With the harsh winter weather outdoors and high central heating indoors, even the softest of lips can soon dry out. There are plenty of cheap and free ways to take care of your lips inside and out. Just don’t chew your chapped, flaky lips – it makes a skin baby will grow inside you and burst out when you least expect it. The lips are a sensitive, unusual area that require special care to remain healthy. Often neglected, the lips can easily become chapped, leading to peeling dry skin, bleeding, and quite a bit of pain. Learning to treat and care for the lips will help to avoid these unpleasant conditions from occuring. The Lips are Unique As the transition state between the facial skin and the mouth, the lips have some very unique characteristsics about them. They do not contain oil or sweat glands, hair follicles, or pignment. Lips appear red because the thin layers of skin (only 3 to 5) allow the blood vessels to show through to the surface. An abundance of nerve endings make the lips sensitive to touch, warmth and cold.

Why Lips Chap

Chapped lips, a winter-time norm for some, are characterized by “peeling of the thin lip skin, cracking hat leads to bleeding, soreness, inflammation and tendereness of the lips, and a burning sensation” (according to the article “Chapped Lip Problem”, Healthy Skincare). In some cases, the cracking can lead to infection and require an antibiotic ointment to heal properly

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Because lips lack the ability to produce their own moisture and the barrier required to seal moisture in, environmental changes and habits can easily contribute to dried-out, flaky, chapped lips (see: “Lip Chapping”, Mother Nature). Healthy Skincare (see above) lists numerous factors that can lead to chapped lips:

  • Mouth breathing, either as a habit or because of a cold, leads to dried-out lips. People who breathe through their mouths while sleeping will notice increased dryness in the morning.
  • Licking of the lips, although it temporarily soothes the lips, introduces digestive enzymes from the saliva to the sensitive lip skin. Once the moisture evaporates, it takes any protective, natural oils from the lips with it, leaving the lips drier than before.
  • Biting or sucking the lips.
  • Environmental exposure, such as the sun or the wind or low humidity (as with internal heating systems) will dry out the lips quickly.
  • Overuse of exfoliators can strip too much skin and moisture from the lips.
  • Smoking.
  • Allergic reactions to cosmetics used on the lips.

How to Cure Chapping

Avoiding the above habits and applying a regular moisture to the lips will prevent chapping in the first place, but once they’re chapped, relief can be found in other ways. Using a cool saltwater compress or followed by a lip balm containing waxes, shea butter of lanolin will help if done daily until lips heal. Instead of picking at the dead, flaking skin on the lips, which can lead to more bleeding, exfoliate the skin away with a warm wash cloth rubbed gently across the mouth. Apply a balm immediately afterward.

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For extremely cracked lips, something stronger and more emolient, like an over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone ointment might be useful. Changing lipsticks, not smoking, and apply a balm instead of licking can all aid the process as well.

Natural Cures

A number of natural, home-made remedies will also help protect and heal the lips. Many can be made easily and at low cost (Chapped Lip):

Cream of milk with a few drops of rose water and lime juice added.

Cocoa butter.

Honey, which draws moisture to the lips and keeps them from drying out.

Vegetable glycerin mixed with vitamin E or wheat germ oil.

Papaya (mashed into a paste) applied to the lips and surrounding skin for 10 to 15 minutes. Risnse off and apply a lip balm. The papaya contains enzymes that will gently exfoliate the dead skin on the lips.