Dry Peeling Lips, Causes, Remedies and Treatment

HomeLipsDry Peeling Lips, Causes, Remedies and Treatment

Dry Peeling lips are common especially in the season of spring or summer. Lips have 3-4 layers, they are prone to cuts, bruises, and seasonal changes. Peeling lips can also be a sign of anemia, STDs, vitamin deficiency, or allergies. This article provides an insight into same of the causes, symptoms, and how to stop and cure this condition at home.

Peeling lips causes

A common cause of inflamed lips is cheilitis and the symptoms can include lip swelling, redness, itchiness, burning, crusting, peeling or flaking. The most common causes of this condition include:

Dehydration: lack of enough water in your body leads to drying of lips. Dry lips peel very easily. Staying hydrated is the key to preventing and healing dry peeling lips.

Exposure to different temperature conditions: lack of moisture especially in winter, in your environment, can lead to peeling of lips.

Alcohol: alcohol dries out when exposed to air, for this reason, it is great for brush cleaner and hand sanitizer. Alcohol is not good for healing lips but instead, dries them out which can easily lead to peeling.

Licking of lips: excessive licking of lips can cause dry, peeling skin in the area around your mouth. The lips become drier and prone to peeling.

Matte lipsticks: matte lipsticks are notorious for drying out your lips. This can cause irritation that can cause or lead to dry peeling lips. You should opt for lipsticks that contain conditioners like macadamia oil.

1. Peeling lipstick

Some lip sticks contain harsh chemicals; these chemicals break down on your lips making them dry. Dry lips are prone to peeling.

Lip sticks should be able to protect your lips from the sun; these include lip gloss, which magnifies the effect from the sun. Sunburns dry lips and lead to peeling of lips.

2. Vitamin deficiency

Some vitamins are essential for bones, growth of cells and others support skin like B-complex vitamins.

Vitamin B-2           

Vitamin B-2, also called riboflavin, is a B-complex vitamin that is needed for healthy hair, nails, skin and your lips. Deficiency of this vitamin results in mouth or lip sores. To avoid this deficiency, your diet should have green leafy vegetables, nuts, lean meats or dairy products.

Vitamin B-3

Vitamin B-3, also called niacin, is a B –complex vitamin needed for healthy skin. Insufficient niacin in the diet may result in dry, cracked lips, dermatitis and red, swollen tongue and mouth. To avoid this deficiency, eat foods such as tuna, pork, cereal grains, green leafy vegetables, and milk.

Vitamin B-6

Vitamin B-6 deficiency is related to skin disorders, dermatitis, and cracks in the mouth. To add levels of B-6, also known as pyridoxine, in your diet, eat meat, whole grains, legumes and leafy vegetables.


Zinc deficiency leads to dry skin, dry peeling lips and tongue. Foods containing zinc include whole grains, beans, nuts, pork and Gouda cheese.

3. Herpes

Do you notice a tender spot on your lip while brushing or when you slick some gloss? Is it a pimple or cold sore? Cold sores which are caused by the herpes simplex 1 virus affect around 90% of adults, and are easy to confuse with other lip issues like zits, and canker sores.

peeling lips herpes
herpes causing dry lips

The best way to diagnose is to visit your doctor or a pharmacist. You are can also consult experts on how to identify a cold sore, how to treat it.

4. Cold sore

You will first feel pain and then you notice burning in your lip. You will then notice small groups of fluid-filled blisters, usually on the outer border of your lips. They will eventually pop, crust up, or form a yellowish scab. The herpes simplex 1 virus is passed through direct contact.


You can apply over-the-counter treatment like Abreva; it shortens healing time and ease issues like pain. For severe cases, ask your doctor about prescription antiviral creams or oral meds.

5. STDs

The most common STDs of the mouth are herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. The main method of transmitting STDs of the mouth is through contact with body fluids. In other cases, the presence of oral sores causes fluids from an infected partner’s genitals to enter your body, and localized infection develops. Diseases can also be transmitted from mouth of an infected person to the genitals of the other partner.


Symptoms depend on the type of STD transmitted. Symptoms of an oral STD include:

  • Sores in the mouth, may be painless
  • Red, painful throat and difficulty swallowing
  • Tonsillitis
  • Lesions similar to cold sores and fever blisters around the mouth
  • Redness with white spots resembling strep throat


Treatment also depends on the type of STD you have and the severity. These include:

Topical anesthetic to reduce pain from oral blisters and lesions

Anti-viral medications can help speed up the healing process

Conditions like oral gonorrhea are treated with a range of antibiotics called cephalosporin. Syphilis is commonly treated with peniciin, whereas oral chlamydia is treated with antibiotics such as azithromycin or doxycycline

5. Thyroid

Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in maintaining the correct metabolic rate. An underactive Thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) causes dry skin, delayed wound healing, fatigue, and depression. Hypothyroidism is as a result of failure to maintain adequate tissue levels of thyroid hormone. Thyroid gland produces two hormones that regulate cell division and metabolism. This gland is located on the neck behind the Adams apple; it is also on the same meridian line as the lips. In case this thyroid gland fails to produce enough hormones, it leads to symptoms like:

  • Pale, dry peeling lips
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Hoarse voice
  • A puffy face
  • Constipation
  • An elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Depression
  • Pain and stiffness in your joints and swelling in your knees or the small joints in your hands and feet

Hypothyroidism is easy to diagnose. Since the purpose of thyroid gland is to put thyroid hormones into the blood stream, thyroid blood tests can easily measure thyroid gland function. Failure to treat this condition on time may lead to severe condition. Constant stimulation of thyroid to release more hormones may lead to an enlarged thyroid (goiter).

6. Anxiety

Peeling lips is in most cases as a result of dry lips. There are several issues that lead to dry mouth as a result of anxiety, these include;

Mouth breathing: anxiety makes you breathe through your mouth which is irritating to the saliva. This may dry out your tongue in a way that the mouth dries too. This dryness leads to peeling of lips.

Lip picking: this is a rare habit that one acquires in order to relieve anxiety or stress. This has been noted as a kind of obsessive compulsive disorder that is presented by the impulsive biting of the lips along with the inside of the cheeks. This anxiety disorder leads to following effects on your lips;

  • Lip soreness
  • Flaky and dry peeling lips because of dryness
  • Inflamed lips with bleeding tendencies
  • Scarring- in case it becomes chronic and damaging to the lips

Dehydration: anxiety leads to dryness in the mouth. If you don’t drink enough water, you are more likely to experience severe symptoms of peeling lips.

Acid reflux: during periods of intense anxiety, the body is more prone to acid reflux; this can affect the salivary glands and hence result to less saliva. This causes dry mouth which makes lips prone to peeling.

Fluid changes: when you experience severe anxiety problems, your body moves the fluids like saliva and water to the areas that they are needed more. This may lead to dry mouth hence peeling of lips.

7. Allergy

Allergy causes inflammation of lips, the most common cause of inflammation of lips allergic contact cheilitis. Allergic contact cheilitis is allergic contact dermatitis affecting lips, it is due to a type of IV hypersensitivity reaction following contact with an allergen and it usually presents as an eczema-like inflammation of outer lip. This condition is more common in women than men. It can affect all age groups, though adults are more commonly affected than children.

Allergens causing this condition vary in different age groups. These differences reflect the usage patterns of the different age groups and sexes. Lip cosmetics are the most common allergen source in men. Reactions to food mainly affect children. Toothpaste affect men and medications affect the elderly.

Major sources of allergens causing contact cheilitis include:

  • Medications
  • Lipsticks and other lip cosmetics including sunscreens
  • Toothpaste and other dental care products like dental floss, mouthwash, and toothpicks
  • Metals- dental restorations, habitual sucking of metal objects, and orthodontic devices
  • Rubber or latex gloves- this involves transfer of allergens from gloves worn on hands

8. Candida

Candida infection, also known as Candidiasis, is a common infection caused by strains of fungi, or yeast. Candida normally lives harmlessly in the body, but under conditions it may multiply out of control. Candida infection is named according to the area of the body in which it occurs. Oral thrush, also known as oral candidiasis is a recurrent infection that affects moist surfaces around the lips, inside the cheeks and on the tongue and palate. This condition is not contagious.

Candida Albicans is the most commonly implicated organism in this condition. It is carried in the mouths of about 50% of world’s population as a normal component of the oral micro biota.

Oral candidiasis distinguishes primary oral candidiasis, where the condition is confined to the mouth and perioral tissues, and secondary oral candidiasis, where there is involvement of other parts of the body in addition to the mouth.

Factors that can predispose you to candida overgrowth:

  • Medications such as steroid hormones, anti-inflammatory drugs and immunosuppressant, ulcer medications or acid blockers used for prolonged period
  • Antibiotics can reduce the number of friendly intestinal bacteria which normally help to keep candida under control.
  • Immune deficiency diseases such as AIDS and cancer can weaken your immune system. The immune system is weaker in the elderly.

9. Exfoliative Cheilitis

Exfoliative cheilitis is the common and persistent occurrence of peeling and dry lip. This condition leads to the following symptoms:

  • Lips appear cracked or fissured- this occurs because of dehydration
  • Lips that continuously flake or that is always chapped
  • Lips that are red, irritated, inflamed, and have a burning sensation causing a lot of discomfort and sore.

Exfoliative cheilitis affects both males and females, mostly those young people less than 30 years. The most regular occurrence of this condition is likely to aggravate due to the abnormal psychological state of self-damaging behavior in one way or the other. Some of the factors that enable cheilitis include;

This condition is also likely to affect people with:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • HIV infection
  • Sensitive skin
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Unhealthy lifestyle and hormonal imbalances

Peeling cycle of Exfoliative cheilitis

Day 1: during this stage, the lips seem normal. There might be some changes on inside the skin cells but are unfelt.

Day 2: during this stage, the borders of lip skin start worsening and the connecting areas become prominent due to the reddish outline. There is irritation while talking; you could also feel stiffness and inflammation especially around the area due to dry lips.

Day 3: at this stage, the lips begin to harden, swell and the contours start deepening along with emergence of blood on deep sites. The infection is most likely to happen along with abnormal flaking.

Day 4: there is discomfort and struggle during this stage but not as much as previous days

Day 5. The flaking becomes more prevalent, and the dead skin hardens. Care is required at this stage.

How to prevent this condition

It is a common saying that prevention is better than cure. The following are the measures you should take to prevent occurrence of this condition

  • Proper water intake to avoid dehydration
  • Maintaining proper oral hygiene
  • Get rid of toxins
  • Use of sunscreens to avoid sun heat
  • Frequent exfoliation and miniaturization


  • Natural lip balms
  • Coconut oil
  • Lactic acid based lotions or creams
  • Cold compressing with vinegar and water
  • Soft dabbing with glycerin and milk cream
  • Drinking plenty of water


Common accompanying symptoms will include the following:

1. Burning and peeling lips

Are you wondering what is causing burning and peeling of your lips? Lip rashes can be caused by various conditions. The general condition of inflamed lips is called cheilitis. It is characterized by lip swelling, redness, and itchiness, burning, peeling or flaking. Scalding drinks or food fresh from the oven may burn lips, creating a painful and puffy condition.

There are several types of treatments to offer relief; there are also some preventive steps you should take to keep your lips healthy and hydrated. To relieve burned, swollen lips, cold compress for 10 minutes, you can also dip a clean towel in cold milk and press tightly on your lips to ease swelling.

2. Inside lip peeling

Why is inside of your lip peeling? That is where the teeth rub against the lips. Some types of oral piercings that get into contact with the lips may cause ulceration and skin peeling. The peeling could also be as result of burns from beverages and they present as blisters.

peeling inside lips
peeling inside lips

3. Peeling lips but not chapped

This could be as a result of constant licking of lips that causes drying and irritation. The lips also have a tendency to dry out in cold or dry weather, this may lead to peeling but no chapping is observed in these cases.

4. Peelings lips but not dry

What causes dry lips? There are several conditions that lead to lips getting dry, these include; lack of humidity in the air, especially during winter is known to cause dry lips, frequent exposure to sun rays, habitual licking can cause drying of lips- this is because saliva from tongue strip the lips of moisture. These conditions not only cause dryness but also lead to peeling of lips.

On the other hand, there are conditions that could cause peeling lips without drying lips.

How to stop peeling lips

Peeling lips is a condition that is stressful to many people. Although this condition can be easily cured, taking good care of your lips will keep them smooth and halt peeling of lips. You should consider preventive measures like protecting your lips from wind and sun, use the right types of products on your lips and avoid the ones causing irritation and peeling. You can also adjust your lifestyle to make it easier like drinking a lot of water and sleeping in a more humid environment to stop lips from peeling.

To stop dry peeling lips, you can try the following:

1. Taking preventive measures

Preventive measures are meant to protect your lips from irritants, these include:

  • Use of sunscreen- exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays can cause cracking and peeling of your lips. You should, therefore, avoid unnecessary sun exposure by applying sunscreen to your lips.
  • Talk to your doctor- if you suspect your lips peel as a result of an allergic reaction or other underlying medical conditions, talk to your doctor. Lips can peel due to allergic reaction to products like toothpaste or lipstick, foods, beverages, or medication.

2. Use right types of products

You should carefully select the products to avoid irritating your lips;

  • Wear moisturizing lips balm- you should choose a lip balm that contains nourishing ingredients like coconut, almond oil and beeswax. You should apply it all day and throughout the night to keep the lips moisturized. A great choice would be 100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Balm (Check prices on Amazon)
  • Avoid irritating ingredients- you should ensure that you’re the cosmetics you wear don’t do you more harm than good. For instance, products like menthol, alcohol, and fragrances can irritate your lips and can cause peeling.
  • Use a sugar-based lip scrub- scrubs containing ingredients like salt can cause inflammation to your peeling lips. You should make a sugar-based lip scrub for exfoliating your lips; this will gently slough off peeling skin.

3. Make easy lifestyle changes

The kind of lifestyle you have highly influences the nature of your skin.

Use a humidifier– You can replace moisture in the air with a humidifier. Lack of moisture in your indoor environment can lead to chapped or dry peeling lips.

Drink plenty of water– men should aim for 3 liters of water per day while women should consume around 2.2 litres per day, this helps to keep your body hydrated and prevent peeling of lips.

How do you cure peeling lips?

The following are common remedies used on dry peeling lips. These remedies not only cure the peeling lips but also stop any further peeling by curing the infections (if any).

Gentle scrubbing

This is done to get rid of dead skin that peels from your lips. Wet your toothbrush, dunk it in baking soda, and scrub your lips gently in circular motions to remove flakes.

Olive oil

This remedy is used along with cayenne pepper. It not only helps in stopping the peeling of lips but also cures them.


  • Take spoon of olive oil
  • Mix it with cayenne pepper.
  • Apply it directly on your lips and wash it off after some time.


Sugar is a natural softener, which exfoliates the dead cells of the peeling lips and restores the smoothness.


  • Mix some sugar with one teaspoon of honey and apply the paste on your lips.
  • Use your fingers to gently rub the mixture around the lips.
  • Leave it for a few seconds then wash it with lukewarm water.

Dry peeling lips remedies

At home, you can treat peeling lips using the following remedies.

1. Coconut oil

Coconut is a natural moisturizer that can help in healing peeling lips. You simply apply pure coconut oil several times in a day until the lips stop peeling.

2. Castor oil

Apply castor oil to your lips and then cover them with a thin layer of petroleum jelly. You should repeat this frequently, within a week there will be significant changes on your peeling lips. We recommend USDA Organic Cold-Pressed, 100% Pure Castor Oil (Check price on Amazon).

3. Glycerin

Glycerin helps to raise the moisture level of skin. It is one of the best natural humectants (retains moisture), which relieves dryness by sealing the required moisture. You should apply few drops of glycerin to your lips before going to bed. This will help to repair the damaged tissues, speed up the healing process, and protect the lips for conditions that lead to peeling.

4. Aloe Vera gel

Aloe vera contains healing properties that help in curing peeling lips. This gel is applied directly on the affected area of the lips; it not only heals but also relieves pain. It may have unpleasant taste but has powerful remedial features.

We recommend Aloe Vera gel for skin by FineVine (Check price on Amazon).

5. Petroleum jelly

Petroleum jelly is the most effective and easiest way of treating dry peeling lips. You simply apply the jelly over lips several times a day. This helps provide proper nourishment and protection.

6. Mustard oil

Mustard oil is a remedy that has been in use for a long time in countries like India. This oil helps in softening your lips and therefore it would stop the peeling on your lips. You need to massage a few drops of mustard oil on the affected area. The idea is to keep your lips moist. You should apply this before you sleep and ensure the lips are clean.

  • Mustard Oil Organic Unrefined by H&B OILS CENTER

7. Milk cream

The milk cream is a natural moisturizer, which can be applied daily and directly on the lips. Gently wash it with lukewarm water; this serves as an excellent treatment for severe dry lips. Apply this twice a day.

8. Cucumber

Cucumber juice or a slice of cucumber can be applied over lips to make them gentle and soft. This is an effective cure for dry peeling lips.

9. Drinking plenty of water

Dehydration is the major cause of dry skin. For this reason, you should ensure that you drink plenty of water in order to stay hydrated. You should avoid soda, tea, and juice or coffee, these can make the problem worse.

10. Honey

Honey help is a natural humectant. It also contains natural anti-bacterial properties. These properties make honey an effective remedy for curing dry peeling lips as well as retaining moisture. You should use your finger to apply a little honey on the affected area.


  1. Natural ways to cure chapped cracked and peeling lips: https://healdove.com/alternative-medicine/11-Natural-Ways-to-Cure-Dry-Chapped-Cracked-and-Peeling-lips-with-Homemade-Remedies
  2. Why are my lips chapped? http://www.webmd.com/beauty/why-your-lips-are-chapped#1
  3. How to stop lips getting dry and flaky: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/ask-the-expert/skin-and-hair/a3122/how-can-i-stop-my-lips-getting-dry-and-flaky/
  4. Dry patch on the lip: http://www.doctorshealthpress.com/general-health-articles/treating-dry-patch-on-lip
  5. Exfoliative cheilitis: http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/exfoliative-cheilitis/

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