What Causes Chapped Lips?

When comparing the lips to other parts of the face, they quite literally have it rough. The lips are even physiologically unique to other parts of the body, and because of their makeup, they find themselves predisposed to severe dryness.  Today we’ll talk about how to get rid of chapped lips.

The rest of the face is actually covered in a thick and protective layer of skin that can protect against dryness. When you compare the lips to the rest of your face, it is literally sitting there exposed and naked. Many of us need to resort to different types of help in order to keep our lips moist and smooth.

The Anatomy of the Lips

Although the lips typically feel exposed and naked, there is technically a layer of skin known as the stratum corneum that helps to protect this exposed area of flesh. But the layer of skin is very thin, quite transparent and doesn’t do a very good job of covering the mucous membranes underneath. As we know, the lips are quite vulnerable to excessive dryness, mostly due to this lack of protection.

An interesting tidbit to note is that the reason why our lips are the reddish color that they are is because of the proximity of the blood vessels to the surface of the skin. Since there is only an ultra-transparent layer of skin covering up our lips, it makes it much easier to allow the bright red color to shine through.

Here’s a question that you may or may not have wondered: why do our lips turn blue in the cold? When our body temperature drops due to exposure to extreme cold environments, the blood vessels within the lips will shut down, and this will cause poor oxygenation, and the lips will turn blue because of it.

Within the lips, there are no sweat glands and minimal sebaceous glands. And as far as water loss is concerned, it is a problem that is 3 to 10 times greater than other parts of the skin.

Based on all of the information that we provided – i.e. physiological factors, cold temperatures, dryness in the winter, arid climates – it’s quite obvious to see that each one of these things can potentially contribute to dry lips. And when you are continuously exposed to these issues, chapped lips will become a regular problem that you will experience on an ongoing basis.

What Are the Predominant Causes of Chapped Lips?

As our lips tend to experience dryness – and this is really important for men since they do not wear lipstick – we will often licked them in order to help restore moisture to the area. This is something that we will tend to do repetitively in an attempt to keep the moisture there to prevent dryness and chapping.

Although this might make your lips feel better temporarily, it is actually causing a problem and making matters worse over the long run. Your tongue is transferring saliva from your mouth your lips, and this is actually going to destroy the layer of skin protecting your lips. This cycle is quite vicious, and when repeated, it will lead to cracked, sore and painful lips. So, in order to prevent chapped lips and the pain and soreness that goes along with it, you need to do your best to avoid licking your lips at all costs.

Sun damage is also another serious cause for dry and chapped lips. You might not realize this, but you can experience damage from the sun even when it is cloudy and overcast. In fact, if you go to the beach on a cloudy day, you could even end up suffering from sunburn if you do not protect your skin. Trust me because it is happened to me and it will happen to you too.

Getting back to the topic at hand, the best way to avoid chapped lips from the harmful effects of the sun is to use lip balm, lipstick or lip gloss that also contains SPF 15 or better. And even better than that, find some type of protection that also contains UVA protecting ingredients including zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and avobenzone.

We are barely just cracking the surface on potential reasons that our lips can get chapped. Some of the lesser-known ways that lip dryness can occur are as follows:

  • Using certain lip plumpers that contain irritants – whether you realize it or not, lip plumpers could potentially contain irritants that will cause your skin to dry out and create chapped lips. Avoid plumpers containing capsaicin, ginger, mint oils, menthoxypropanediol, and menthol because they are irritants known to cause chapped lips.
  • Vitamin B2 deficiency – this is a problem that can lead to chapped lips. If you are deficient in vitamin B2, it can cause your lips to crack around the sides of the mouth. Begin taking a supplement to help prevent vitamin B2 deficiency.
  • Taking too much vitamin A – when you take oral supplements, taking too much vitamin A can pose a negative effect on the body, and especially the lips. You should avoid taking more than 25,000 iu’s of this oral supplement for maximum lip protection
  • Yeast infections – yeast infections also can potentially cause chapped lips. You need to treat yeast infections correctly by talking to your doctor so that you can get a prescription oral medication for this condition.

The Best Ways to Treat Chapped Lips

Now that you know some of the causes of chapped lips, it’s in our best interest to talk a little bit about how we can easily treat this problem.

For starters, covering your lips is the ultimate form of protection. Depending on your gender, you might want to wear lipstick, lip balm, lip gloss or Chapstick. Wear this regularly to help protect the lips from damage from the sun and exposure to the elements.

As part of your nightly regimen, put lip balm on before bed. This level of additional protection will keep your lips safe and unexposed. Never allow your lips to stay naked for too long if you want to avoid chapped lips.

What Causes Chapped Lips?
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