Anyone who has spent time skiing, hiking, or just relaxing outdoors has probably experienced chapped lips at some point. This condition, which ranges from slightly annoying to extremely painful, is associated with drying of the lips from weather exposure. Lip salves and balms can help prevent and even heal chapped lips.
If you suffer from painful, even bleeding cracks and splits in your lips, especially at the corners of the mouth, then you may have developed angular cheilitis, a condition brought on not by weather or dryness, but by a virus or fungus.
What Causes Chapped Lips?
Your lips are prone to chapping because they are covered with epithelial tissue, the same sensitive material that lines your intestines. Exposure to cold, windy weather can cause chapping, as can excessive moisture (licking the lips) and allergenic lipstick.
Angular cheilitis is usually caused by a fungal, viral or bacterial infection. It also can be brought on by biting or excessive licking of the lips.
Treating Chapped Lips
Stop putting petroleumbased products on your lips. They feel slick but actually dry your lips, which is why you need to keep applying them—which is a good way for the manufacturer to get more of your money. Instead, use lip balms or gloss made from shea butter, beeswax, and vegetable or nut oils. Also use vitamin A, D, and E oils or ointments (preferably the concentrated 32,000 IU/ounce variety of vitamin E). Use a generous amount and your damaged lips will heal in nearly an instant. Also, B vitamins can help prevent chapping.
Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial that can be an effective treatment against angular chelitis. It can be used in combination with vitamin E.