Winter weather can take a major toll on your pucker. Not only is the air extra cold and harsh – it’s also super dry, and that means the air around you can be pulling moisture from your lips all day long. You can’t escape by going indoors either, because heated air can be just as dry as the air outdoors. What’s more, while we generally take extra care to cover up our hands, heads, and the rest of our bodies when we head outside, our lips are left exposed and vulnerable. Since lip skin is actually thinner and more delicate than the surrounding skin, it’s not surprising they take the brunt of winter’s worst – and wind up getting chapped, flaky, and cracked as a result.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to protect your lips and keep them feeling and looking their best:
- First, don’t lick your lips. It may seem like licking dry lips is a convenient way to keep them moist. But actually, licking your lips speeds up evaporation and increases the drying effect of cold and dry air. Plus, the enzymes in your saliva can make chapping worse.
- Don’t pick at your lips. All that dry, flaky skin can be annoying, but picking at it will only increase irritation on your lips – and that can wind up increasing the flakiness. Plus, removing skin from your lips means your lips are more prone to infections and sores, especially during winter when cold and flu germs are rampant – and probably lurking on your fingers.
- Use an ointment-based balm. These thicker balms are designed to soothe dry, cracked lips, with ingredients to heal cracks so lips have time to heal. Many lip ointments contain petroleum (or petrolatum), while natural-based ointments typically use products like shea butter or coconut or jojoba oils. Both types are fine to use, so select the one that feels and works best for your needs.
- Don’t forget the sunscreen. Your lips can get burned just like the rest of your skin, and like the rest of your skin, they need to be protected all year round. When choosing a balm, look for one with sunscreen “built in” and use it every time you go outdoors, reapplying it frequently.
- Balm before bed. Giving your lips a coat of lip balm before bed means they’re protected all night long, softening and healing lips while you sleep.
If you notice any hard-to-heal sores on your lips or any areas of discoloration, call the Avail Dermatology office right away. Remember – good lip care takes just a few moments of your day, but in the end, your lips will be soft and supple!