Most of the time dry lips are just that -- lips that have lost moisture because of dehydration, too much wind or too much sun. Occasionally, however, dry lips may signal a more serious condition. When a health problem exists, dry or cracked lips could be one of many symptoms.
For example, if dry lips are accompanied by a fever, red eyes and tongue, swollen lymph nodes, and swollen, red skin on your hands and feet, they could be an early symptom of Kawasaki disease [source: Mayo Clinic]. This disease is most common in young children between the ages of 2 and 5, but doctors aren't quite sure what causes it. Even though children typically see a full recovery, heart problems can result.
Dry, cracked lips have also been associated with a deficiency of certain B vitamins. For example, although it is not a typical symptom, cracked lips (especially at the corners) can sometimes signal a folic acid deficiency [source: WebMD]. They also can be a symptom of a riboflavin (vitamin B2) deficiency. Those at risk for this condition include people who are elderly or have a chronic illness or alcohol dependence. A riboflavin deficiency can typically be remedied with a balanced, healthy diet or a vitamin supplement [source: Mayo Clinic].
For more information about dry lips , read Dry Lips: Fast Facts.
Only a medical professional can determine whether dry lips are a symptom of an underlying health condition. Being aware of dry lips that won't heal and additional symptoms is important. Often catching a serious ailment early on can be beneficial in the healing process. Consult your doctor if you are concerned about your dry lips.
Check the links below for further information about dry lips.
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- Mayo Clinic. "Kawasaki Disease." Feb. 3, 2009 (Accessed Oct. 3, 2009)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kawasaki-disease/DS00576
- Mayo Clinic. "Riboflavin (vitamin B2)." Sept. 1, 2009 (Accessed Oct. 3, 2009) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-B2/NS_patient-riboflavin
- WebMD. "Folic Acid Deficiency Anemia." March 8, 2005 (Accessed Oct. 3, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/folic-acid-deficiency-anemia-symptoms