Chapped Lips Causes, Treatments and Home Remedies

Chapped lips or cheilitis is a common problem that both in adults and babies. Read about what causes and the best remedies to heal them. You will also see some treatments and products to use.

Chapped lips do not look good on anyone. Neither are they a pleasant experience.  Severely chapped smackers can even be extremely uncomfortable and painful. The dryness aside, one may also have cracks or splits, bleeding, and pain. Even if you do not have the severe symptoms, one may still feel sore.

The medical term for dry, cracked, inflamed lips is cheilitis. There are several kinds of cheilitis, some more serious than others. Furthermore, there are also several reasons why they could be chapped.

Severely chapped lips
Why do they get chapped?



These are very dry lips or those that have lost all moisture. There are several reasons your for this. Below are some common causes. Some may be obvious but read on, there is a couple you might not have thought about.

Exposure to various elements

Our lips are one of the most exposed parts of our bodies. They have thin skin and do not have any oil-producing glands or protective hair to guard against losing moisture.

Thus, exposure to dry and or windy weather conditions strip whatever moisture was on them very fast.

Heat, the sun, wind and dry air are not friendly to the skin, especially the lips and may lead to dryness if you are exposed for prolonged periods.

Frequent licking

Like in all conditions that involve dryness of the skin, most of the causes can be traced back to the loss of moisture. Licking them may seem like it is helping solve dryness but it is actually having the opposite effect in the long run.

As saliva dries, it takes away any moisture you had. Making a habit of biting and chewing them will also leave your lips chapped.

Certain Medications

Certain medications meant to help you with some other conditions in your body may leave you with sore cracked lips. A good example is acne medication containing isotretinoin which went by the name Accutane until l a few years ago but is now sold under a number of brand names. People who were on Accutane experience varying degrees chapping as a side effect.

While some may only notice some tightness and mild cracking, others may get severely chapped burning lips for as long as they are using the acne medicine. Some medication prescribed for blood pressure could also get them chapped as a side effect too.

Nutrient Deficiency

Sometimes dry, peeling lips is a symptom of vitamin deficiency specifically riboflavin. Riboflavin is also known as vitamin B2. You could also have this problem if your diet lacks essential fatty acids.


Smokers tend to get this problem more frequently as they tend to lose any moisture and oils to evaporation.

Some medical conditions

Thyroid related conditions for example may be accompanied by lips chapping. Another example of a medical condition that will leave you with this problem is psoriasis. Sometimes extremely cracked or chapped could be a pre-stage for cancer


You may have already figured this out, but in case you haven’t, here goes; your lips could be chapping because you are dehydrated. Dry lips could actually signal that your body as a whole is not getting enough water.

Too much vitamin A

Ingesting too much of this vitamin is one of the causes of red flaky lips, especially if you are taking vitamin supplements.

Allergic Reactions

If you can’t link the chapping to one of the above causes, you should consider that a reaction to one of the products you frequently use could be the cause. You could be sensitive to some of the products you use on your mouth and lips, rather the ingredients they contain.

SLS or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is one of the ingredients in your cosmetic products that many say can irritate the skin if it comes in contact with it. The chapping may be indicating this irritation. Fragrances, salicylic acid, and alcohol in lip care products like lipsticks could also be drying them and may cause them to peel.

Treatments and cure

Most people assume all you need to fix this problem is a chapstick. This is not entirely true. While finding a good chapstick or moisturizing balm is important for reasons we will explain a little further along, it is not the end-all for your chapping problems.

Oh well, why wait, we will say it right now. Some chapsticks and balms are bad and some people say they have experienced the products which are made to help make a bad situation worse. You should not trust anything that calls itself a chapstick or purports to be a moisturizer.

Some chapsticks contain ingredients that do not help with the moisture at all, and it is a double tragedy. Some ingredients mentioned in the list of bad for complete healing include camphor and menthol, favorites in the chapstick industry.

Not all chapsticks and balms are bad; however, not all are that great either.The best chapstick for cracked lips will contain a heavy dose of emollients and will have ingredients that are as natural as is possible.

These lip balms, conditioners, and chapsticks got some great and not so great reviews.It would be a great place to start in your search for a chapstick that will not do your dry lips more harm than good.

Below are more lip care tips and suggestions on what to use the chapping problem:


To heal them that are chapped fast;

  • Ensure you drink enough water
  • Always protect them during harsh conditions like dry winter, heat, wind or sun using a scarf or ski mask that covers your mouth.
  • Keep them moisturized at all times.
  • Discontinue using any product you suspect is causing them to be dry and chapped.


  • Eat citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit, they only make it worse
  • Ditto Spicy and salty foods
  • Spend long hours outdoors without protecting them
  • Forget to buy a moisturizing balm with sunscreen to use as a barrier between your lips and the elements.
  • Smoke
  • Pick the flakes, peel or try to exfoliate

You may need to see a doctor if the chapping is really bad. Also if it will not heal despite your best efforts. Sometimes the chronic cracking and chapping on the lips could be a fungal, a bacterial infection or a pre-cancer condition. For these, even the best balm will not offer relief and you may need prescription topical cream from a doctor.

Home remedies to get rid of chapped lips

Sometimes the best remedy is the one you can whip up from the comfort of your own home. Here are a couple of remedies that cure this problem.

Butter /Ghee

Butter makes a delicious spread, but can also be used to remedy this cracking or chapping. Apply a little on your chapped lips before you go to bed and leave overnight. You can make it a habit if you want to always wake up with perfectly conditioned kissable ones. Ghee will also work if used the same way.

Cucumber slices

This vegetable can work as a natural cure for dry, cracked lips.  You will need to cut off a few slices from a cucumber and rub them on your lips. Leave them for thirty minutes then remove. People who have tested cucumber say it leaves them wonderfully moisturized and really feeling fresh. We would not be overreaching if we called cucumber one of the best cures for splitting, sore lips.


Some people with very cracked lips have found relief in Vaseline. Many consider it as the best moisturizer, even if it does not say so on the jar. Just apply Vaseline overnight to soften them. You can also apply as often as you need during the day.

Vaseline can also be used alongside honey for as an effective treatment. Apply the pure honey directly on your lips and finish off with the Vaseline. You can remove the mixture with the help of some warm water and a cotton swab fifteen minutes later. This remedy will help heal soreness, soothe dryness and even prevent infection in case of cracks and be peeling.

If they are too dry and cracked, you can first apply a little warm water with a cotton swab to soften them first so you can easily spread the Vaseline.

Natural Oils

Natural oils like castor oil, almond oil, and coconut oil applied regularly will not only prevent further chapping but is said to be one of the best treatment for chapping.

A combination of castor oil and honey is a great home remedy that is severely cracked and bleeding. Apply twice a day or as often as you feel the need to and this mixture will give you back smooth lips in no time

Olive oil can also get rid of chapping and dryness. Use the oil you pick several times a day for perfectly moist lips in no time.

What to do if your newborn gets chapped lips

Newborns can also get this problem and if this goes on for a little bit, their delicate brand new lips will chap.

The condition may interfere with the child’s feeding and comfort not to mention that if unaddressed it could escalate to an infection.

The causes we listed above except smoking and probably the reaction to cosmetic products could apply to a newborn too. Breathing through the mouth can also cause cracked this problem in a baby.

They may also be a sign that your baby is dehydrated. You may want to watch out if your baby is showing other symptoms that could point at dehydration as it can be quite serious in babies.

Your baby having dry, splitting lips should not send you into a panic.

You can prevent them from occurring by covering your newborns face when you are going to spend some time outdoors.Cover the child’s face against the elements. You can also turn on your humidifier at night during dry winter months and also check to see that your baby is breathing the nose as opposed to the mouth.

When it comes to product for relieving this problem, we understand why you will hesitate to use any product or home remedy. This site here says Lanolin cream which naturally occurs in sheep’s wool is the best thing to use for the chapped lip on a baby.  It is perfectly safe and will aid in healing the chapping. Lanolin is also used by new mothers to heal and soothe cracked painful nipples.

To treat them naturally, you can also use breast milk to wet the lips. Spread and leave this milk on to soothe your baby’s lips and also prevent infections from taking up residence in the cracks.

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