Treating Chapped Lips

Written by April Reinhardt (last updated September 5, 2008)

Growing up in Ohio winters had me playing outside with siblings and friends in zero weather. Invariably, each winter I formed a bad case of chapped lips, including the skin above my upper lip. While licking my lips eased the pain, it also added to the problem, resulting in redness, chafing, and pain, akin to a burn.

Dry weather, lip biting, overexposure to the sun, sucking on your lips, ill-fitting dentures, and vitamin deficiencies can all cause chapped lips. Although most common in wintertime, chapped lips can happen any time. Prevention is always better than a cure, so here are some things that you can do to prevent chapped lips:

  • Do not lick your lips, since saliva evaporates and leaves your lips dry. Instead, use petroleum based lip balm, such as the popular ChapStick brand.
  • If you have a jar of Vaseline or generic petroleum jelly, coat your lips with it, since the petroleum will keep moisture in, and wind and sun out.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • On windy days, wear a scarf over your face, blocking the wind from chapping your lips.
  • Use sunscreen on your lips. Purchase lip balms containing an SPF of 15.
  • Use a humidifier to keep the air in your home moist, since dryer air commonly causes chapped lips.

While preventing chapped lips is always best, treating chapped lips is not difficult. Follow these steps to have your chapped lips silky smooth in a short amount of time:

  1. Hold a clean washcloth under running hot water, then hold the soaked cloth against your lips until the cloth cools. Repeat this step four times or more, depending on how rough your lips are. Soak your lips until the roughness is pliable.
  2. After you've softened your lips, wet your washcloth in hot water again, wring out the excess, then rub the cloth vigorously back and forth, exfoliating the dead, dry skin from your lips entirely. When you have finished, your lips will feel smooth.
  3. Rinse the washcloth in cold water, hold it to your lips for a moment, and then pat your lips with your fingertips.
  4. Apply a thick coat of petroleum jelly to your lips with your finger. Allow the jelly coating to stay in place for twenty minutes, or until it soaks into your lip skin. After twenty minutes, gently remove any excess jelly, then apply a medicated lip balm or beeswax.
  5. Repeat these steps daily until your chapped lips heal, and then use lip balm to maintain your smooth lips.

There are instances when chapped lips are a sign of a more serious medical condition. Persons with a vitamin deficiency develop chapped lips and cracks in the corners of their mouth. Loose-fitting dentures also can cause chapped lips. In either instance, see your health professional for advice in treating your chapped lips.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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