We have all been there and applied lip balms all day to no relief from dry, cracked lips. You may think it's just an annoying side effect of cold or dry weather, or maybe even the result of an ineffective lip balm – both of which can cause clapped lips. But apparently your cut lips can be a sign of an even bigger issue overall: dry skin.
Why are cut lips a potential sign of dry skin?
As Rita Linkner, a New York City-based dermatologist puts it, lips are thinner than the rest of your skin, so you can use them as a kind of litmus test for your skin's hydration level.
"Lips lack a skin layer called stratum corneum, which is why they are extra sensitive and a perfect barometer for how dry the rest of the skin on the face is," she explains. Stratum corneum, by the way, is the outermost layer of the skin barrier, which means it is the skin's first line of defense against environmental stressors.
Because of this, Linkner says having cut lips can mean that you need to moisturize your entire face more often each day rather than just apply a little lip balm. "I ask my patients to 'read your lips', which means your lips are cut then [you need to] does a better and more frequent job of moisturizing the skin, she explains.
"When the lips are dry, they often have a burning or stinging sensation from microscopic breaks in the barrier, which people call 'chopped lips'," he explains. In most cases, there is some external aggravating factor, such as licking their lips chronically or an irritation or allergy from a current substance used in the area, "he says. toothpaste.
How can I tell if my dry lips are caused by dry skin?
However, how can you distinguish the difference between cut lips caused by dry skin and cut lips caused by an external irritation? Both Linkner and Bloom agree that the answer is simple: It is best for a dermatologist to diagnose the cause of cut lips because it is so difficult to discern.
What moisturizer should I use, then?
However, it is important to keep your skin hydrated no matter what effect it has on your lips. Linkner's advice is to always be on the lookout for products that contain ceramides, which "represent the glue that holds the skin cells together." In other words, ceramides are the fat molecules in the skin barrier that keep it hydrated and full. Integrating them into your skin routine will strengthen your skin barrier, and using moisturizing products can help prevent dry skin – and lips – even longer, Linkner says.
"Lanolin, cholesterol and squalene are also important ingredients to look for in moisturizing moisturizers that work to lock in the water content," she says.
What if it doesn't work?
If you know your skin is as hydrated as possible and you still have constantly cut lips, try Bloom's advice: "It's worth using a scent-free petroleum-based lip balm like Vaseline or Aquaphor. Try to minimize licking your lips. Avoid products. which has many additives, because they can sometimes make things worse.
If you have a severe case of dry lips or dry skin, however, you should consult your local dermatologist for other solutions.
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