Tips & Tricks For Cracked Lips And Dry Skin

During the colder fall, winter, and spring seasons, many people experience dry skin and cracked lips. This happens for several reasons. First, air that’s cold and dry tends to be less humid, causing water to evaporate from the skin faster. Second, indoor heating also dehydrates your skin, which can lead to dry skin, cracked lips, and nosebleeds. Third, many people don’t apply lotion as frequently in the winter months since most of their skin is covered by warm clothing. And lastly, the warm baths and hot showers people tend to take to warm up when they come in from the cold also serve to dry skin out faster.

If you’re prone to cracked lips and dry skin, here are several tips and tricks that might help!

1. Drink plenty of fluids.

While you may not feel as thirsty in colder weather as you do in warmer temperatures, it’s important to remember to continue to drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated is good for your overall health, and it prevents your skin (which is your body’s largest organ!) from becoming dry and cracked.

The recommended amount of fluid you should drink a day varies depending on your weight, body composition, and activity level, but a general rule of thumb is to drink 1 ounce of fluid for every kilogram you weigh. It’s wise to avoid or limit beverages containing caffeine or alcohol since these are diuretics that accelerate fluid loss.

2. Increase your omega-3 intake.

Omega-3 fatty acids keep your skin hydrated by providing a barrier around skin cells that keeps water in and keeps irritants out. You can increase your omega-3 intake by taking a supplement, or by adding more nuts, seeds, plant-based oils, soybeans, and fatty fish to your diet.

3. Take shorter, cooler showers.

Even though it’s tempting to take a long, hot shower after spending time outdoors in cold weather, this actually contributes to skin dryness. Dermatologists recommend limiting your baths and showers to 10 minutes or less and using tepid water. Also, keeping the bathroom door closed while you shower can help hydrate your skin by concentrating the steam.

4. Wear protective clothing outdoors.

Skin that’s exposed to cold, dry air will become dehydrated faster. So, whenever you go outdoors, cover as much of your skin as possible. Hats, scarves, gloves, coats, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and boots can help keep your skin hydrated when the temperatures drop.

5. Moisturize your skin well.

Even though much of your skin might not be showing in your warm clothes, make sure you remember to apply moisturizer at least once a day. It’s best to use a non-scented moisturizer that has a high oil content since this helps to not only rehydrate your skin but also prevent moisture from leaving your skin.

Products that contain ingredients like glycerin, petrolatum, silicone, linoleic, lanolin, and mineral oil tend to be more effective than water-based products. It's important to have a healthy skin care routine. Scrubbing your face too aggressively, or using harsh skin products like chemical peels can do more harm than good because they irritate the skin, leading to rashes, redness, and acne. Using a cream-based lotion or ointment is the best way to intensely hydrate your skin and keep your skin healthy during the winter.

6. Take care of your lips.

While it’s tempting to lick your lips when they’re chapped, this actually chaps them more! So, take care of your lips by resisting the urge to lick them when they’re dry. Keep lip balm in your pockets, car, purse, bathroom, etc. so you always have easy access when you’re lips start to feel dry.

Also, remember to apply lip balm frequently when you’re outdoors. If you’re engaging in outdoor winter activities like skiing, snowboarding or sledding, consider using a lip balm that contains SPF. Avoid lip balms that contain menthol, camphor, phenol, or any sort of alcohol. These ingredients may provide an immediate cooling sensation but may eventually irritate the skin on and around your lips, causing more dryness or cracking.

7. Use a humidifier.

Since both cold outdoor air and warm air from your heating system are dry, your skin can quickly lose the moisture it needs to stay healthy.  One effective way to combat this problem is to run a humidifier near you whenever you’re indoors. Depending on the make and model of your furnace, you may also be able to add a humidifier attachment to your heating system to humidify your entire home.

8. Lower the thermostat.

The warmer the air inside your home, the faster your skin will dry out because water evaporates faster from warm surfaces than cooler surfaces. Since this is the case, consider keeping your thermostat at a lower temperature. If you’re cold, use a blanket or add a layer of clothes instead of bumping up the heat.


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Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant