How to Heal Sore Lips

Two Parts:Healing Your LipsProtecting Your Lips from Damage

Sore lips are often a by-product of dryness and chapping, though they may also be an allergic reaction or a symptom of an underlying medical condition. By treating your lips with healing balms and avoiding behaviors that damage your lips, you should be able to eliminate lip soreness easily without medical attention. Once you've addressed the soreness successfully, make sure to take care of your lips and prevent soreness and damage in the future.

Part 1
Healing Your Lips

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    Look for lip products with petroleum. The most popular name-brand petrolatum product is Vaseline, though off-brand products are often just as effective. Though there were concerns about the safety of some petrolatum products on the European market, those issues have been resolved, and petrolatum products score well in safety ratings.[1] Petrolatum creates a protective seal over the skin that locks in moisture to prevent lips from drying out, reducing soreness.[2]
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    Use dimethicone products on your lips. Dimethicone is a moisturizing agent that can treat peeling and irritation in dehydrated skin, and heal the issues that result in soreness.[3] Be careful when using dimethicone products on your lips, though, as swallowing too much of it can be dangerous. Though it’s highly unlikely that would happen, frequent lip-lickers should take note.
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    Avoid products with harmful ingredients. It may feel good to apply lip balms that feel cool to the touch, but these products often contribute to dryness and leave your lips even more sore. If a product lists eucalyptus, menthol, or camphor in its ingredients list, look for an alternative.[4]
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    Apply lip balm before bed. This will allow the balm to moisturize your lips overnight and you will wake up with softer and less chapped lips. This is especially effective for frequent lipstick wearers, as the appearance of cracks and peeling skin through your lipstick will be less visible when you apply your lipstick in the morning.
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    Consider whether your lips are coming into contact with allergens. If your lips are sore on a regular basis despite regular use of lip balms, you may actually be suffering from an allergic reaction.[5] It may be something you’re eating, like peanuts, or it may be a product you’re putting on your lips. Common allergens in lip products include beeswax, shea butter, castor oil, and soybean oil.[6] If this is the case, switch from these plant-based moisturizers to a petroleum-based product.
    • You may need treatment with corticosteroid cream which can be applied with the fingers to the lips to relieve irritant or allergic contact dermatitis of the lips known as cheilitis.
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    Drink enough water. Keeping your body hydrated helps in virtually all of its functions and improves overall health. If your body is dehydrated, then its largest organ — the skin — will also be dry, and this can lead to lip soreness.[7] The Institute of Medicine recommends that adult women drink at least nine cups of liquid per day, and that adult men drink at least 13 cups per day.[8] This includes all liquids, including coffee, juices, and so on, and even includes the fluids contained in food.
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    Avoid activities that would further damage your lips. Taking steps to heal and hydrate your sore lips isn’t enough. You also have to make sure you’re avoiding behaviors that will prevent your lips from healing quickly. Common behaviors that contribute to lip soreness include peeling or biting on flaky skin and trying to exfoliate your lips while they’re sore.[9]
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    See a dermatologist. If your lips do not respond to the treatments listed above, there may be an underlying condition that needs to be treated. For example, swollen lips can be a symptom of Crohn’s disease, which inflames lymph ducts throughout the body.[10] Consult a dermatologist, who can provide expert medical analysis of your condition.

Part 2
Protecting Your Lips from Damage

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    Take preventative measures with lip products. Don’t wait until your lips are swollen and sore to begin treating them. Even when your lips are healthy, take care of them with moisturizing, hydration-sealing lip balms and ointments to ensure you’ll never have sore lips again.
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    Exfoliate healthy lips.[11] While it’s not recommended that you irritate sore or chapped lips, exfoliating healthy lips is an important part of your skincare routine. You can buy lip exfoliants in most places where makeup is sold; they look like a tube of lipstick, but slough off the dead skin cells in the top layer of your lips. You can also use simple household products to exfoliate healthy lips, though. Simply mix some sugar and olive oil together, then rub the mixture lightly over your lips with your fingertips.
    • Do not scrub aggressively at your lips, as this can cause damage that will lead to soreness and inflammation.
    • Moisturize your lips with a hydrating lip balm immediately after exfoliating.
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    Do not lick your lips. Some people lick their lips frequently without even thinking about it. You might think it harmless — after all, shouldn’t it hydrate your lips from the outside in? In fact, the opposite is true: when the saliva evaporates it dries out your lips, and you’re also licking away the natural oils that keep your lips healthy.[12] Make a concerted effort to stop your lip-licking habit.
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    Protect your lips from sun damage. Lips have very little melanin (the pigment that protects against harmful UV rays) compared to the rest of the skin on your body. As such, your lips are in danger of sun damage every time you step outdoors, resulting in dryness, cracking, soreness, or — in severe cases — cancerous growth. Sun exposure can also result in an outbreak of cold sores. To avoid these and other issues, make sure to coat your lips in SPF products. Most sun-protecting lip products have a fairly low SPF of 15 — these are fine for regular, daily wear; however, if you’re going to spend the day at the beach or working outside, make sure to coat your lips in a product with a higher SPF, just as you would the rest of your skin.
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    Maintain good oral health. Ensure that your lips, teeth, gums, and mouth are healthy by following guidelines for good oral health. This includes brushing your teeth twice daily or after meals, using a fluoride toothpaste. Rinse your toothbrush after use and keep it somewhere it can air dry to prevent bacteria growth.[13] Remember to floss and visit your dentist every six to 12 months for cleaning. Maintaining good dental hygiene can decrease your risk of infection and may prevent and/or heal your sore lips faster.


  • If it's a cold sore that ails you, put an ice cube on it right away.
  • Use a room humidifier at night and use chapstick before bed.
  • Using petroleum jelly at least a week will heal those crusty, sore lips.
  • Apply petroleum jelly onto your lips at night before you sleep. It'll help keep lips moisturised and, when you wake up in the morning, sore/chapped lips shouldn't be as much of a problem anymore!
  • Refrain from touching your lips. The bacteria on your fingers may spread onto your lips, making them more sore and slowing the healing process.
  • Do not go with the perfumed chapstick as it may irritate your lips even more!
  • Try to use a tube of lip balm instead of a pot. The bacteria on your fingers will spread on your lips and could infect them.
  • Rub your lips with a clear lip balm or ice.


  • Do not peel off dry skin off. This will make the lip prone to bleeding.

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Categories: Chapped Lips