If your eyes are the windows to the soul, your lips are like the door. We don’t have to list out the reasons why they’re so important - so it is definitely a problem when they’re sore, rough and cracked. Nobody needs a painful smile.
The skin on your lips is thinner, with just a third of the cellular layers compared to the rest of the body. Also, there aren’t any moisturising sweat glands on the surface. That is why even licking your lips can wreck damage and dry them out - so it’s extremely important to hydrate and protect.
That being said, sometimes no matter how well you maintain your pucker or how much lip balm you slather over your lips, they are still dry, scaly and itchy. Why?
If you find yourself with chapped itchy lips, it could be a sign of a condition called cheilitis. It usually occurs around the borders of the lips, though the surrounding skin and the mouth cavity may also be affected.
Symptoms of cheilitis
Cheilitis may cause itching, a burning sensation or pain. It can be due to multiple factors, both internal and external. The most common are eczema, chronic sun exposure and infection.
Lip dryness due to internal diseases is less common. Eczematous cheilitis is the most common cause. This may be due to skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis or by contact with allergic or irritant materials, or both. In both situations, you may have rashes elsewhere on your body.
Causes of cheilitis
It is important to note that multiple factors may co-exist for any person who is affected. Irritation or allergy by foods, pharmaceutical products (such as sunscreens), fragrances, cosmetics, oral hygiene products and preservatives are the common culprits.