By Dr. Janet Zand
Q: My lips get very dry and chapped in the winter months and I find drugstore remedies only provide temporary relief. What are the best solutions, in your experience?
A: Most people get chapped lips every once in awhile. During these colder winter months, when so many of us spend time indoors with the dry heat, the skin, and specifically the lips, lose moisture. The surface of our lips can literally break, leading to chapped, and even cracked lips. It is important to take good care, because badly cracked lips can lead to potential infection.
There are several home remedies you can try to both prevent dry lips and to treat them.
1. Stay hydrated! Drink an appropriate amount of water and healthy fluids. The amount individuals need varies, so monitor the color of your urine. When it's light in color -- pale straw color -- you'll know your body is hydrated.
2. Use a humidifier. If you are sensitive to winter dryness, consider a humidifier, at least in the room where you sleep. During the nighttime, especially, some of us tend to breathe through our mouths, which can cause additional dryness.
3. Try to avoid licking your lips. Your saliva dries pretty quickly and this will result in your lips being drier than before you tried to moisten them.
4. Moisturize. There are many choices for lip moisturizers. Most people respond better to natural moisturizers that do not contain synthetic fragrances or chemicals. The flavored lip balms can be loaded with preservatives, petrochemicals, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, and synthetic colors. These ingredients can leave lips more irritated so it is best to go natural. If you are in a DIY mood, you can even make your own! I like to use coconut oil, shea butter, and almond oil, combined with a drop of my favorite therapeutic grade essential oil.
Related: Do Essential Oils Really Work?
5. Consume more healthy oils. Whether you choose dietary oils from fish such as cold-water fish, salmon, or plant-based sources such as seeds, flax, or chia, an increase in healthy oils improves skin moisture.
6. Apply a green tea bag. Take a used wet green tea bag and press it against your lips for 3 to 5 minutes. The wet tea bag slowly moisturizers your dry lips.
7. Try topical oils. Coconut, jojoba, or sesame oils, as well as shea butter, are all terrific options. You can use these twice a day for a few days and any dry, chapped lips should show improvement.
If you try these simple home remedies but your chapping doesn't get better please consult a dermatologist, as it is possible that there is a systemic issue at the root of your dried lips.
This piece was written in collaboration with Kimberly Jordan Allen.
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