Chapped lips – how to get rid of them?

Maybe with the start of the winter, many of you face an unpleasant sense of chapped dry lips. One of the most common conditions of the lips is Cheilitis simplex.

Cheilitis can affect the lips, the skin around them, the lip corners as well as the vermilion. Lips are part of the mouth cavity that play a role as a threshold through which the intake and excretion of various nutritive substances are controlled. From the inner side, the lips are covered with mucosa built of the multilayered squamous non-keratinized epithelium. It contains small mucous glands that can be sensed when touched. The skin turns into mucosa at the lips rims. The mucosa is richly provided with blood vessels, which gives the reddish color to the lips. A great array of health conditions of the blood and blood supply can change the color of the mucosa, which has great importance in diagnostics.

The common cheilitis may affect both lips when the usual symptoms are chapping, cracking, and peeling of the skin of the lips. It can cause swelling of the lips, erythema (redness), forming of papules and bullae (blisters), crusts, and squamae (peeling of the lips) – (in an advanced phase of the inflammation).

The causes leading to these symptoms may be:

  • mechanical: biting lips, sucking, licking lips i.e. bad habits     
  • thermal changes can also have an effect, for example, overexposure to the sun, low temperature, cold wind, very cold or hot food, and drinks consumption.      

Normally the lips have a very thin layer keeping them constantly hydrated. Bad habits lower the function of this thin layer and ultimately lead to dryness and lips discomfort. Some children have the habit of sucking their upper lip, which can cause early childhood tooth decay as well as affect the salivation of the mouth cavity and lip condition. Such children can be noticed having numerous carious lesions, red, dry, and chapped lips, as well as xerostomia (dry mouth).

Basically the treatment focuses on eliminating the cause of the condition emergence – ditching the bad habits, controlled intake of hot and cold drinks, as well as controlling the trauma over the lips from biting. In such inflammations, it is recommended that the patient should use hydrating, oil-enriched cosmetic products. At the beginning of the treatment vaseline and lanoline are applied on the lips, as well as local application of non-steroid anti-inflammatory ointments or mild corticosteroid oils. In advanced cases, your doctor or dentist may suggest photo protectors, strong corticosteroid products and products from the group of antihistamines.

Dr. Kiril Manduloski