Chapped, split or cracked lips are different names used to indicate dryness in that area.
It is a very common injury, since the lips are constantly exposed to aggressive external agents. Let’s see what you can do to take care of your lips and prevent chapping.
The skin is made up of three layers: the outer layer (epidermis), the underlying skin (dermis), and the subcutaneous tissue. If the outermost layer of the epidermis does not contain enough water, the skin will lose elasticity and feel rough.
Those responsible for preventing dehydration are the sebaceous glands, which synthesize sebum, a lipid substance that lubricates and protects the surface of the skin.
On the lips we can find sebaceous glands, although in less quantity than in the rest of the skin, so it is common for them to crack.
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Another reason for dry lips is that there is no melanin in that area, a pigment that, among other things, is responsible for protecting the skin against the effects of sunlight. Other factors that can cause chapped lips are:
- Feeding: when the diet is unbalanced or poor in nutrients that favor skin hydration, such as vitamins A, B and C, there is a greater risk that the effects of dehydration will be accentuated, including dry lips.
- Heating and air conditioners: both devices dry out the environment and, with it, the skin of the lips.
- temperature changes: both intense cold and heat cause a significant loss of water in the skin. This effect is more aggressive when temperature changes are abrupt or constant.
- To smoke: the contact of the cigarette with the lips favors cracking and irritation.
- Use of cosmetics: Using certain products, especially those that are not suitable for the lips, can cause irritation and dryness.
How to prevent chapped lips
Chapped lips are not a serious condition, but they can be very bothersome. Luckily, there are simple ways to prevent them from drying out:
Avoid licking your lips
Saliva evaporates quickly, leaving lips drier than before you swiped your tongue. Don’t lick your lips or control that habit, a good way to do this is to avoid flavored lip balm, which can tempt you to do it more often.
Try to avoid contact with irritants or allergens, such as fragrances or dyes. These are usually in cosmetic or skin care products. Check labels or consult a dermatologist to find the best options for your body.
To prevent lips from drying out, good hydration is key. Try to drink between 2 and 2 ½ liters of water a day, and moisten the air in your house, if it is very dry, with a humidifier.
Lubricants and protection
Before going out in cold, dry weather, apply a lubricating lip cream or balm that contains sunscreen. Remember to apply frequently while outdoors. It’s also a good idea to cover your lips with a scarf.
breathe through your nose
Breathing through your mouth can create an environment conducive for your lips to dry out, especially when you’re out in cold or dry weather.
How to treat dry lips
If your lips have already suffered from dehydration and chapping, you can try the following options to soothe the wounds and moisturize them:
Aloe vera or aloe vera is a plant widely recognized for its medicinal properties. Among them is accelerating the recovery of wounds caused by burns. This is possible thanks to the fact that it has acetylsalicylic acid, which provides an anesthetic and analgesic effect.
Its fluid also seems to attract blood flow to areas affected by injuries, so it can speed the recovery of chapped or injured lips.
How to use it: Cut an aloe vera leaf, open it in half and remove the acíbar, that is, the transparent juice or gel inside. Place the necessary amount on the lip area and let it absorb.
Milk is an excellent moisturizer not only when drunk, but when used topically.
Its nutrients, such as vitamins A and B, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and, fundamentally, calcium, help balance the pH. This is very useful to avoid dryness.
How to use it: A very popular home remedy consists of using cold milk and distributing it with a cotton ball over the affected area. This will provide quick relief (preventing you from scratching and making the injury worse) and will moisturize the skin on your lip in the long run.
Honey is a food rich in water, nutrients and proteins, so, in addition to being used for gastronomic purposes, it is also very useful to combat or treat many diseases, including dryness.
How to use it: You can take advantage of the moisturizing properties of honey by applying it directly to the lips and letting it act for 15 or 20 minutes. Another option is to prepare a moisturizer with honey and almond or olive oil (mixed in equal amounts).
Tomato is a great food to use for medicinal purposes, especially in skin care. This is because it has a significant amount of vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, minerals such as copper, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, fiber, antioxidant compounds, and a large percentage of water.
How to use it: use a cold tomato, previously reserved in the fridge. Cut it into slices, apply it on the lips, and let it act until you notice improvements. You can also mix or crush them to spread the preparation with cotton on the lips.
If the cracking of your lips is severe and does not respond to conventional treatment or home care, you should see your doctor.
Remember, although on rare occasions, persistent chapped lips can indicate an underlying problem.
Until there is meaningful scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should be very careful.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, talk to your doctor first about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Sources consulted: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.