We love when our readers and customers ask us their burning skin care and beauty questions! While our advice is never intended to replace the advice or professional opinion of a doctor, we are able to dig through our years of beauty experience to bring you great skin care tips and tricks.
Our latest featured question was asked via our Facebook by Pam M. Pam says, “For the last couple of months, I have had (and still have) the worst case of chapped lips I have ever had. I have tried raw coconut oil and every other thing I can think of (aloe gel fresh from the plant, raw cocoa butter, tea tree oil, etc.) along with my Raw Essentials daily routine. But my lips and the skin around them are dry, red and have only just finally healed in the corners from huge cracks.”
Well, Pam, it sounds like you have a very tricky case of chapped lips! Since you’ve already tried our go-to treatments (I thought coconut oil could cure anything!), I want to look at some of the rarer causes of chapped lips.
The following list includes “hidden” causes of chapped lips. The list may seem long and daunting, but the hope is that one or more of the possible causes listed here will trigger a realization. You may find that the on-again, off-again toothache you have is actually causing your cracked lips, or that your prescription medication is causing a reaction seen only on your lips.
Once again, I want to reiterate that our skin care advice is in no way intended to replace the advice or opinion of your doctor or dermatologist. If you suspect any of the following causes of chapped lips, call your doctor or dermatologist right away!
Now, without further ado, here’s a look at many of the hidden causes of chapped lips:
- Allergic reaction. Many allergic reactions can cause chapping, but the most common allergies that can result in chapping include fig allergy, nickel allergy, cobalt allergy (which can stem from vitamin B12 supplements), sun sensitivity, and red dye allergy. Other allergic reactions could cause chapping, but these are the most common sources of allergy-related lip chapping.
- Contact irritation. Contact irritation differs from allergic reaction, though the symptoms can be identical. Common sources of contact irritation on the lips include makeup and personal care ingredients like propyl gallate, phenyl salicylate (salol), sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate or guaiazulene. In addition, foods or food ingredients could be to blame; common food irritation culprits include citrus fruits and cinnamates, which are used to product cinnamon flavor in everything from candy to toothpaste.
- Diseases. It’s obvious when a cold leads to chapped lips, but other diseases and health issues can cause chapping, too. Periodontal (gum) disease and tooth abscesses are very often to blame for chapped lips. A rare condition known as chelitis granulomatosa could be the source of your discomfort. Other diseases that can cause lip chapping include Down’s syndrome, thyroid disorders, psoriasis, lichen planus, chronically enlarged tonsils or adenoids, sleep apnea, lupus and other autoimmune diseases, as well as perleche and other yeast infections.
- Prescription medication. Not many prescription meds have chapped lips as a side effects, but there are a few, namely propranolol and prochlorperazine. Other prescription meds can also cause dehydration, which could exacerbate the problem.
- Vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential to health, but too much of it can be a bad thing, especially for lips. If you take an oral supplement or apply vitamin A via Accutane, check to ensure that your body isn’t getting more than 25,000 IU a day.
- Precancerous changes. Known medically as actinic chelitis, precancerous changes in the lips could show up as cracking, peeling, and chapping. If you spent a lot of time in the sun growing up or have other reasons to believe you could be at risk for precancerous changes, visit your doctor to undergo proper testing.
- Stress and coping mechanisms. Stress itself doesn’t often lead to chapped lips, but it can. More often, stress coping mechanisms like lip-licking or chewing can lead to perpetually dry, cracked lips. You may even be doing these things in your sleep! If you feel that these things could be the cause of your chapped lips, try simply to be more aware of the issue (like with nail biting), or consider speaking with someone if your anxiety is too much to handle on your own.
As you can see, these possible causes of chapped lips reach far and wide. However, if you find that none of the traditional treatments for chapped lips are doing the job, it may be time to dig a little deeper and look at these more unusual causes of chapping.