A Moment on the Lips
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Pucker up – unless you have chapped lips. Why do your lips chap? Lips are the softest part of your face and endure dust, pollution, bacteria and a variety of food items that make them dry. Your lips are also exposed to the sun, just like the rest of your skin. They need a little extra care and protection to retain their softness.
Here’s how you can protect your lips:
1. Apply a non-irritating lip balm (or lip moisturizer) several times a day and before bed. If your lips are very dry and cracked, try a thick ointment, such as white petroleum jelly. Ointment seals in water longer than waxes or oils.
2. Slather on a non-irritating lip balm with SPF 30 or higher before going outdoors. Even in the winter, it’s important to protect your lips from the sun. The sun can burn and dry chapped lips more easily, which could trigger cold sores. A precancerous lip inflammation caused by long-term sun exposure, is approximately 12 times more likely to affect the bottom lip than the top. To protect dry, chapped lips from the sun, use lip balm that offers SPF 30 or higher and one (or both) of these sun-protective ingredients:
o Titanium oxide
o Zinc oxide
3. While outdoors, apply the lip balm every two hours.
4. Stop licking, biting, and picking at your lips. When lips feel dry, it might feel natural to wet them by licking them, but this can worsen the problem. As saliva evaporates, your lips become drier.
5. Drink plenty of water. Chapped lips are dry lips, so you want to stay hydrated.
6. Picking or biting your lips also irritates them, which can prevent healing.
Shiny lip balms and gloss without an SPF designation attract the sun, which can lead to painful burns and skin damage.
Remember to reapply lip balm after eating or drinking, too. If your lips burn, sting, or feel uncomfortable when you apply a product to your lips, it means you’re irritating your lips, so you want to stop using that product.
Resources: American Academy of Dermatology Association.org and skincancer.org
Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.