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Dry Skin Around the Mouth? Care for Your Lips With These 6 Ways ----- Back

30.10.19 - Knowledge

Dry Skin Around the Mouth? Care for Your Lips With These 6 Ways

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Words by Antoinette Barnardo

Dry skin is uncomfortable and unsightly, especially around your mouth. If you occasionally experience lips so chapped they flake and crack no matter how much balm you apply, the dryness could be caused by more than lack of moisture.

In this article, we'll look at the typical causes of dry skin around the mouth and the best ways to remedy this common skin condition. 

Common Causes of Dry Skin Around the Mouth

Cheilitis, the medical term for chapped lips, is defined as an inflammation of the lips. Common symptoms may include cracking, flaking, scaling, severe dryness, pain, and bleeding. Chapped lips can affect any skin type, including oily skin and combination skin types. 

The area around your mouth is particularly susceptible to dryness because, unlike the rest of your skin, your lips do not have sweat or oil glands to help produce moisture. And similar to the skin under your eyes, the outermost layer of your lips is thin and delicate. This means your lips are extremely sensitive to environmental and biological changes.

There are several reasons why dry skin develops around your mouth. They range from acute (temporary) to chronic (long-lasting).

Acute Causes of Dry Skin Around the Mouth

If your dry skin comes and goes, consider the following possible causes:

1. Cold Weather

Dry skin around the mouth is a normal condition during the winter months. Since your lips can’t create their own moisture, they're prone to chapping when exposed to cold, dry air. High winds can also exacerbate chapped lips. 

2. Sun Exposure

Since your lips lack protective glands and thick skin, they're vulnerable to UV damage. Like the skin on the rest of your body, your lips can become sunburned, resulting in painful cracking and blistering. 

3. Lip Licking

It makes sense to want to lick your lips when they feel dry. However, doing so is counterproductive. Saliva is acidic and contains a number of enzymes that break down fats and proteins. Constantly exposing your lips to these enzymes damages them over time, resulting in the chapping you're trying to remedy.

4. Nutritional Deficiencies

A lack of B vitamins and iron can manifest as angular cheilitis, an inflammation of the corners of the mouth. According to a study in the July 2011 edition of CUTIS, a quarter of reported cases of angular cheilitis has been attributed to nutritional deficiencies. 

5. Dehydration

Just drinking water won't save your skin from dryness, but it's important to be mindful of how much or little you consume daily. If your water intake is low, you'll likely notice the side effects of dehydration through your chapped lips.

Chronic Causes of Dry Skin Around the Mouth

Meanwhile, the dry skin around your mouth may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Visit a dermatologist and/or your primary care doctor for a proper diagnosis. These are a few of the most common causes of chronic dry skin around the mouth.

1. Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis is a chronic skin condition that is common in young women. Similar to rosacea, it's characterized by scaly red bumps around the mouth, although it can potentially spread towards the nose and eyes. The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology says perioral dermatitis can be triggered by prolonged use of topical steroid creams or inhaled steroid sprays. 

2. Irritant Contact Dermatitis 

The products you use in or around your mouth — think lip balm, mouthwash, toothpaste, or lipstick — may irritate your lips or the skin around them. This is known as irritant contact dermatitis. Visit a dermatologist or other healthcare professional to pinpoint which ingredient (or ingredients) may cause your skin to react negatively. 

3. Autoimmune Diseases

If you've been diagnosed with Crohn's, celiac, or lupus, these autoimmune diseases may lead to chronic chapped lips due to the body's inability to retain proper nutrients. Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that attacks the salivary glands, which can yield dry, cracked lips (along with dry skin all over the rest of your body). 

How to Care for Dry Skin Around the Mouth

Address dry skin around mouth with YORA Rebalance Lip Concentrate

Your lips and the skin around them need extra attention. If you haven’t been giving that area of your face the care it deserves, consider making the following changes to your skincare routine and overall daily life.

1. Use a Simple, Nourishing Lip Balm With SPF

While it may be tempting to use lip balms with nice scents and flavors, they may be contributing to your dry lips instead of remedying them. Seek fragrance-free formulas to avoid the risk of irritation and further drying. 

Also, consider the moisturizing agents in your lip balm. Ideally, your formula should contain a mix of humectants (which attract moisture) and occlusives (which seal in moisture). Examples of humectants are hyaluronic acid and glycerin, while petrolatum and lanolin are occlusives. A well-balanced lip balm will keep your lips hydrated and healthy.

Don't forget to protect your lips from UV rays. While your standard sunscreen may do the job, hydrating balms formulated with SPF will also help protect the extremely delicate outer layer of skin on your lips. Look for anything that is at least broad-spectrum SPF 30.

2. Go Beyond Lip Balm

Incorporating lip-specific products into your skincare routine can help you maintain a soft, plump pout. First, exfoliating your lips at least once a week with a sugar scrub will help slough off dead skin. Then apply a hydrating product such as YORA's Rebalance Lip Concentrate. This formula contains HILURLIP®, which hydrates dry lips, and a plumping agent in SEACODE™.

3. Invest in a Humidifier

If your lips are dry and cracked because of the dry weather, a humidifier in your bedroom or office will help alleviate that issue by introducing moisture into the air. Of course, this will benefit the rest of your skin as well. 

4. Pay Attention to Your Diet

Make sure you drink plenty of water and eat a diet that's rich in vitamins and minerals. If the skin around your mouth is dry due to a vitamin deficiency, talk with a nutritionist to work on a diet plan that will keep your lips (and the rest of your skin) healthy and supple.

5. Practice Good Habits

Lifestyle changes can help promote healthier skin on and around your mouth. For instance, if you smoke or vape, consider dropping that habit. Nicotine not only contributes to fine lines around your mouth. It also dries out your skin.

Meanwhile, resist the urge to lick or peel the flaky skin around your lips. Doing either of these things will either prolong or worsen your symptoms. 

6. Visit a Doctor

If you need to rule out potential allergens or pinpoint a deeper medical condition, visit a licensed professional, whether it's a dermatologist or general practitioner. Do not attempt to self-diagnose your issues, as you run the risk of incorrectly treating the cause of your problems. While you can eliminate possible irritants from your skincare routine on your own, discuss your skincare concerns with a professional for peace of mind and potential alternative solutions.

Caring for the Skin Around Your Mouth

The skin around your mouth can be easy to neglect in skincare routines. But now that you have a better understanding of how delicate and sensitive this area can be, you're better equipped to care for it.

Fortunately, maintenance is simple — all you need is a well-formulated lip balm infused with SPF, a gentle exfoliator, and a hydrating product that will leave your lips soft and smooth. Follow that up with practicing mindful habits, and you'll reap the rewards of healthy, glowing skin.

Words by Antoinette Barnardo

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