Featured Doctor: Shilesh Iyer, MD

Featured Section: myDoqter Skin+Beauty

Dr. Shilesh Iyer is a board-certified dermatologist in private practice in New York City. He has an interest in medical dermatology and cosmetic dermatology with an emphasis on lasers and injectable treatments. Dr. Iyer is a co-founder of myDoqter.com and the myDoqter blog which aims to provide practical information to patients in a concise, clear manner from trusted sources. In this original post, Dr. Iyer discusses some simple tips and best practices to address dry, chapped lips.

What Are The Causes of Dry Lips?

In general, dry and chapped lips are a very common problem without any medical significance. Usually due to dry winter and ambient conditions, dry lips and mouth can also be a sign of dehydration so adequate water intake is recommended. Usually, simple over the counter lip products can effectively address the common causes of dry lips but if persistent, further investigation and perhaps a visit to your dermatologist may be warranted.

Dry Lips and Dry Mouth And Medical Conditions

Dry chapped lips can be uncomfortable and painful especially when cracking and fissuring occurs. Usually over the counter products will alleviate the symptoms but when they do not, it may be prudent to investigate possible underlying causes. Some possible medical conditions that your doctor might consider could include:

  • medication reactions
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • dehydration
  • diabetes, thyroid, or other metabolic conditions
  • allergic reactions to lip balms or oral care products
  • infections

Persistent symptoms may require additional testing that can be readily performed by your physician.

How to Treat Cracked Corners

Non-healing fissured corners of the lips often can signify a more serious problem characterized by a superinfection of the dry, cracked lips with a yeast called candida. This condition is also known as perleche and can be improved by adding a topical anti fungal cream. In some cases, cold sores may occur in these locations as well so an evaluation with your dermatologist may be required.

What Is The Best Lip Balm?

I am often asked which lip balm is the most effective. Many preparations are readily available at the drug store and we have all seen the sea of products in the local drug store. They come in a wide array of colors and flavors and sometimes are fun to use. In most cases, any of these products can help. However, there are two caveats:

  1. if a product is not helping and/or seemingly making the problem worse, an irritation reaction to the product may be developing and would need discontinuation of the product and sometimes even a topical prescription medication to relieve the symptoms.
  2. While many of the etc products can help, a favorite among dermatologists is plain petrolatum which is popular not only for its effectiveness but also it’s hypoallergenicity.

7 Quick Tips For Treating Chapped Lips

For a quick overview of some simple measures that can be taken to manage dry lips, review the following:

  1. Do not lick your lips as the enzymes in saliva can irritate the skin and make the problem worse.
  2. Use plain petrolatum (vaseline) to hydrate your lips. This is the best and most hypo-allergenic lip product out there.
  3. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids as the mouth and lips are the first to become very dry with dehydration.
  4. Avoid lip products with numerous ingredients (botanicals, coloring, flavoring, and fragrances) as the skin can be sensitized and irritation or allergic reactions can result.
  5. Burning, stinging, and itching may be signs of an allergy to lip products and discontinuation of all lipstick and lip balms may help.
  6. Yeast overgrowth can complicate cracking of the corners of the lips. For persistent problems in these locations, an anti-fungal cream may help.
  7. Make sure to take your vitamins and eat a healthy diet as deficiencies of low levels of zinc, essential fatty acids, and some vitamins can lead to dry skin and lips.

Following these simple tips can help maintain lip moisturization, especially in the dry cold weather and environments.

what is the best lip balm