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What Causes Dry Chapped Lips in Adults?

What Causes Dry Chapped Lips in Adults? What Causes Dry Chapped Lips in Adults? What Causes Dry Chapped Lips in Adults?

Dry, chapped lips can be red and uncomfortable, making it difficult to talk, smile or eat. Your lips may become inflamed, sore to the touch and take a long time to heal. The problem can range from a mild nuisance to severe enough to interrupt your daily life. Causes of dry, chapped lips include medical conditions and external elements that draw moisture out of the skin.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors such as overexposure to the sun and wind can damage your lips if they are not protected. These elements rob your lips of their moisture, which can result in splitting and cracking. Very cold weather can also damage your lips because of low humidity levels, causing the skin to chap and even bleed. If your lips are drying out because of low indoor humidity -- typically found with central heating -- a humidifier might be a good solution. To protect your lips from outdoor elements, apply an oil-based cream or lip balm that contains either beeswax or petrolatum with sunscreen.

Medical Conditions

Cheilosis, also referred to as cheilitis or angular cheilitis, is an inflammation of the lips. It can cause the corners of the mouth to become painful, irritated, red, cracked or scaly, and skin folds may develop. It is caused by a yeast infection that results from excess moisture at the corners of the mouth, which might be caused by frequent licking, malocclusion, ill-fitting dentures or other dental problems. Treatment for cheilosis includes topical medications that contain steroids or antifungal or antibacterial ingredients.

Chapped lips also might be a result of eczema, a skin disorder that can occur anywhere on the body. It causes severe dry patches that are very itchy.


The smoke from a cigarette and the contact of the cigarette to your lips interrupt your lip's hydration, which can cause chapping. If you tend to lick your lips, this can dry them out since licking gets rid of your lips' natural oils. Make an effort to breathe through your nose, as mouth breathing will also dry out your lips. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin and lips well hydrated.

Interactions and Allergies

Dry, chapped lips can result from acne medications that are designed to dry out your skin and help clear acne. This can subsequently dry out your lips. An allergic reaction to lip balms or lipsticks also can cause your lips to crack.

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