What Lip Licking Does to Your Lips
If your lips are dry, your first reaction may be to lick them. Learn why you need to stop this bad habit and how ChapStick can help.
Why Do People Lick Their Lips?
If you frequently lick your lips, you’re not alone. Lips often become dry in both summer and winter months. 1 Aside from dry weather, some people may lick their lips due to sunburn, nasal congestion or dryness.1 Lip licking is a reaction that attempts to counteract dryness and bring moisture back to them.1 People often don’t realize how frequently they lick their lips.
Why Licking Your Lips Doesn’t Help
Licking your lips may seemingly provide temporary relief, but in the long run, it can make lip dryness even worse. The skin of your lips is extremely delicate. When you lick your lips, the powerful digestive enzymes in your saliva erode their protective barrier. 1 This decreases the moisture in your lips and can make them more vulnerable to irritants.1 If you’re licking your lips too frequently, you may experience chapped lips, cracked lips, and peeling.1 Chronic lip licking can lead to a variety of other lip-related issues like angular cheilitis, cheilitis simplex and eczematous cheilitis.1
How to Help Prevent Lip Licking
Lip licking can be a difficult habit to beat. Take these preventative steps to stave off lip licking.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated can help prevent dry lips.1 If you’re hydrated, you’re less likely to have the urge to lick your lips.
- Use a lip balm. Applying a lip balm will hydrate and moisturize your lips. Lip balm can even add a protective barrier to your lips. If you feel the urge to lick your lips, apply lip balm instead. If it’s the winter or you live in a dry climate, you should apply lip balm several times per day and before bed.1
- Don’t pick your lips. It can be tempting to pick at, chew or rub off peeling or flaking skin. However, removing dry skin can make dry lips even worse and take it longer for them to heal.1 If you feel the urge to pick your lips, apply lip balm instead.
- Use sun protection. If you’re spending the day in the sun, opt for a lip balm with sunscreen.1 This can protect your lips from sunburn and harmful UV exposure. Additionally, wearing a wide-brimmed hat can protect your lips from UV exposure.1
- Invest in a humidifier. Dry air can wreak havoc on your lips and skin. Humidifiers can counteract this by adding moisture to the air, preventing dry skin and dry lips.2
Stop lip licking at its source by moisturizing and nourishing your lips. Find your new favorite ChapStick lip balm to help prevent dry lips today.
- Art of prevention: Practical interventions in lip-licking dermatitis. National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33898702/. Accessed on 04/19/23.
- Humidifiers: Why You Might Need Them. Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/in-depth/humidifiers/art-20048021. Accessed on 4/20/23.