Let’s face it – perfecting that Hollywood smile isn’t only about gleaming white teeth. You can use the best teeth whitening strips of 2018 all you want, but dry and chapped lips make it difficult to smile with confidence. Over the winter months in particular, dry lips become a daily struggle for millions of men and women alike across the UK.
So in the spirit of springtime smiles, we thought we’d take a closer look at some of the primary causes of chapped lips. If looking to banish dry and chapped lips for a healthy and happy smile this spring, you might want to steer clear of the following triggers where possible:
- Licking Your Lips
When lips are dry and chapped, it’s almost impossible to resist the temptation to lick them. You’re probably doing it right now while reading this! Unfortunately, the initial moisturising effect of licking your lips quickly gives way to even more harmful dehydration. Our saliva simply isn’t designed to moisten our lips – you’ll only make things worse by licking them. A hard habit to kick, but an important measure to prevent chapped lips nonetheless.
If you don’t provide your body with enough hydration, you’re pretty much guaranteed to suffer the consequences. Dehydration takes the most terrifying toll on our health – chapped lips being just one of many symptoms associated with dehydration. As such, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to your daily fluid intake. Experts advise drinking at least two litres of water every day, sipping slowly and gradually rather than guzzling gallons all at once. Avoiding alcohol is also important for preventing dehydration.
Believe it or not, research suggests that by the year 2025, more than 50% of the entire EU population will be affected by allergies to one extent or another. Allergies aren’t just common, they’re prolific in the extreme. It’s just that most cases are never brought to the attention of the professionals and therefore go untreated. Though technically harmless in terms of overall physical health, allergies to pollen, pets and various household products can lead to dry and chapped lips. In such instances, the best way of combatting the problem is to consult with a doctor, who may be able to recommend an effective course of treatment.
- Exposure to the Elements
There aren’t a great many weather conditions that are particularly healthy for your lips. Hot and dry weather, direct sunlight, strong winds, cold temperatures, rain and so on – all the kinds of things that can take a huge toll on your lips. Of course, it’s not practical to avoid all such weather conditions entirely, or cover your mouth with a mask every time you venture outside. That said, it’s quick and easy to apply protective balms and sunscreens, which can provide your lips with surprisingly effective protection from the elements. If in doubt, consult your local pharmacist.
- Mouth Breathing
Once again, this is the kind of habit that can be so much more difficult to kick than expected. Primarily for the reason that you might not even know you’re guilty of it. The problem with mouth breathing is that it creates a constantly moving stream or air around the lips, which is a little like placing them under an automatic hand-dryer. Over time, it’s inevitable that they become dry, chapped and sore. If you can train yourself to breathe through your nose day and night, it’s something you should definitely do.
- Toothpaste and Mouthwash
Premium toothpastes and strong antibacterial mouthwash might be great for your teeth and gums, but aren’t necessarily doing your lips many favours. Particularly when it comes to mouthwash with a strong alcohol content and toothpastes with ingredients like sodium lauryl sulphate, these aren’t the kinds of ingredients that promote lip health. Rather than changing your chosen products or oral hygiene regime in general, it’s instead good to get into the habit of effectively cleansing your lips and face after brushing and rinsing. In addition, the use of protective balms and moisturisers after brushing can help.
- Dry Heat
While it’s not as if you can sit around in the freezing cold, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers of exposure to dry heat. When the average household activates its central heating system during the colder months of the year, the resulting dry air can wreak havoc with lips and skin alike. On the plus side, it’s a fairly easy problem to compensate for with an affordable mister or humidifier. And again, generous use of balms and moisturisers comes highly recommended.
- Citrus Fruits
Or more accurately, anything with a relatively high concentration of acid, such as vinegar. The acids in a variety of foods and ingredients can immediately strip the lips of precious moisture, while at the same time damaging the skin. Minimising consumption of such products is therefore a good idea, as is ensuring your lips are properly cleansed and cared for throughout the day.
- Touching and Picking
If you could see the amount of dirt, grime and bacteria your fingers harbour, chances are you wouldn’t put them anywhere near your mouth! The problem being that when lips become dry and chapped, it’s always tempting to prod, poke and pick at them on a continuous basis. Sadly, doing so is 100% guaranteed to make the problem way worse than it already is. While it can be easier said than done, keeping your fingers away from your mouth as much as possible is of the utmost importance.
- Health Conditions or Medications
Last but not least, chronic cases of chapped lips can sometimes be a symptom of various health conditions. Likewise, there are countless medications that can cause the lips to become dry and chapped. While most cases of chapped lips are of no real concern, it’s important to speak to a doctor or dermatologist just in case.