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Why Your Lips Are Chapped

Has winter chapped your lips? Find out why it happens and what to do about it.

Exercising Caution With Balm

Some lip treatments do more harm than good, says Steven K. Grekin, DO, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery in Iowa.

"Many ingredients can cause dryness and irritation, including eucalyptus, menthol, and camphor," Grekin says.

Acne-prone people may want to look for a petrolatum-free product, Wu says. Some people may find the ingredient clogs pores and causes blackheads or acne.

Avoid the products that come in little pots. "Dipping your finger in a jar just isn't as sanitary as a tube applicator," Linder says.

Sealing Your Lips

The key to avoiding cracked, flaky lips is to balm early and often. Wu recommends wearing a thick layer of ointment on your lips when you go to bed. "Many of us sleep with our mouths open, causing our lips to dry out."

Applying a treatment at bedtime means you'll be less likely to wake up with chapping. One expert's favorite: Neosporin Lip Health Overnight Renewal Therapy.

Whatever product you use, keep it handy. Stash one in the car, one near the bed, and one at your desk so that they're convenient.

Grekin also suggests using a humidifier in your home, especially at night, to keep your skin's moisture levels replenished. Drinking plenty of water will also help fight dehydration, another cause of chapped lips, Wu says.

Lip Balm Addiction?

Some people say they're "addicted" to lip balm. "That word really doesn't apply in this situation," Wu says. "You may like how balm makes your lips feel, but there's nothing addicting in non-medicated balms."

"Drying ingredients in a balm may leave lips feeling less moisturized than before application, making a person feel as though she needs to apply more," Linder says. That desire is not an addiction. "The reality is that [your] lips are not dependent on the balm."

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