When You Get Chapped Lips, This Is What's Really Happening

Chapped lips are no one's friend. And while many of us assume they come with the seasons, there's actually a whole lot of different reasons as to why they occur, including dehydration. "Water loss through the lips is actually three to 10 times greater than through the skin on the face or other skin on the body," Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., board-certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist in California, explained to The Healthy. "When you notice that your lips are dry, down a few glasses of water to help replenish some of your body's stores."

Another common reason for chapped lips is actually your skincare routine. "I find that when patients use acne products, they often inadvertently get some on their lips," Erum Ilyas, a dermatologist in Pennsylvania told Allure. "These products are designed to exfoliate your skin to improve [breakouts]. If they get on your lips, you will find your lips are persistently dry and cracked." Who knew?

Chapped lips can be caused licking your lips too much

Licking your lips too much also tends to dry lips out, leading to cracks and peeling. As Adam Friedman, M.D., FAAD, told Women's Health, "Saliva is comprised of enzymes that are meant to break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, which are what your lips are made of. You are literally digesting your lips when you do that." Worse still, licking your lips too much could also lead to infection. 

"When you lick your lips excessively, the warm, moist saliva encourages yeast to grow, especially when the saliva builds up in the corners of the mouth," Dr. Michele Green, a New York-based dermatologist, told Bustle

Lastly, chapped lips can also be caused by overexposure to the sun (read: you need to use a lip balm with SPF). "People who have exposed their unprotected lips to cumulative sun damage are at a higher risk for skin cancer of the lips, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma," Sam Rizk, M.D., a facial plastic surgeon in New York, told The Healthy. If you notice your chapped lips are recurring in one specific spot, it's best to see a dermatologist to make sure it's not something more serious.