This article on chapped lips contains great information on how to prevent and treat chapped lips in adults and children.

 What are Chapped Lips?

Amost everyone experiences dry chapped lips from time to time. They are often caused by simple dehydration, or from too much exposure to sunshine, wind or intense cold. The official name for chapped lips is cheilitis.

Chapped lips also come with winter colds and flu – or any time, such as with allergies, which cause you to breathe through your mouth rather than your nose. People who snore or who have problems with tonsils and adenoids can also develop chapped lips.

Some musicians, flute players for instance, can also suffer with chapped lips.

Children with Down’s syndrome can suffer from chronic chapped lips and may require thyroid treatment.

The chemist store has a number of medicated remedies you can use, or there are a host of alternative and old-fashioned remedies like beeswax ointments, aloe vera gel or a dollop of Vaseline.

Children with chapped lips need to be taught not to lick them, as this causes the condition to worsen. If babies or children have chapped lips, keep their faces clean and use beeswax or other natural balm regularly.

Signs and symptoms of chapped lips

Your child’s lips may be:

  • Dry
  • Red
  • Cracked
  • Peeling
  • Sore

Treatment for chapped lips

  • Use lip balm several times throughout the day (get your child to carry a small tube of cream in their pocket or school bag)
  • Beeswax ointments are an excellent treatment for dry lips – as are petroleum based products like Vaseline
  • Use a sunscreen on your lips when going out in the sun or cold weather
  • If your lips have become raw, buy a medicated balm or cream from the chemist and apply regularly

Risks & complications of chapped lips

  • The condition becomes chronic (long lasting)
  • Infection arising from cracks in the lips
  • Dermatitis – repeated licking of dry lips to try and moisten them with saliva can cause dermatitis. Avoid constant lip licking as this only makes chapped lips worse
  • Recurring bouts of chapped lips need further investigation: you may be allergic to substances in lipsticks or you may need a visit to the dentist to check gums and teeth are healthy
  • Your child may be suffering from a lack of the thyroid hormone – talk to your doctor

What can I do to help chapped lips?

  • Use an exfoliant on your lips regularly – smooth, supple lips help protect against dryness and chapping (even a rub with a face cloth each day will help)
  • If you’re a woman, use a lipstick as this helps moisturise and protect the lips. Use lipstick on top of sunscreen
  • Eat a nutritious diet. Chapped and cracked lips can indicate a deficiency of Vitamin B. Add a B complex vitamin supplement to your diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Check you are not sensitive to the toothpaste you are using – switch to a natural brand with few or no additives. Or use the old fashioned remedy of cleaning your teeth with baking soda
  • Use Neem oil on your lips
  • Rub your lips with a slice of cucumber
  • Try aloe vera gel on your lips
  • Avoid too much exposure to sun, wind or cold that can trigger the condition (situations such as skiing, sailing, horse-riding or going to the beach can all act as triggers).
This is an essential family health reference, covering over 100 common, important, potentially serious and often worrying symptoms and emergencies, such as headaches, chest pain, dizziness, fever, bleeding, tiredness or stress. This classic bestseller has now been completely revised and updated to include the latest information on how to care for your sick child.

Helpful Articles

Chapped Lips often come hand-in-hand with colds and flu when our children have runny noses and can’t breathe properly.  Read more about Colds and Flu in our articles on these topics.


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Kimberley Paterson is a writer and public relations expert living in Whangaparaoa. She had an initial career as a registered nurse and has spent the last 20 years writing about health and well-being.

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