Causes of Dry Lips

Usually, the causes of dry lips are environmental factors or harmful habits. However, it can also be something more serious. Learn more.
Causes of Dry Lips

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 27 May, 2022

There are a variety of causes of dry lips and most of them have to do with external factors that affect this area of the face. However, on rare occasions, this dryness is caused by more serious health problems. 

When our lips dry out, it’s aesthetically noticeable. Generally, our lips look better when they’re moisturized and full of color. If they look cracked or chapped, then they look older and less attractive.

Usually, we can solve this problem using some simple home care measures. However, in some cases, the situation may be more complicated and cause pain and even bleeding. Therefore, if your lips dry out, it’s best to take care of them and take some measures that will help.

Dry lips

Causes of dry lips.

Most people experience dry lips at some point in their lives. Beyond its physical appearance, it’s important to figure out the causes of dry lips. That way, you’ll be able to prevent it from causing additional discomfort or unnecessary complications. 

Normally, our lips dry out because there’s a loss of natural oils and lipids in the outer layer of this area. This then leads to a lack of hydration that causes the lips to chap. If the cracks in our lips become too deep, you could experience more serious problems like fungus or sores.

Also read: Make a Moisturizing Lip Balm to Protect Your Lips

Main causes of dry lips

The most common cause of dry lips are external or environmental factors. In these cases, you can solve the problem simply by avoiding the thing that is causing your lips to dry out. The main factors that cause our lips to dry out are:

  • Low temperatures. In the winter, or when it’s very cold, it’s common for our lips to become dry. This is because they lack sebaceous glands and, therefore, don’t produce natural protective oils. As a result, they can get irritated and start to split.
  • UV Rays. When we’re exposed to the sun without adequate protection, our lips can become dry, injured or burnt. Our lips are sensitive to ultraviolet rays.
  • Frequently licking your lips. Sometimes, our lips are slightly dry and it can cause a slight feeling of discomfort. To alleviate it, some people will suck on them or lick them. However, due to a substance in our saliva called lysozyme, this only increases the dryness.
  • Breathing through your mouth. When you breathe through your mouth, your mouth drys out which, in turn, causes dry lips.
  • Using tobacco. Tobacco can irritate and dry your lips. In addition, chewing gum and other products like foods that are too sweet, coffee, or very salty or spicy foods can also have this effect.
  • Some medications. One of the side effects of some medications is dry lips.

Keep reading: 6 Natural Remedies for Cracked Lips

Other causes of dry lips

Chapped lips.

Sometimes, our lips dry out for reasons that require more attention. Most of the time, dry lips are a temporary issue that carries certain risks; however, other times they’re caused by other illnesses. Let’s look at them:

  • Dehydration. Dry lips, especially if accompanied by dry eyes and mouth, are signs of dehydration. There are different levels of dehydration and the most severe levels are dangerous for our health, and even for our lives.
  • Allergic reaction. Some foods or cosmetic products can make our lips swollen, irritated or cracked. Also, allergic reactions could be caused by something in our environment.
  • Yeast infection. When our dry lips also cause cracks in the corner of our mouths, it’s most likely because of a yeast infection. It’s best to hydrate yourself and you should avoid licking or biting your lips.
  • Lack of vitamins. Lack of vitamin B2 affects fat metabolism and can create an imbalance in the levels of amino acids in our blood. Inflamed and chapped lips can be a sign of a deficiency in this vitamin.
  • Too much vitamin A. Dry lips can also be a sign of an excess of vitamin A. Often, this happens because we’re taking too many dietary supplements. If you take too much vitamin A, both your lips and your skin will dry out. 
  • Underlying diseases. Some diseases cause dry lips, especially diabetes and autoimmune diseases.


Most of the time, our lips dry out because of environmental factors. However, this can also be a symptom of underlying diseases, allergic reactions, or because of certain medications. If this symptom persists, or is accompanied by other problems, it’s best to talk to your doctor. 

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.