Are your suffering from burning, chapped lips? You could have a condition called lip licker’s dermatitis. Find out what this lip licking condition is and what you can do about it.
As the temperature drops and cold weather makes its debut, the skin becomes dry and moisture starved and so do lips. Burning, chapped, flaky lips are a common problem in cold climates. Unfortunately, many people contribute to the problem by constantly licking their lips to relieve the dryness which can lead to a condition known as lip licking dermatitis or lip licker’s dermatitis.
Lip Licker’s Dermatitis
What exactly is lip licking dermatitis? When lips are exposed to the cold, particularly cold, dry winds, they become dry and irritated. When this happens, there’s a natural, sometimes unconscious, tendency for a person to lick their lips to relieve the dryness. Unfortunately, exposing already burning, chapped lips to saliva only worsens the condition – leading to a vicious cycle of lip licking, dryness, redness, and chapping. This problem is especially common among children and it can be difficult to break their lip licking habit.
Lip licking dermatitis is worsened by licking the lips because moisture from the saliva dries out the lips even further. This leads to further dryness, chapping, and scaling which can extend outside the borders of the lips onto the skin around the mouth causing redness and skin irritation. In some cases, repetitive lip licking is caused by stress and anxiety which makes the lip licking habit even more difficult to break.
How to Treat Lip Licking Dermatitis
As might be expected, it’s important to break the lip licking habit since the dryness and irritation won’t resolve until the constant lip licking stops. Secondly, an emollient should be applied to the lips and around the edges of the mouth every few hours. This not only helps to heal burning, chapped lips, it also reduces the need to constantly wet the lips. Vaseline or shea butter with aloe works well for this purpose. When lip licking dermatitis is caused by stress, emollients alone may not be enough and measures should be taken to reduce stress levels.
If lip licking dermatitis doesn’t resolve after a few weeks, a dermatologist should be consulted since burning chapped, chapped lips can have other causes. Some cases of lip licker’s dermatitis may be so severe that a steroid based cream is needed to reduce the inflammation, but this should only be used as a last resort and only after other causes of lip irritation have been excluded.
How to Prevent Lip Licker’s Dermatitis
To prevent lip licking dermatitis in the winter and reduce the tendency to lick the lips, wear a light coating of unflavored, unscented lip balm when you go out into the cold air. Don’t let the burning, chapped lips of lip licker’s dermatitis get the best of you. Protect your lips against the cold, dry air.