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Cracked, Chapped Lips With Itching Skin

By Jessica Lietz ; Updated July 18, 2017

Cracked, chapped lips cause pain and discomfort, and when combined with itchy skin, might cause embarrassment and annoyance. Although most cases of cracked, chapped lips with itchy skin are not a medical cause for concern, symptoms that persist might indicate a more serious health condition. Fortunately, most cases of cracked, chapped lips and itchy skin are preventable or treatable with simple lifestyle changes and self care at home.


People who experience cracked, chapped lips with itching skin might notice their symptoms worsen during the cold, dry winter months. In addition, spending long periods of time outdoors in the summer can also lead to cracked, chapped lips and itchy skin. Severely cracked lips might bleed, and intense scratching might lead to bleeding or skin infections in the affected areas.


With increasing age, the skin produces less natural oil, which can lead to cracks, chapping and itching. Personal behaviors such as frequent licking of the lips, spending long periods of time outdoors, and taking hot showers also contribute to cracked, chapped lips with itchy skin. Medical conditions including anemia, diabetes, depression, HIV and AIDS and kidney failure might cause symptoms that include cracked, chapped lips and itchy skin.


Staying well hydrated and adding moisture to inside air with a humidifier can reduce skin itches and cracked, chapped lips. Use a lip balm with petrolatum or beeswax that does not contain added fragrances, flavors or colors. The American Academy of Dermatology website suggests applying a skin cream containing lactic acid or urea onto skin that is severely itchy or dry, although these ingredients might irritate skin that is cracked. Doctors might prescribe a topical ointment or an oral antihistamine for severely itchy skin.


According to the Mayo Clinic website, applying a flavored lip balm might actually cause people to lick their lips more often, thereby exacerbating the problem of cracked, chapped lips. Antihistamines can dehydrate the skin and mouth, which might worsen dryness and chapping in some people.


Before going outside in cold weather, apply unflavored lip balm to the lips, and reapply the balm regularly. The Mayo Clinic website recommends using a lip balm containing sunscreen, as sunburns to the lips can happen any time of the year and might worsen cracks or chapping of the lips. Use a gentle soap or body wash for cleansing the skin, and after bathing or showering, apply a moisturizer to the skin to help seal in the body’s natural oils, and wear soft cotton fabrics to help prevent further irritation to itchy skin.

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