to use a beeswax based lip balm, or petroleum jelly to protect the lips from sunburn as well as windburn, in addition to locking the moisture in. also, try to avoid the use of products that may create irritation on skin including harsh skin care products or skin cleansers. It is rather better to opt for hypo-allergic products.
Above all, it is recommended to stay hydrated to prevent the occurrence of cracked lips. Drink a minimum of 6-8 glasses of water every day. If you have plans to be outside for long periods during hot summer months, ensure drinking sufficient water not only to avoid dehydration but also heat stroke.