It’s a bummer. It’s a pain. It’s Chapped Lips!
You know the winds of autumn have appeared the moment you wake up with your first chapped lips of the season. They’re rough, peeling, red, cracked, sensitive, and let’s face it- NOT SEXY!
Sun, wind and cold weather are some of the harshest conditions for our lips. You may be surprised to learn however, that the effects seen on the outside are not always environmental. Chapped lips can also be attributed to dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, and numerous other conditions occurring inside of the body. Just another area that shows the world there’s an imbalance going on. Great. 😦
Before you run and grab your chap-stick (since once your lips are chapped, it does nothing), lets figure out the cause, and then fix it!
Licking your Lips: It may sound silly but individuals who lick their lips under stress, out of habit, or because their lips are already chapped, are often times, causing the problem, and adding to it. Since saliva contains enzymes used for digestion of food, this can cause irritation. In addition, evaporation of saliva on your lips removes natural oils, leaving them stripped and dry.
Exposure to the Elements: Weather and environment are the first to wreak havoc on unprotected lips. Wind, cold, prolonged sun exposure, and dry air, can all cause over-drying and chapping.
Allergies: Allergies both contact and seasonal may be to blame. When our nose is stuffed up we tend to breathe more through our mouth, without even realizing it. Constant flow of dry air = chapped lips. Other culprits include citrus juices, toothpaste, and products containing harsh detergents/chemicals. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a very common and inexpensive surfactant (foaming agent) used in TONS of products from toothpaste, skin care, and shampoos to engine degreasers and floor cleaners. What would engine degreasers and floor cleaners have to do with chapped lips!? Exactly. SLS is known to be a skin irritant and toxin. Excessively drying and stripping for our poor lips, to say the least. Check your chap-stick, lip balms, lip gloss, and lip stick for SLS… it may be part of the problem.
* MUCH more on SLS coming soon!
Dehydration: Salty foods, not drinking sufficient amounts of water, and alcohol all cause dehydration. When our bodies are deprived and/or lacking hydration, it will eventually show up on our lips.
Medications: Drugs used to treat conditions like anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure, for example, can often times cause chapped lips.
Skin Conditions: While not very common, skin conditions like Psoriasis can sometimes creep onto the lips and create a ‘chapped’ lip condition.
Health Conditions: Diabetes, Hypothyroidism, and Autoimmune Diseases like Lupus can all contribute to chronic chapped lips, as these conditions cause dry skin and lips.
Snoring: Surprised? Did you know that almost 50% of men are snorers!?! Women aren’t too far behind at almost 30%! Individuals who snore typically sleep with their mouths open. That constant flow of air dries your lips and creates chapping.
Protection is key. Use a daily lip cream with SPF to protect your lips from the environment and lock in moisture. Always having something on your lips like gloss or balm, like Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Lip Balm, will keep you from licking them. This goes for the GUYS as well! Invest in a matte (no shine) lip balm like Matte For Men Protective Lip Care or Anthony Logistics For Men Lip Balm. Its a hundred times better to be confronted about your ‘lip balm’ than crusty, chapped lips.
In addition, you can use a humidifier to moisten the air in your home, particularly during the winter or in dry climates. Not only will your lips love you, but your skin, hair, and nails will too!
Use an oil-based, emollient ointment… religiously! That means all day and overnight as well. Aquaphor Healing Ointment by Eucerin is a great one. I even use it on the baby. Good ol’ vaseline works like a charm too. If your lip balm is petroleum based, that’s good too, but when you’re trying to heal something, its better to just use 100% ointment, until the problem has cleared up.
If all else fails, you can step it up with cortisone. Add 1% hydrocortisone (over-the-counter) ointment to the above. Hydrocortisone applied first, then followed by an emollient listed above.
When all else fails… Olive Oil works WONDERS too!
Pucker up! 😉