How to Get Rid of Painful Cracked Lips

How to Get Rid of Painful Cracked Lips

Edited by Funnyhunny, Brigitta M., Lily A, Ben Rubenstein and 118 others

Cracked, dry or sore lips are common in dry, cold weather. Chronically cracked lips might be a symptom of a more serious illness, but cracked lips can usually be treated using home remedies. See Step 1 and beyond to learn how to make your lips soft and supple again.


Part 1 of 2: Treating Cracked Lips With Home Remedies

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    Drink plenty of fluids. Having 8-10 glasses of water per day is ideal. When your body is dehydrated, it often shows first in your lips. The more water, the better!

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    Don’t lick or pick at your lips. These two common habits can dry out your lips more and lead to an infection or a cold sore. When your lips are chapped, avoid the temptation to lick them constantly or pick at them.

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    Exfoliate your lips. Before applying any sort of ointment, remove the dead skin using an exfoliation method. This will expose the fresh skin and help your lips start to heal. Don’t rub your lips too harshly – that could make things worse. Gently massage them. You can exfoliate your lips using the same items you use to exfoliate other areas on your body. Try one of the following:

    • Use a salt or sugar scrub. Apply the scrub to your lips and massage them in a circular motion, rubbing away the dead skin. Your lips should feel soft and renewed.
    • Use an exfoliating brush. The easiest brush to use in this case might be your toothbrush! Just make sure it’s clean. Any other small brush will also do. Rub it over your lips in a circular motion to remove dead skin.
    • Don’t use a soap-based exfoliant. Face wash with scrubbing beads and other soap-based exfoliants will dry out your lips further.
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    Apply an ointment. Be careful which over-the-counter ointment, or chapstick, you use to heal your cracked lips. Many chapsticks and ointments contain ingredients that can dry out your lips even more, forcing you to reapply them over and over.

    • Look for a lip balm or chapstick that contains beeswax, shea butter, coconut butter, almond oil, and other natural moisturizers – and not much else. Don’t choose a lip balm with an extra-long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce.
    • A vitamin E or glycerin-based ointment containing other natural ingredients could also be helpful.[1]
    • Avoid using lipstick to moisturize your lips. Lipstick can be drying – you need a protective ointment underneath.
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    Apply oils. For an ultra-moisturizing lip treatment, rub a little oil on your lips. It will sooth and moisturize your lips while also protecting them from further damage. The following oils are helpful:

    • Coconut oil
    • Almond oil
    • Jojoba oil
    • Olive oil
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    Soothe your lips if they’re painful. If your lips are so cracked that it hurts to smile, try soothing them with a home remedy that will make them feel better. Here are a few suggestions:

    • Rubbing a cucumber slice on your lips daily for about 10 minutes is also known to be effective.
    • Rubbing some aloe vera gel on your lips can be soothing.
    • Rubbing a little honey on your lips will moisturize them and make them feel better.[2]
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    Avoid excessive use of commercial skin treatments. These include cosmetics and heavily flavored lip balms. They can dry out your skin.

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    Consider your diet. Increase the amount of needed vitamins in your diet by eating better or taking supplements like vitamin pills.

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    Try using fluoride-free toothpaste. Some people have an allergy to fluoride that not only affects their lips but can also cause other irritations in the mouth. Switch up your toothpaste and see if you notice a difference.

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    Use a humidifier in your home or office. Heating indoor spaces in the winter causes the air to dry out. Try installing a humidifier. This moistens up air in a room and ultimately moistens up your lips.

Part 2 of 2: Treating Underlying Causes of Cracked Lips

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    Find out if you sleep with your mouth open. If you wake up in the morning with dry, cracked lips, it might be because your mouth was open while you slept. The air circulating in and out of your mouth all night can dry out your lips. See if changing your sleeping position helps.

    • Wearing a mouth guard, retainer or another device that causes your mouth to stay open could also be the problem.
    • If you can’t avoid sleeping with your mouth open, apply a good ointment before bed.
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    See if your lips are cracked because of your environment. For example, leaving your lips unprotected in a strong wind can cause skin damage. Spending time in a very dry place can cause your lips to dry out and crack. If your environment is the culprit, you’ll need to take extra care to protect your lips when you go out.

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    Treat sun damage. Just as the rest of your skin can be damaged by the sun, so can your lips. Yes, you can have sunburned lips, and they hurt! Treat sun damaged lips by applying aloe to help the burned skin heal more quickly. Use chapstick with an SPF of at least 15.

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    See if smoking or chewing is the problem. Anything you regularly put in contact with your lips can affect their condition. The chemicals in cigarettes, gum and processed snacks can cause your lips to become dry and cracked.

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    Determine whether a vitamin deficiency could be at play. Certain vitamins are critical to maintaining healthy skin and lips. These include Vitamins A, B, C, B2 (Riboflavin deficiency) and E. Make sure you’re getting plenty of these vitamins to avoid cracked lips.

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    Find out if you’re having an allergic reaction. Many cracked and dry lips are the result of negative reactions to cosmetics and skin care products. Overusing commercial products can aggravate the very condition they are supposedly designed to cure.

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    See if it’s a side effects of your medications. Certain medications have dry or cracked lips as a side effect. If your condition coincides with beginning a new medication regimen, consult your doctor about this possibility.

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    Consider more serious conditions. If none of the above seems to be the cause of your painful lips, they could also be a symptom of far more serious problems. Consult a doctor if you suspect that your lip pain originates with a seemingly unrelated ailment. Some possible illnesses could be:

    • Diabetes. If you have diabetes or a history of the condition in your family, this may be a cause of your lip pain.
    • Kawasaki Disease. A serious, but rare, blood disorder that is a cause of chronic dry lips.
    • Sjogren’s Syndrome. A kind of autoimmune disease which can damage the tear ducts and similar glands is also a common cause of seriously cracked lips.
    • Macrocytosis. A blood condition where the average red blood cell size is increased to dangerous levels.
    • Sexually transmitted diseases. STD’s, including HIV and other diseases, can be an underlying cause of chronic cracked lips.

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