Does eating your favorite spicy snack turn out to be a painful experience every time due to your cracked lips? Chapped lips can make you uncomfortable, causing a stingy and burning sensation in your lips.
Though chapped lips most commonly happen in the winter, it can occur to anyone at any time of the year if your lips are not taken care of.
In this article, we tell you what causes chapped lips, how you can treat them, and the necessary precautions you should take to prevent chapped lips.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
‘’As per Ayurveda, chapped lips can be correlated to Vataja Oshtakopa, caused due to the aggravation of Vata dosha in your body.’’
-Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
Causes Of Chapped Lips
“In Ayurveda, the condition of chapped lips is categorized under 'Oshtagata Rogas/ Oshtaprakopa' (a set of lip-related diseases). As per Ayurveda, chapped lips can be correlated to Vataja Oshtakopa, caused due to the aggravation of Vata dosha in your body. Chapped lips are more common among people who have dry skin caused by elevated Vata levels,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
Unlike other parts of your skin, your lips do not contain oil glands. On top of that, certain factors cause moisture loss in your lips, which makes them dry out, resulting in cracked or chapped lips.
Some of such common factors that cause aggravated Vata dosha and result in chapped lips include:
- Dry weather conditions and dry indoor air with little humidity.
- Malnourishment  due to the deficiency of nutrients such as iron, zinc, B-vitamins, etc. in the body.
- Using harsh lip products that contain drying ingredients such as salicylic acid, menthol, camphor, etc.
- Picking and biting your lips frequently.
- Habit of licking your lips excessively.
- Certain medications which include lithium, retinoids, vitamin-A, etc. and chemotherapy drugs.
- Dehydration  due to insufficient water intake.
- Overexposure to the sun.
- Holding certain metal objects with your lips.
If left untreated, chapped lips can further develop into a severe form of a bacterial infection called Cheilitis. Hence it is important to identify the underlying cause to treat it on time.
Melanin protects the skin from the radiation of the sun. However, lips do not contain melanocytes, the cells which produce melanin pigment. Hence, they are more susceptible to frequent sunburns.
Symptoms Of Chapped Lips
- Peeling or flaking
- Burning or tingling sensation
However, when you have Cheilitis, your lips become dark red and lumpy. You may also notice deep cracks and ulcers at your lip corners. Sometimes, a white plaque is formed on your lip surface. An experienced dermatologist can easily identify whether you have chapped lips or cheilitis by conducting a physical examination.
How To Get Rid Of Chapped Lips?
1. Ayurvedic Treatments
To treat chapped lips, your Ayurvedic doctor may suggest you the following line of treatments which are performed clinically:
A. Massaging With Fats
Ayurveda recommends massaging the chapped lips with four types of fats: oil, ghee, bone marrow, and muscle fat, which are combined with bee wax.
“You can also use Madhyyashtyadi taila or any oil processed with Vata dosha-alleviating herbs such as yashtimadhu, water lily, sarala, devadaru, jyotishmati, etc., to massage your lips,” says Dr. Zeel.
B. Nadi Sweda
It is the process of tubular fomentation. Nadi Sweda involves providing herbal steam to your lips. The vapors of boiling herbal decoction are sent from the tube and directed to your lips. You can use the vapors of boiling milk with castor plant leaves in it for steaming your chapped lips.
C. Shalvana Sweda
It is the process of herbal poultice fomentation. To perform Shalvana Sweda, a warm herbal paste prepared from Vata pacifying herbs, fats, and excessive salts is applied on your chapped lips and bandaged.
D. Nasya Kriya
In this process, Vata dosha-alleviating oils are administered into your nasal passage .
E. Herbal Exfoliation
Your lips are rubbed and exfoliated with medicated herbal powders such as Shreeveshtakadi churna.
F. Application Of Herbal Ointment
A medicated lip ointment is prepared by adding ghee, oil, alpinia galanga, sal tree resins, red ochre, rock salt, and jaggery to the wax. All the ingredients are cooked together well and applied to the chapped lips.
Dr. Zeel mentions, “You can also apply ghee or oil prepared from jaggery, sal tree resins, and wax on your lips.”
2. Natural Home Remedies
- Aloe vera  rehydrates and soothes your chapped lips. Apply freshly extracted aloe vera gel to your chapped lips twice a day.
- Honey helps in moisturizing and preventing infections on your chapped lips. Apply raw honey on your lips twice a day.
- Green tea helps to reduce the inflammation in chapped lips. Soak a green tea bag in warm water for 5 minutes and rub it over your lips gently.
- Cucumber provides nourishment and hydration to your dry lips. Apply freshly extracted cucumber juice twice a day to heal your chapped lips.
- Coconut oil helps to fight inflammation and impart soft texture to your chapped lips. Massage your lips with warm coconut oil daily before going to bed.
3. Use A Good Lip Balm
- Always use a good lip balm that can shield your delicate lips from the external elements in the environment.
- Your lip balm should contain high levels of emollients. Ingredients such as petroleum jelly, ceramides, lanolin, beeswax, and dimethicone in lip balms help to lock the moisture and seal off the cracks of your drying lips.
- Avoid using lip balms that contain drying ingredients such as phenol, menthol, or camphor.
- Also, choose a lip balm that comes with a broad spectrum of UV protection with a minimum SPF30.
4. Exfoliate Your Lips
Your chapped lips feel rough and tend to peel off. You need to gently exfoliate the dead skin on the chapped lips once or twice a week to boost the healing process. Use natural lip scrubs made of sugar or baking soda for exfoliation. Be sure to follow this with a hydrating moisturizer.
You need to use a good moisturizer for your chapped lips to prevent them from drying out further. Thick moisturizers made of petroleum jelly, coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, titanium oxide, zinc oxide, mineral oils, castor seed oil, hemp seed oil, etc. are good options for chapped lips. Apply the moisturizer on your chapped lips twice a day.
6. Avoid Smoking
The tobacco in cigarettes can irritate, cause dryness and cracks on the sensitive skin of your lips. Also, smoking can lead to other conditions such as gum pain, mouth ulcers, etc., which can worsen the chapped lips. Hence, you need to completely avoid smoking to heal your chapped lips quickly.
7. Drink Adequate Water
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of chapped lips. It may be difficult for you to notice when you are slightly dehydrated and hence, it is always better to make a habit of consuming sufficient water throughout the day. In general, it is recommended to drink around 2.5 -3 liters of water daily for adults to stay hydrated.
8. Medical Topical Treatments
Your dermatologist may prescribe topical corticosteroids, antifungal medication, and antibiotics based on the severity levels to treat your chapped lips.
9. Use A Humidifier
You can use a humidifier indoors, especially during winter to heal your chapped lips faster. Humidifiers help you maintain sufficient moisture in your lips.
How Do You Avoid Chapped Lips?
Here are some of the preventive tips to keep your lips safe and avoid chapped lips.
1. Stay away from flavored lip balms as they can tempt you to lick your lips constantly, which in turn can lead to chapped lips.
2. It's recommended to reapply the lip balm every few hours throughout the day.
3. You should wear a ski mask or a scarf that can cover your mouth region when you go out, especially in cold weather.
4. Avoid licking your lips frequently as the drying saliva causes chapped lips.
5. Your lip skin is very delicate and thin. So, you should not bite or peel off the flaky lip skin as it can cause irritation and bleeding. Picking at chapped lips can also slow down the healing process.
6. Do not over-exfoliate your lips.
7. Stay away from any products or cosmetics that contain allergens as they may irritate your sensitive lips.
8. Breathing through the mouth can dry out your lips quickly. Hence, avoid doing that frequently.
Vedix Tip: Always apply the lip balm or ointment before you put on the lipstick or lip gloss.
Please consult your doctor or Ayurvedic practitioner to administer the clinical treatments mentioned in this article.
The Last Word
If your chapped lips do not heal despite using lip balms and trying home treatments regularly, then it may be an indication of a more serious ailment or infection such as actinic cheilitis, a precancerous condition. Hence, you need to see a doctor immediately if the chapped lips persist for a long time and take necessary precautions.
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