How to Heal Chapped Lips

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to chat with one of my favorite NYC dermatologists Dr. Joshua Zeichner. Dr. Zeichner, Assistant Professor in the Dermatology Department at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan, is frequently called upon by the media and has been featured in AllureInStyle, and Health, among others. Topic of our conversation? Chapped lips - one of the worst things to happen during the frigid winter months. 

Here is what he had to say!

What is the cause of chapped lips?

Normal oil produced by the lips to keep them hydrated and protected gets washed away from licking and cold weather, causing chapped lips. Sometimes irritated lips are caused by an allergy or irritation.

Is it bad to keep picking off the chapped skin?

Don’t pick dead skin cells because often you pull off more than you mean to, leading to raw skin on your lips.

Are chapped lips a sign of something more serious?

Usually not, but extremely chapped lips can lead to inflammation of the lips and surrounding skin.

In older patients with chronic chapped lips, especially of the lower lip, it could represent a condition called actinic cheilitis, which is sun damage to skin cells on the lips. It could also represent an allergy.

Are there certain ingredients to look for in a lip balm? I’ve heard that lip balms have ingredients that can be addicting and they actually dry your lips. Is that true?

It is important to avoid camphor, menthol, and salicylic acid, which can be contained in some lip balms. They can cause irritation giving you a dry sensation that needs more lip balm.

Is Vaseline still the tried and true?

Vaseline contains white petrolatum, which is a great occlusive moisturizer that hydrates the skin.

Are they any at-home DIY solutions?

Use your humidifier in the evening when you sleep to help put moisture in the air.  Also, if you are a mouth breather make sure to put Vaseline on your lips before bed to help prevent drying out the lips when you sleep.

Any last words?

Always use a lip balm with sunscreen!