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Are Chapped Lips A Sign of Dehydration? Causes and Treatments

Dry chapped lips feel like so much more than a case of dry skin. When your lips are chapped the dryness and cracking can cause pain and discomfort. But what causes chapped lips? We’re aware that cold, dry air can quickly sap the moisture from our mouths, but what other factors influence lip health? For example, does a dehydrated body cause dehydrated lips? To better understand a possible chapped lips dehydration connection, it’s necessary to understand chapped lips.

What are the Symptoms of Chapped Lips?

Peeling Skin

If the skin on or around your lips is peeling, don’t bite or tear it off. That can worsen the problem and lead to wounds.

Itchy Lips

Once again, try not to rip or tear at your lips if you’re experiencing this symptom.


These can be painful to the touch and complicate eating or drinking.

Mild Pain

This is independent of sores and is often accompanied by inflammation.

Scaling Skin

This can lead to peeling or flaking.

What Causes Chapped Lips?

Bad Habits

Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, licking your lips can have an outcome that’s opposite what you intended. Licking your lips makes sense if they’re feeling dry, right? It applies moisture from your mouth to your lips like a natural balm, solving the problem. While it’s a true short-term solution, that saliva will pull moisture from your lips when it evaporates, exacerbating the problem.

Smoking can also dry out the lips.


Cooler weather in the fall and winter months can play havoc with lips. This is because lower humidity levels can sap latent moisture from the air. Additionally, too much sun in any season can also cause damage that manifests as cracking and dryness. The ultraviolet rays from the Sun may be even more dangerous than the cold—that radiation can cause actinic keratosis, or bumps that form on the lips and carry the potential to become cancerous. These should be removed by a physician.

Nutrient Deficiency

Dry, chapped lips can be a sign your diet is insufficient at providing certain nutrients.

Zinc contributes to healthy skin, and a deficiency can cause dryness.

Iron also plays a role in healthy skin, but it also helps the body heal wounds. Because of this, a lack of iron can both cause dry lips and hinder the body while it’s trying to remedy the issue.

Deficiency of vitamins B2, B6, B9 or B12 can also be counted as a possible cause for chapped lips.

Conversely, an overabundance of vitamin A can cause chapped lips.

Ingredients in food

Flavorings, including cinnamon, citrus, peppermint and mint can irritate and worsen chapped lips. Long-term contact with salt can also be debilitating to your lips.

Yeast Infection

It may sound strange, but the buildup of warm saliva can lead to an oral yeast infection. Symptoms include pain while swallowing, cottonmouth and dry or cracked lips.

Are Chapped Lips Linked to Dehydration?

A lack of proper hydration has far-reaching consequences for the human body, including dehydrated skin. However, lips don’t have the oil glands found elsewhere on human skin, so they can’t fight back against dehydration with their own moisture. Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water may be all that stands between you and healthy lips.

How To Treat Chapped Lips

Luckily, dry, chapped lips is a common problem and a number of treatment options exist. From the useful home remedies that spawned mass market products to the easy options that can be integrated into your everyday life, chapped lips are a treatable and avoidable affliction.

Apply a Balm

The right lip balm will contain petroleum jelly or shea butter and preferably feature protection against the Sun. Avoid balms that feature menthol, eucalyptus or any sort of fragrance. Options containing those substances can irritate the lips and could possibly cause an allergic reaction.

Apply this balm before bed and several times throughout the day. Balms that include titanium oxide or zinc oxide protect against the Sun. Aim for SFP 30 or higher.

Breathe Through the Nose

Sure, mouth breathing has a stigma attached to it, but in this case, it’s a very undesirable habit to hold onto.

The warm air exhaled by the lungs can cause any moisture to evaporate faster than it would if breaths were exhaled through the nose. In addition to this bad habit, try to also avoid licking dry lips. Both can work on the subconscious level to sabotage your lips, but paying attention to them can make a difference.

Purchase a humidifier

Having a humidifier running in areas where you spend the majority of your time can have a positive impact on your skin health, including your lips. Humidifiers can also work to improve the state of your nose and throat.

Visit a Dermatologist

This is especially true if chapped lips last longer than a few weeks, or symptoms don’t dissipate after remedies are attempted. Those dry lips may be more than that–they may be a case of eczema or dermatitis that’s appeared on the lips. Dry lips could also be caused by an infection.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration symptoms come in a number of forms. Everything from impaired cognitive function and altered mood to physical exhaustion and hunger can stem from a case of dehydration, and it can alter the lips, too. Staying hydrated is good for your skin, but since lips are thin layers of skin that can’t produce their own moisture, lips are specifically susceptible to the perils of dehydration.

Maintain Optimal Hydration With DripDrop and Save 25%

Dry, chapped lips can be painful, uncomfortable and unsightly, but a number of treatment methods exist for alleviating symptoms and eventually returning your lips to normal. Since hydration is such an important part of other bodily functions, focusing on it may be a good place to start.

An oral rehydration solution is filled with the electrolytes necessary for the body to take full advantage of the moisture it’s receiving when that ORS is mixed with water and consumed. DripDrop's patented fomula contains three times the electrolytes of a sports drink with only half the sugar, and with 25% off a subscription, it’s easy to make an ORS part of your daily health routine. If you’re unsure which flavors to subscribe to or you’re looking for variety, try the multi-flavor pouches.

Additionally, for those looking for dehydration relief without the sugar, DripDrop offers DripDrop Zero, a zero sugar option.