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Cracked lip corners may be common, especially in the winter, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying or painful. In this guide, we’ll explore the potential causes of cracked lip corners before investigating potential treatments for cracked lips, from wearing overnight lip masks to drinking enough water.
What Causes The Corners Of Your Mouth To Crack
Cracked lip corners are officially called angular cheilitis, and they can have many potential causes. In most cases, saliva is the root cause of the cracking. That’s because it contains digestive enzymes that can compromise your skin and cause irritation. Even if licking your lips gives the dryness temporary relief, the saliva makes the cracking worse in the long run. Mouth breathing and/or drooling while sleeping will also dry out your lips
Many people also find that their lips become cracked in the winter, when the cold temperatures, wind exposure, and reduced humidity cause their skin to dry out. Getting a sunburn at any time of year will also seriously dry out your skin and can potentially cause it to crack as well.
Certain vitamin deficiencies (namely B1, B2, and B3) can also cause the corners of your lips to become cracked. Some lip shapes (i.e. lips that are downturned at the corners) are also more prone to cracking at the corners. Other lifestyle factors can also cause your lips to become cracked, or make existing cracks worse. These include wearing dentures, using tartar-control toothpaste, and eating certain candies and gums.
How To Treat Cracked Lip Corners
Looking to treat cracked lips corners at home? Here are seven things that you can do to help your cracked lip corners get better fast:
Wear lip balm all the time
Wearing a thick, moisturizing lip mask around the clock is key for protecting and nourishing cracked lips. You need to keep a lip balm on you at all times and get into the habit of re-applying it as soon as it starts to wear off: Just applying an overnight lip balm once a day before you go to sleep won’t cut it when your lips are already cracked. Choose a lip balm that is free from fragrance, preservatives, menthol, and other potentially irritating ingredients that can make the cracking worse. Instead, look for a lip balm that features all natural oils, butters, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and other nourishing ingredients.
Drink plenty of water
In addition to making sure that your lips are hydrated from the outside in, you also need to make sure they are hydrated from the inside out. How much water you need to drink per day varies a lot from person to person depending on your size, how much you sweat, and more. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends between 11.5-15.5 cups (2.7 to 3.7 liters) of fluids per day. If you aren’t motivated to drink plain water, try infusing it with fruits and vegetables or drinking caffeine-free herbal tea to give it some flavor. You might also want to get a tumbler with a straw to keep the liquid from irritating the corners of your mouth.
Get a humidifier
If it’s wintertime where you are, or you live in a dry climate, then the lack of humidity might be making your cracked lips worse. Using a humidifier will put moisture back into the air and soothe your cracked lips as well as the rest of your dry skin. Many people only run the humidifier at night while they sleep, but if your skin is really dry then you might need to get a second one to use during the day in your office or in the rest of your house. Using alongside the other treatments on this list, humidifiers can provide some serious relief for chapped lips.
Stop licking your lips
We know that this is easier said than done, but it’s really important that you expose your lips to as little saliva as possible if they are already cracked. Instead of licking them for hydration, continue putting on a lip balm to protect your lips and stop them from feeling dry. If they are moisturized and protected, then you won’t get the same urge to lick them constantly.
Keep the area dry
Any moisture that sits around your mouth area will worsen the cracking and dry out your lips even further. Remove any excess saliva, water, or beverages that you notice sitting around your mouth. Then dab on an occlusive lip mask to protect the skin and also repel any moisture that forms.
Take some B vitamins
Being deficient in vitamin B1, B2, and/or B3 can contribute to having cracked lips, so eating foods rich in B vitamins or taking B vitamin supplements can encourage your lips to heal. You might want to have your doctor test your blood to confirm the deficiencies before self-dosing yourself with supplements: Having too much of a vitamin in your system can have side effects just like having too little.
See your dermatologist
In most cases, the at-home treatments above will help your cracked lips to heal on their own in a matter of days or weeks. However, if your cracked lips continue to persist, you might need to see a dermatologist for a stronger treatment than an occlusive lip balm. They will likely prescribe a topical steroid or antifungal treatment to apply 1-2 times a day for 2-4 weeks a day until the problem resolves. If downturned corners are contributing to chronic cracked lips, they might also recommend getting fillers to lift the entire area and help alleviate the problem.
We hope this guide helped you figure out why your lips are cracking and gave you some practical tips for getting relief fast. Which ingredients work best for your skin concerns? Try this personalized skincare quiz to find out.