About all

Cause of extremely dry lips: 7 dermatologists’ tips for healing dry, chapped lips

7 dermatologists’ tips for healing dry, chapped lips

Diseases & conditions

  • Coronavirus Resource Center

  • Acne

  • Eczema

  • Hair loss

  • Psoriasis

  • Rosacea

  • Skin cancer

  • A to Z diseases

  • A to Z videos
  • DIY acne treatment
  • How dermatologists treat
  • Skin care: Acne-prone skin
  • Causes
  • Is it really acne?
  • Types & treatments
  • Childhood eczema
  • Adult eczema
  • Insider secrets
  • Types of hair loss
  • Treatment for hair loss
  • Causes of hair loss
  • Hair care matters
  • Insider secrets
  • What is psoriasis
  • Diagnosis & treatment
  • Skin, hair & nail care
  • Triggers
  • Insider secrets
  • What is rosacea
  • Treatment
  • Skin care & triggers
  • Insider secrets
  • Types and treatment
  • Find skin cancer
  • Prevent skin cancer
  • Raise awareness
  • Español

Reduce summertime rosacea flare-ups

The sun, heat, and humidity can all trigger rosacea and lead to flare-ups. Find out how you can enjoy summer while reducing flare-ups.

JAK inhibitors: A newer type of medication

JAK inhibitors are helping patients with alopecia areata, eczema/atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and vitiligo. Here’s what you need to know.

Everyday care

  • Skin care basics

  • Skin care secrets

  • Injured skin

  • Itchy skin

  • Sun protection

  • Hair & scalp care

  • Nail care secrets
  • Basic skin care
  • Dry, oily skin
  • Hair removal
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Anti-aging skin care
  • For your face
  • For your skin routine
  • Preventing skin problems
  • Bites & stings
  • Burns, cuts, & other wounds
  • Itch relief
  • Poison ivy, oak & sumac
  • Rashes
  • Shade, clothing, and sunscreen
  • Sun damage and your skin
  • Aprenda a proteger su piel del sol
  • Your hair
  • Your scalp
  • Nail care basics
  • Manicures & pedicures

Practice Safe Sun

Everyone’s at risk for skin cancer. These dermatologists’ tips tell you how to protect your skin.

Relieve uncontrollably itchy skin

Find out what may be causing the itch and what can bring relief.

Darker Skin Tones

  • Skin care secrets

  • Hair care

  • Hair loss

  • Diseases & Conditions
  • Acne
  • Dark spots
  • Dry skin
  • Light spots
  • Razor bumps
  • Caring for Black hair
  • Scalp psoriasis
  • Weaves & extensions
  • Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia
  • Frontal fibrosing alopecia
  • Hairstyles that pull can cause hair loss
  • Acanthosis nigricans
  • Acne keloidalis nuchae
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa
  • Keloid scars
  • Lupus and your skin
  • Sarcoidosis and your skin
  • Skin cancer
  • Vitiligo
  • More diseases & conditions

Fade dark spots

Find out why dark spots appear and what can fade them.

Untreatable razor bumps or acne?

If you have what feels like razor bumps or acne on the back of your neck or scalp, you may have acne keloidalis nuchae. Find out what can help.

Cosmetic treatments

  • Your safety

  • Age spots & dark marks

  • Cellulite & fat removal

  • Hair removal

  • Scars & stretch marks

  • Wrinkles

  • Younger-looking skin

Laser hair removal

You can expect permanent results in all but one area. Do you know which one?

Scar treatment

If you want to diminish a noticeable scar, know these 10 things before having laser treatment.


It can smooth out deep wrinkles and lines, but the results aren’t permanent. Here’s how long botox tends to last.

Public health programs

  • Skin cancer awareness

  • Free skin cancer screenings

  • Kids’ camp

  • Good Skin Knowledge

  • Shade Structure grants

  • Skin Cancer, Take a Hike!™

  • Awareness campaigns

  • Flyers & posters

  • Get involved
  • Lesson plans and activities
  • Community grants

Free materials to help raise skin cancer awareness

Use these professionally produced online infographics, posters, and videos to help others find and prevent skin cancer.

Dermatologist-approved lesson plans, activities you can use

Free to everyone, these materials teach young people about common skin conditions, which can prevent misunderstanding and bullying.

Find a dermatologist

  • Find a dermatologist

  • What is a dermatologist?

  • FAAD: What it means

  • How to select a dermatologist

  • Your digital health

  • Prior authorization

  • Dermatologists team up to improve patient care
  • Finding accurate health information
  • Health apps
  • Wearable medical devices
  • Telemedicine
  • Protect your information

Find a Dermatologist

You can search by location, condition, and procedure to find the dermatologist that’s right for you.

What is a dermatologist?

A dermatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating the skin, hair, and nails. Dermatologists care for people of all ages.

Symptoms, Causes, and Risk Factors

Chapped Lips: Symptoms, Causes, and Risk Factors

  • Health Conditions
    • Featured
      • Breast Cancer
      • IBD
      • Migraine
      • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
      • Rheumatoid Arthritis
      • Type 2 Diabetes
    • Articles
      • Acid Reflux
      • ADHD
      • Allergies
      • Alzheimer’s & Dementia
      • Bipolar Disorder
      • Cancer
      • Crohn’s Disease
      • Chronic Pain
      • Cold & Flu
      • COPD
      • Depression
      • Fibromyalgia
      • Heart Disease
      • High Cholesterol
      • HIV
      • Hypertension
      • IPF
      • Osteoarthritis
      • Psoriasis
      • Skin Disorders and Care
      • STDs
  • Discover
    • Wellness Topics
      • Nutrition
      • Fitness
      • Skin Care
      • Sexual Health
      • Women’s Health
      • Mental Well-Being
      • Sleep
    • Product Reviews
      • Vitamins & Supplements
      • Sleep
      • Mental Health
      • Nutrition
      • At-Home Testing
      • CBD
      • Men’s Health
    • Original Series
      • Fresh Food Fast
      • Diagnosis Diaries
      • You’re Not Alone
      • Present Tense
    • Video Series
      • Youth in Focus
      • Healthy Harvest
      • No More Silence
      • Future of Health
  • Plan
    • Health Challenges
      • Mindful Eating
      • Sugar Savvy
      • Move Your Body
      • Gut Health
      • Mood Foods
      • Align Your Spine
    • Find Care
      • Primary Care
      • Mental Health
      • OB-GYN
      • Dermatologists
      • Neurologists
      • Cardiologists
      • Orthopedists
    • Lifestyle Quizzes
      • Weight Management
      • Am I Depressed? A Quiz for Teens
      • Are You a Workaholic?
      • How Well Do You Sleep?
    • Tools & Resources
      • Health News
      • Find a Diet
      • Find Healthy Snacks
      • Drugs A-Z
      • Health A-Z
  • Connect
      • Breast Cancer
      • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
      • Psoriatic Arthritis
      • Migraine
      • Multiple Sclerosis
      • Psoriasis

Medically reviewed by Christine Frank, DDS — By Kristeen Moore — Updated on April 25, 2023

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission Here’s our process.

Healthline only shows you brands and products that we stand behind.

Our team thoroughly researches and evaluates the recommendations we make on our site. To establish that the product manufacturers addressed safety and efficacy standards, we:

  • Evaluate ingredients and composition: Do they have the potential to cause harm?
  • Fact-check all health claims: Do they align with the current body of scientific evidence?
  • Assess the brand: Does it operate with integrity and adhere to industry best practices?

We do the research so you can find trusted products for your health and wellness.

Read more about our vetting process.

Was this helpful?

Cracked lips can occur more often when the weather is dry. Hydrating and using a humidifier may help. You can also get chapped lips due to other causes, such as dehydration and vitamin deficiencies.

Chapped, or cracked, lips is the term commonly used to describe dry lips. Chapped lips can be caused by several factors, that include:

  • weather
  • excessive licking of the lips
  • certain medications

Chapped lips are a common condition that only occurs for most people. But some people may develop a more severe form of chapped lips called cheilitis. Cheilitis can be caused by an infection, characterized by cracked skin at the corners of the lips.

You can usually treat dry lips with simple treatment and preventive measures. If your lips continue to be severely dry and cracked, you should consider make an appointment with a dermatologist.

You may experience any of the following symptoms on or around your lips:

  • dryness
  • flaking
  • scales
  • sores
  • swelling
  • cracks
  • bleeding

Lips don’t contain oil glands like other parts of the skin. This means lips are more susceptible to drying out and becoming chapped (cracked). Lack of moisture can make the problem worse, whether it’s weather-induced or related to a lack of self-care.

Little humidity in the air during the winter months is known to cause chapped lips. Frequent sun exposure in the summer can also worsen your condition.

Another common cause of chapped lips is habitual licking. Saliva from the tongue can further strip the lips of moisture, causing more dryness.

Everyone can get chapped lips, particularly if they have dry skin.

Taking certain medications can also increase your risk of developing chapped lips. Medications and supplements that can cause chapped lips include:

  • vitamin A
  • retinoids (Retin-A, Differin)
  • lithium (commonly used to treat bipolar disorder)
  • chemotherapy drugs

People who are dehydrated or malnourished are also more likely to have chapped lips than other people. Call your doctor if either of these are associated with your chapped lips—dehydration and malnutrition are both serious conditions that require immediate medical attention.


If the severe dryness and cracking doesn’t improve with self-care, you should see a dermatologist. Cheilitis is often to blame for severely chapped lips. This is a condition marked by cracked skin at the mouth corners and several cracks on your lips.

If you have this condition, your lips may:

  • be dark pink or red in color
  • have a lumpy texture
  • develop ulcers
  • have white plaques on the surface

Cheilitis is often attributed to infections and inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn’s disease. Dental trauma and excessive saliva production may also turn a regular case of chapped lips into cheilitis. Bacteria can enter through the cracks and cause infection. Adults and children who have orthodontic braces, wear dentures, or use pacifiers are all susceptible to developing cheilitis.

A dermatologist can determine whether your dry lips are simply chapped or if you have cheilitis.

Dehydration and malnutrition

Dry lips can also be caused by dehydration or malnutrition. Dehydration causes symptoms including:

  • lightheadedness
  • constipation
  • decreased urine production
  • dry mouth
  • headache

In severe cases, a person suffering from dehydration may experience low blood pressure, fever, rapid breathing, or a rapid heartbeat.

Malnutrition is characterized by many of the same symptoms as dehydration. Additional symptoms can include:

  • muscle weakness
  • decaying teeth
  • bloated stomach
  • bone fragility

Malnutrition can be caused by vitamin deficiencies, so those on limited diets (for example, vegetarians) need to make sure that they are getting enough of the vitamins they need.

People with alcohol addiction are also more susceptible to malnutrition due to vitamin deficiencies because excessive alcohol use can interfere with the body’s vitamin absorption. Older adults are also at higher risk for malnutrition because decreased appetite is common.

If you suspect you are dehydrated or malnourished, see your doctor right away.

Chapped lips can usually be treated at home. The first step is to make sure that your lips have enough moisture. This can be accomplished by:

  • applying lip balm throughout the day
  • drinking more water
  • using a humidifier at home
  • avoiding cold weather conditions or wrapping your mouth with a scarf

Sun exposure can also cause chapped lips, especially as you age. Apply a lip balm that contains a minimum SPF 15 before heading outdoors. The balm helps to moisturize the lips and the sunscreen minimizes further drying effects.

Last medically reviewed on December 11, 2017

How we reviewed this article:

Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Dehydration: Definition.
  • Devani A. (2007, June). Answer: Can you identify this condition?
  • Gibson LE. (2016). Chapped lips: What’s the best remedy?

Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

Apr 25, 2023

Written By

Kristeen Moore

Edited By

Heather Hobbs

Dec 11, 2017

Medically Reviewed By

Christine Frank, DDS

Share this article

Medically reviewed by Christine Frank, DDS — By Kristeen Moore — Updated on April 25, 2023

Read this next

  • How to Get Rid of Chapped Lips

    Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP

    Because your lips don’t contain oil glands, like the rest of your skin, they’re prone to drying out. So how can you prevent dryness in the first place?


  • The Only Soft Lip Hack Anyone Ever Needs for Life

    There’s one foolproof way to get softer lips and it’s ridiculously cheap. We show you how to get glossy, magazine-cover-worthy lips in 30 seconds and…


  • How to Use Coconut Oil for Chapped, Dry Lips

    Medically reviewed by Karen Cross, FNP, MSN

    Using coconut oil on lips can be an excellent way to provide extra moisture and shine. You can also create a mask to use overnight to bring further…


  • 11 Ways to Plump, Smooth, and Gloss Your Lips

    Medically reviewed by Carissa Stephens, R.N., CCRN, CPN

    The desire for plump lips isn’t just about thickness, it’s about hydration, health, and smoothness. Whether you’re looking for a quick fix before the…


  • 14 Ways to Get Healthy-Looking Lips

    Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN

    Taking care of your lips will help them become hydrated and healthy. For some people, that will mean a pink color, but others may have a darker tone…


  • Lime and Sun Don’t Always Mix: Beware the ‘Margarita Burn’ This Summer

    Margarita burn is a skin reaction that occurs when lime juice makes contact with the skin and is exposed to sunlight. Most reactions from margarita…


  • What Is Panniculitis and How Is It Treated?

    Panniculitis is a group of conditions that cause painful bumps (nodules) to form under your skin, often on your legs and feet. Learn more.


  • Urticaria Pigmentosa

    Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP

    Urticaria pigmentosa is a skin condition that causes lesions and itchy skin. This disease is most common in infants and children, but adults may be…


  • What Causes Dark Knuckles and How Can You Treat Them?

    Medically reviewed by Shilpa Amin, M.D., CAQ, FAAFP

    Dark knuckles can be caused by different skin conditions, medical conditions, genetics, and more. Learn more about the causes, treatments, and natural…


  • Sunburned Eyelids: What You Should Know

    Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP

    You don’t need to be on the beach for sunburned eyelids to occur. Any time you’re outside in the sun for a prolonged period of time with your skin…


8 causes and what to do about dryness


  • Causes of dry lips
  • Lip care features
  • Precautions
  • Vitamins for dry lips
  • Lip care product overview

Causes of dry lips

Lips are a zone of increased vulnerability. Thin skin is devoid of fatty tissue, prone to premature aging and quickly responds to changes in the state of the body and external conditions.

“There are many reasons for dry lips, but the main one is weather conditions. For example, cold wind or sudden changes in temperature.

Dry lips can be caused by many factors.

  • Sunburn. In the summer, we don’t even notice that the skin of our lips receives hefty doses of ultraviolet radiation.

  • Great thirst. You can check for yourself: coffee drinkers who drink little water and a lot of cappuccino have chapped lips.

  • Increased body temperature during illness. It is no coincidence that the most famous recommendation of doctors is to drink as much water as possible when you feel unwell.

  • Intoxication of the body. During poisoning, the body experiences an acute shortage of moisture, which cannot but affect the condition of the skin of the lips.

  • Strong stress and habit of licking lips. Without noticing it, we provoke dryness by licking or biting our lips.

  • Allergy to cosmetics. The reaction to the lipstick that is not suitable for you will not be slow to manifest itself in the form of peeling of the skin of the lips.

  • Lack of vitamins. Rigid diets, vegetarianism and other reasons for the rejection of animal products rich in fat-soluble vitamins do not affect the condition of the skin of the lips in the best way.

  • Bad habits. Constant contact with an absorbent cigarette filter deprives lip tissue of already deficient lipids.

“Dry lips can be a symptom of a serious condition. For example, the only sign of early stage diabetes or kidney disease. If neither lip balm nor taking vitamin E helps, immediately see a doctor,” warns Ekaterina Turubara, Vichy medical expert .

Causes of dry lips include weather, UV radiation, bad habits, diseases © iStock

Signs of dry lips:

  1. 1

    feeling of tightness and sensation of heat;

  2. 2


  3. 3


  4. 4

    cracks on the lips and “zaed” in the corners of the lips.

Take our test to see if your skin is getting enough moisture.

@Getty Images

Take the test

Back to index

Lip care tips

To keep your lips soft, smooth and well hydrated, you need to take care of them.

Regular exfoliation

Now there are special scrubs for lips. But even if such a remedy is not at hand, honey or a damp thick towel will do.

To avoid injury to the delicate skin of the lips, do not apply too much pressure when applying the product.

Moisturizing and nourishing

In the composition of balms, hygienic lipsticks and creams for very dry lips, look not for Vaseline (it is appropriate only in a protective product), but for waxes. The best of them are vegetable: unlike bee, they rarely cause allergic reactions. Also useful are natural oils and vitamins, especially fat-soluble ones (E, F, provitamin A). In summer, the SPF factor becomes an essential component.

Lip balm should always be at hand: in your purse, desk drawer, in the bathroom.

Decorative lipsticks, even with precious exotic plant extracts, are not lip care products. Before lipstick, you need to apply a nourishing balm, especially if the lipstick has a matte finish.

Balanced drinking regimen and proper nutrition

Drink plenty of clean water and add foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish, nuts, vegetable oils) to your diet.

Back to the Table of Contents


Some preventive measures will help you avoid dry lips. All recommendations start with NOT. What can’t be done?

  • Remove make-up from lips with soap or a tissue. To do this, use special products labeled “for removing makeup from the eyes and lips.”

  • Use long-lasting lipstick in severe frost. This is a direct road to dryness and flaking.

  • Smoking. Cigarette smoke dries out the thin skin of the lips, and the mimicry of the lip area when smoking provokes the appearance of purse-string wrinkles around the mouth.

  • Going outside in cold weather without protective balm.

  • Ignore lip cosmetics with SPF in summer (especially during beach holidays).

Exfoliate your lips regularly with a scrub © iStock

Back to the top

Vitamins against dry lips

Speaking of dry lips, it would be wrong to say that the cause of this condition lies in the inevitable seasonal lack of vitamins. Shops and farmers’ markets sell foods rich in vitamins and minerals throughout the year.

Nevertheless, beriberi is a phenomenon familiar to many. Usually encountered:

  • vegans and vegetarians;

  • 90,002 people on strict weight loss diets;

  • people with diseases of the digestive system.

“Integumentary tissues, including those of the lips, are nourished according to the residual principle, because the body first distributes nutrients between the internal organs,” explains Ekaterina Turubara. “So the skin and hair are the first to suffer from beriberi.”

In the same way, the intake of dietary supplements will first fill the needs of the internal organs, and only after a few months the nutrients will reach the epidermis.”

Manufacturers of vitamins understand this and honestly warn that it is necessary to wait for the result after a few months of taking it, and not after the first capsule. If the skin has become dry and grayish, first pay attention to pharmaceutical preparations containing vitamins A, E, D and F.

L’Oréal Paris

Enriched with hyaluronic acid extract, antioxidants and vitamin E, this formula moisturizes and protects lips from chapping.

Lip Gloss Paradise, L’Oréal Paris

Intensely moisturizes throughout the day, stimulates collagen synthesis, increases lip volume.

Moisturizing and nourishing balms

Cicaplast Lip Balm, La Roche-Posay

Heals chapped lips and relieves irritation in the mouth area thanks to panthenol MP-lipids. Suitable for both adults and children.

Nutritic Levres Nourishing Lip Balm, La Roche-Posay

Stick balm with lipids and ceramides fights against the signs of aging, reducing wrinkles, softening and moisturizing the skin of the lips.

Back to index

Why do lips dry?

Dryness and flaking of the lips is an embarrassing and unpleasant defect that causes constant discomfort. It is difficult to enjoy communication when it hurts to laugh and talk.

Moreover, discomfort can be exacerbated at the most inopportune moment: during walks, while eating. Of course, you can moisturize your lips with cosmetics around the clock to relieve soreness, but this is only a temporary solution that does not eliminate the problem itself.

We advise you to understand the reasons that cause dry lips in you and to address them. And in order for the skin of the lips to recover sooner, you can use the recommendations and help of our cosmetologists.

Causes of dry lips

First of all pay attention to your diet . Lack of healthy fats, deficiency of vitamins and microelements in the diet can cause cracks in the corners of the lips, cause dry skin. Add nuts, avocados, red fish and butter to your diet – these foods are rich in healthy fats. To compensate for the deficiency of vitamins and trace elements, drink a course of multivitamins.

Not only nutritional deficiencies cause dry lips. The correct drinking regime is also important , as well as what kind of water you drink. Peeling of the delicate skin of the lips can occur if you abuse soft drinks or drink little water. In this case, just drink enough and preferably warm water. A glass of warm water with honey and lemon is a great start to the day. Start with this ritual every morning and you will quickly notice an improvement.

If food and drinking regimen is in order, analyze the microclimate in rooms where you spend the most time (at work and at home, for example). The air in the rooms should not be too dry. If the humidity is low, use humidifiers to bring it back to normal. Sufficiently humidified air not only favorably affects the condition of the skin, but also protects the mucous membranes from viruses.

Finally, dryness of the lips can cause a tendency to constantly lick the lips. This habit interferes especially strongly in cold weather in autumn and winter. Because of it, peeling first occurs, and then dry crusts may appear, which in no case need to be torn off or touched by hands.

Hydrafacial and gentle exfoliation with UltraCeuticals

To cope with the peeling of sensitive lips, we recommend using professional medical cosmetics from the Australian brand UltraCeuticals.

All brand cosmetics are distinguished by a high concentration of nutrients and vitamins (A, B, C, etc.). In addition, the method of delivering these nutrients to the layers of the dermis is also unique. The UltraCeuticals line includes products for both gentle, painless exfoliation and deep nourishment for damaged skin.