5 Tips for Maintaining Healthy Lips


Hands Off

When it comes to our lips, we're our own worst enemy. A lot of our habits can lead to lip dryness, soreness and irritation.

Licking your lips feels great. It cools them down -- but it also makes your problem much worse. Your saliva evaporates quickly, leaving them drier than before, and the enzymes that help your saliva clean your mouth and digest food are much too harsh for your lips.

Avoid breathing with an open mouth. It's bad, and not just because it looks uncouth. Think of all the air being sucked and blown constantly over your poor lips as you gasp and pant, sapping moisture with every breath. Inhaling and exhaling through your nose will stop that harmful, desert-dry airflow.

Be a bit more discerning when it comes to sharing your lips, too. It might sound obvious, but don't kiss anyone with a sore or infection on the mouth or face. Viruses, fungi and bacteria can easily enter cracks in the lips' thin skin. And consider this: By age 50, nearly 90 percent of Americans have been exposed to herpes simplex 1 or 2, the viruses that cause cold sores [source: American Academy of Dermatology].

So, knowing when to keep your mouth sealed is a good first step toward healthy lips, but there's more to it. The next page has more lip tips.