If puckering is painful and pursing is too much to bear, you're probably suffering from chapped lips. Harsh winter weather, dry heated air indoors, and a habit of constantly licking your lips can all help dry out the skin of your lips by causing the moisture in them to evaporate. The result is rough, cracked, sensitive lips that leave you little to smile about.
Protecting your lips from chapping is not only important for appearance and comfort, but for health. Cold sores, bacterial infections, and other problems are more likely to strike lips that are already damaged by chapping. In this article, we'll recommend home remedies to avoid other people giving you lip about any chapping problems.
Here's what you can do to keep your lips soft and moist:
Don't lick your lips. It may make your lips feel better temporarily, but you'll be making matters worse. Licking your lips has the same drying effect as constantly washing your hands; the repeated exposure to water actually robs moisture from the skin, causing it to become dry.
Use a lip balm. Numerous products are available over the counter. Pick one that you like so you'll use it frequently. Most lip balms are waxy or greasy and work by sealing in moisture with a protective barrier. Plain old petroleum jelly works just fine, too.
Screen out the sun. The sun's ultraviolet rays can damage and dry the sensitive skin on your lips in the same way they can harm the skin on other parts of your body. Indeed, the lips are a common site for skin cancer, since they don't contain melanin, a pigment (coloring) that helps protect skin from ultraviolet rays. Certain skin cancers that appear on the lips may be more serious and more likely to spread, too, so if you'll be out in the sun, use a lip balm that contains sunscreen. Choose a product that has an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher.
Wear lipstick. OK, this advice may apply only to female readers. But dermatologists say older women are less likely than older men to have skin damage on their kissers, especially on the lower lips, and lipstick may be the reason. Lipstick appears to offer moderately effective protection against the sun's ultraviolet rays, and these days you can purchase lipstick that includes sunscreen, for even greater protection. Lipstick acts as a moisturizer, too.
Check out your toothpaste. You might want to consider whether an allergy to your toothpaste or mouthwash could be to blame for the rough, red skin on your lips. Try switching brands of toothpaste and skipping the mouthwash for a few days to see if the problem clears. Also, rinse well after brushing.
Watch what passes between them. When lips are chapped, they're more sensitive, and certain foods can irritate them. Hold off on pepper, mustard, barbecue sauce, orange juice, and alcoholic beverages to give your lips a break as they heal.
Remembering these home remedies will keep you smiling about how your lips look.