Here's What's Causing Your Lips To Itch

Our lips are delicate. So delicate, in fact, that they are made up of just one-third of the cellular thickness that the rest of our body has, according to experts at Johnny Gurgen D.O. P.A. Dermatology & Mohs Surgery. Further complicating things, the lips harbor no sweat glands to keep them moisturized, so it's easy for them to dry out. Cue itchy lips.

A case of itchy lips can range in severity depending on what's causing the discomfort. For some people, perhaps that itchiness is simply part of the healing process when a small nick in the lip begins to scab over and mend itself. Similarly, maybe your lips become chapped in the thick of wintertime. In that case, the skin damage is likely prompting your itching sensation.

Medically, a case of itchy lips is referred to as cheilitis. For those with the condition, this itching is sometimes accompanied by pain or burning. Most often, cheilitis is the result of sun exposure, eczema, or an infection. Yet there are other causes of cheilitis that may result in a bout of itchy lips.

External triggers of itchy lips

In some instances, certain external triggers may aggravate symptoms of cheilitis. These can include allergens found in certain products, like toothpaste, sunscreen, lipstick, and more (via Healthline). This can be particularly true when it comes to scented products containing fragrance. Similar to allergic contact cheilitis are citrus allergies, in which exposure to certain raw fruits prompts itching and tingling in the lips (per New York Allergy & Sinus Centers). Lemons, grapefruit, and oranges are just a few examples of citrus fruits that can trigger an allergic reaction.

Alternatively, a case of weather cheilitis can also be brought about by harsh wind or severe cold — which is well known to be a cause of dry, itchy skin. Itchy lips may also occur when taking certain medications or as a result of a health condition or infection, such as lupus, chronic hives, nutrient deficiencies, the herpes simplex virus, or even ingrown hairs.

Keeping your lips protected and itch-free

If you've ruled out medications, alternate health conditions, allergens, and wintertime weather, the cause of your itchy lips may be — well, you. Otherwise known as traumatic cheilitis, those who regularly smack, pick, bite, or lick their lips often experience inflammation and irritation as a result (via Healthline). If you're able to dial back these habits, you may find that the itching in your lips subsides.

If your physician determines that the cause of your itchy lips is due to an infection or health condition, medication may be needed. If an allergy is the underlying cause, try and avoid known triggers. Furthermore, keep your lips hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day. Sleeping with a humidifier at night can also help you maintain a moist environment for your lips. To top it all off, keep a tube of medicated lip balm with SPF on hand, as this will help keep your lips protected from the elements.