How to Get Rid of Painful Cracked Lips

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How to Get Rid of Painful Cracked Lips

Two Parts:

Cracked, dry or sore lips are common in dry, cold weather. Chronically cracked lips might be a symptom of a more serious illness, but cracked lips can usually be treated using home remedies. See Step 1 and beyond to learn how to make your lips soft and supple again.


Treating Cracked Lips With Home Remedies

  1. Drink plenty of fluids.Having 8-10 glasses of water per day is ideal. When your body is dehydrated, it often shows first in your lips. The more water, the better!
    • Drink consistently throughout the day, not all at one time. That's not going to help your lips immediately!
  2. Don't lick or pick at your lips.When your lips are chapped, avoid the temptation to lick them constantly or pick at them. These two common habits just make the situation worse. Licking your lips may bring temporary relief, but as the saliva on your lips evaporates, it dries out your lips. Picking at the skin on your lips may lead to bleeding, an infection, or a cold sore.
    • If you feel the urge to lick or pick at your lips, immediately apply a lip balm instead.
    • Reapply lip balm or ointment after drinking or rinsing out your mouth.
  3. Exfoliate your lips.Before applying any sort of ointment, remove the dead skin using an exfoliation method. This will expose the fresh skin and help your lips start to heal. Don't rub your lips too harshly - that could make things worse. Gently massage them. You can exfoliate your lips using the same items you use to exfoliate other areas on your body. Try one of the following:
    • Use a salt or sugar scrub. Apply the scrub to your lips and massage them in a circular motion, rubbing away the dead skin (you can also try using sugar added to a little olive oil as an exfoliant). Your lips should feel soft and renewed.
    • Use an exfoliating brush. The easiest brush to use in this case might be your toothbrush! Just make sure it's clean. Any other small, soft-bristle brush will also do. Rub it over your lips in a circular motion to remove dead skin.
    • Don't use a soap-based exfoliant. Face wash with scrubbing beads and other soap-based exfoliants will dry out your lips further.
  4. Apply an ointment.Be careful which over-the-counter ointment or lip balm (e.g. Chapstick) you use to heal your cracked lips. Many contain ingredients (e.g. camphor or petroleum jelly) that make lips feel better temporarily, but which may actually dry out your lips even more, forcing you to reapply them again and again.
    • Look for a lip balm that contains beeswax, shea butter, coconut butter, almond oil, or other natural moisturizers - and not much else. Don't choose a lip balm with an extra-long list of ingredients you can't pronounce.
    • A vitamin E or glycerin-based ointment containing other natural ingredients could also be helpful.
    • Avoid using lipstick to moisturize your lips. Lipstick can be drying - you need a protective ointment underneath. In some cases, you can develop an allergy to lipstick or red dye #40, which is included in many lipstick formulas. If this happens, the lipstick can make your lips very irritated or even cause a rash.
  5. Apply oils.For an ultra-moisturizing lip treatment, rub a little oil on your lips. It will soothe and moisturize your lips while also protecting them from further damage. Use natural moisturizers made from nut oils and seed butters. Here are some examples:
    • Coconut oil
    • Almond oil
    • Jojoba oil
    • Olive oil
    • Cocoa or shea butter
    • Rosehip oil
  6. Soothe your lips if they're painful.If your lips are so cracked that it hurts to smile, try soothing them with a home remedy that will make them feel better. Here are a few suggestions:
    • Rubbing a cucumber slice on your lips daily for about 10 minutes is also known to be effective.
    • Rubbing some aloe vera gel on your lips can be soothing.
    • Rubbing a little honey on your lips will moisturize them and make them feel better.
    • Slather on an unflavored lip balm that contains natural oils or butters, such as coconut oil or shea butter.
  7. Avoid excessive use of commercial skin treatments.These include cosmetics and heavily flavored lip balms. They can dry out your skin.
    • Be sure to always read the label, looking for fragrances or perfumes listed in the ingredients. These can burn or agitate your skin, potentially making your lips worse.
  8. Try using fluoride-free toothpaste.Some people have an allergy to fluoride that not only affects their lips but can also cause other irritations in the mouth. Switch up your toothpaste and see if you notice a difference.
  9. Use a humidifier in your home or office.Heating indoor spaces in the winter causes the air to dry out. Try installing a humidifier. This moistens up air in a room and ultimately moistens up your lips.

Treating Underlying Causes of Cracked Lips

  1. Consider your diet.Increase the amount of needed vitamins in your diet by eating better or taking supplements like vitamin pills.
    • Refrain from eating salty foods, which increase the urge to lick your lips. A high salt diet and salty snacks are very drying for your lips!
    • Similarly, stay away from caffeinated drinks, which urge you to lick your lips.
    • Soda is especially problematic, as it contains both caffeine and salt. Choose another beverage, instead.
  2. Try not to sleep or breathe with your mouth open.If you wake up in the morning with dry, cracked lips, it might be because your mouth was open while you slept. The air circulating in and out of your mouth all night can dry out your lips. See if changing your sleeping position helps.
    • Dry, chapped lips can also be caused by breathing through your mouth when you have a stuffy nose. Try to clear your nasal passages so you can breathe through your nose as much as possible.
    • Wearing a mouth guard, retainer or another device that causes your mouth to stay open could also be the culprit.
    • If you can't avoid sleeping with your mouth open, apply a good ointment before bed.
    • If you often find yourself sleeping with your mouth open and you feel unrested, talk to your doctor to make sure you don't have any underlying health conditions.
  3. Protect your lips from drying environments.Leaving your lips unprotected in a strong wind can cause damage. Spending time in a very dry place can cause your lips to dry out and crack. If your environment is the culprit, you'll need to take extra care to protect your lips when you go out.
  4. Treat sun damage.Just as the rest of your skin can be damaged by the sun, so can your lips. Yes, you can have sunburned lips, and they hurt! Treat sun damaged lips by applying aloe to help the burned skin heal more quickly.
    • Don't just treat sun damage after the fact! Do your best to prevent it by always using sun protection on your lips, such as a lip balm labeled for sun protection. Look for an SPF of at least 15.
  5. See if smoking or chewing is the problem.Anything you regularly put in contact with your lips can affect their condition. The chemicals in cigarettes, gum and processed snacks can cause your lips to become dry and cracked.
  6. Determine whether a vitamin deficiency could be at play.Certain vitamins are critical to maintaining healthy skin and lips. These include Vitamins A, B, C, B2 (Riboflavin deficiency) and E. Make sure you're getting plenty of these vitamins to avoid cracked lips.
  7. Find out whether you are sensitive or allergic to a product ingredient.Many cracked and dry lips are the result of negative reactions to ingredients in cosmetics and skin care products. Overusing some products can aggravate the very condition they are meant to alleviate.
    • Switch to a toothpaste that doesn't contain sodium lauryl sulphate. Sodium lauryl sulfate is the foaming agent found in most toothpastes; it can also aggravate mouth sores or ulcers and chapped lips.
  8. See if it's a side effects of your medications.Certain medications cause dry or cracked lips as a side effect. If your condition coincides with beginning a new medication regimen, consult your doctor about this possibility.
  9. Consider more serious conditions.If none of the above seems to be the cause of your painful lips, they could also be a symptom of far more serious problems. Consult a doctor if you suspect that your lip pain originates with a seemingly unrelated ailment. Some possible illnesses could be:
    • Diabetes. If you have diabetes or a history of the condition in your family, this may be a cause of your lip pain.
    • Kawasaki Disease. A serious, but rare, blood disorder that is a cause of chronic dry lips.
    • Sjogren's Syndrome. A kind of autoimmune disease which can damage the tear ducts and similar glands. This causes dry eyes, dry mouth, and dry mucus membranes. It's also a common cause of seriously cracked lips.
    • Macrocytosis. A blood condition where the average red blood cell size is increased to dangerous levels.
    • Sexually transmitted diseases. STDs, oral herpes HSV-1, HIV, and other diseases can be an underlying cause of chronic cracked lips.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Why do lips become dry?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Lips become dry due to a lack of water or fluids. Severe weather can dry and damage lips, such as too cold or too hot temperatures. Licking or biting your lips will also irritate them.
  • Question
    My lips are sore, dry and chapped around my lips none of the chapsticks work what do I do?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Try honey. Create a honey mask and leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes. Use a chapstick before going outdoors; you say it isn't working but it does have a protective factor when used outside. Drink a lot of water, but be careful, for if you get any water on your lips they will crack more.
  • Question
    How can I heal chapped lips when I work in a very cold environment?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Try using a beeswax-based lip balm to retain natural moisture. Make sure you hydrate well to heal your chapped lips from the inside.
  • Question
    How can I stop myself from licking my lips all of the time?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Wear lip balm or chapstick, and if all else fails use lotion or baby oil. It will prevent you from thinking that your lips are parched.
  • Question
    Will saliva make it worse?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, it will. Your best bet is to apply a medicated lip balm and restrain from licking your lips. When your lips have healed, you can get a regular lip balm to use on your lips to keep them moisturized and to prevent the problem returning.
  • Question
    Will drinking more water help dry, cracked lips?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, keeping hydrated will help.
  • Question
    Can I go out in the cold when I have sore lips ?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You can, but it won't be very helpful to your lips. Your lips will get dried up and hurt even more, especially if it is windy out.
  • Question
    Will splashing cold water on my lips help?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It will help a little bit. It will smoothe out the outer skin, but not heal the cracks.
  • Question
    How do I get rid of cracks on the sides of my lips?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Take vitamin B2. Treat any fungal infection with an anti-fungal salve. Dry the corners of your lips, wash them with a Q-tip(s), then dry them with fresh ones. Use new fresh Q-tips and pick up a little of the salve and apply it to the corners of your mouth. This will soothe those cracks within three days. If not, speak to your doctor for advice.
  • Question
    How can I stop myself from picking cracks in my lips?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Use a lot of Vaseline or lip balm because it will soothe your lips and feel like there is nothing to pick.
Unanswered Questions
  • I have always worn a dermatology tested lipstick (same brand). My lips are suddenly drying and peeling. I used Vaseline and blistex, which did not help. I've now got cracks some cracks which I can't get rid of. What should I do?
  • How do I heal very dry lips if water, chapstick and honey are not working?
  • I have got an ulcer in my mouth and it pains very much. I started feeling pain in my lips and then I noticed that my lips were very dry and I felt to peel it off. What should I do?
  • What can I do if my lips are cracked on the sides of my mouth and won't heal?
  • How can I stop my lips from peeling?
Ask a Question
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This video shows you how to get rid of cracked lips.
  • Try coconut oil on your lips to help.
  • Don't bite the dead skin on your lips, that will make it worse. Instead use an ointment to get rid of the dead skin so you can apply your lip balm.
  • Try using almond oil. The effect will help soothe your lips.
  • Don't spread the Chapstick or lip balm by rubbing your lips together. Instead, gently use your finger and apply more lip balm if they feel dry.
  • Apply a thick layer of your remedy of choice before you go to sleep so it won't interfere with drinking, eating, kissing, etc.
  • Avoid touching your lips or they will become raw.
  • Make a lip scrub by mixing olive oil and sugar.
  • Rub a cucumber on your lip for 5 to 20 minutes.
  • Use a medical lip balm that works for you.
  • You can also try Petroleum Jelly. It soothes your lips and makes them smooth.
  • Put honey on it carefully, otherwise it will cause you harm. If your lips are very cracked, you can also put ghee on them.
  • Don't lick your lips. It might feel good at first, but saliva actually dries them out more.
  • Try going outside less if the weather is bad and try not to sleep with a window open beside you.
  • Use lip balm made out of 100% all natural beeswax.
  • If you can't stop sleeping with your mouth open, talk to your doctor to rule out possible issues with your nose or soft tissues in your mouth. They may be able to offer treatment to improve your sleep and your painful cracked lips!
  • Bring chapstick with you everywhere. Putting on chapstick at least three times a day helps your lips stay soft.
  • If you play an instrument that hurts your lips (flute, trumpet, etc...) that might be a problem. Apply some petroleum jelly before you play one.
  • Try not to use lip tints; they normally cause lip cracks.
  • Apply malai or glycerin overnight to help.
  • Apply a thick layer of natural unflavored lip balm to your lips and place a piece of plastic wrap over them. Leave it for 5 minutes, then wash the lip balm off and apply a thin layer of fresh lip balm.
  • Use Egyptian Magic. It is a lip balm that contains only natural ingredients. Find it at Costco or online.


  • Never rub sore lips with harsh abrasives, such as a nail file or a stiff brush.
  • Always consult a doctor when diagnosing any medical condition, especially if it does not clear up in a reasonable time under home treatment. In the case of lips, a dermatologist is probably the most qualified to make any assessments.

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Video: The 1 Ingredient Remedy That Cured My Dry, Painful, Cracked Lips FOR GOOD!

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