Momentum in the Mountains 2024


Why Are My Lips So Dry? Five Causes of Dry Lips

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Do you often ask yourself, “Why are my lips so dry?” 

The delicate skin on your lips doesn’t contain oil glands and is naturally dry. However, vitamin deficiencies, sun exposure, dehydration, and harsh temperature can cause excessive dryness and lip licking, quickly leading to cracked lips.

Learn why lip balm isn’t the best option to treat dry lips and how to heal chapped lips naturally.   

Chapped lips

Five causes of dry lips

Lips are naturally dry as they don’t contain sebaceous glands, which secrete oils, wax, and cholesterol that keep skin moisturized and protected.

Lips also have a much thinner layer of skin than the rest of the body, making lips more susceptible to dryness and irritation.   

While occasional dry lips are typically nothing to worry about, severely chapped lips can be painful and irritating and may be a sign that your body lacks essential nutrients. 

Here are five common causes of dry lips. 

1. Nutrient deficiencies 

Healthy skin—including lip skin—requires several nutrients, including vitamin B2 and zinc. 

Vitamin B2 plays a vital role in the renewal of skin cells and is involved in producing moisturizing factors that keep lips hydrated. Lack of adequate vitamin B2 is one of the most common causes of dry lips. 

Vitamin B2 deficiency can develop due to excessive alcohol consumption, birth control medication, and a high-carb diet causing an increased vitamin B2 turnover.  

Zinc, on the other hand, is an essential mineral needed to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier, prevents fluid loss and dryness, and is crucial for skin repair and regeneration. Zinc deficiency can prolong the time it takes for chapped lips to heal. 

While zinc is found in many foods, a high-grain diet can significantly increase the risk of zinc deficiency. Most grains contain several anti-nutrients, including phytic acid, that inhibits the gastrointestinal absorption of zinc. 

Candida word on wooden blocks

2. Yeast infections 

In some cases, persistently dry and irritated lips may be caused by oral yeast infections. 

Research published in PLOS ONE found that oral thrush, typically linked to Candida yeast overgrowth, can trigger inflammation and cause painful cracks at the corners of the mouth, which can lead to lip dryness and discomfort.  


Yeast thrives on sugar which explains why a high-carb diet, in combination with weak immune defenses, increases the risk of yeast and fungal infections. 

3. Dehydration 

Without adequate hydration, the integrity of the skin barrier can become compromised, which allows moisture loss and makes lips more susceptible to dryness and cracking. 

“In most cases, dehydration is linked to an imbalance of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium,” explains Dr. Berg. “Potassium plays a vital role in maintaining fluid balance and keeping body tissues hydrated. Lack of adequate electrolytes can affect the moisture levels in lips and lead to dryness.”

4. Sun exposure 

Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted from the sun can damage the delicate skin on your lips. 

Excessive UV radiation has been found to trigger the breakdown of skin collagen and elastin fibers, which disrupts the integrity of lip skin, increases moisture loss, and impairs skin cell renewal. 

5. Cold weather and dry air 

Cold weather conditions and low humidity increase the risk of dry and flaking lips. 

Cold and dry air contains less moisture which exacerbates fluid loss from the skin, including the lips. This explains why cold and dry weather can cause chapped lips. 

Watch the video below to learn how to prevent chapped lips naturally.  

How to get rid of chapped lips

To prevent and get rid of chapped lips, it’s crucial to address the underlying causes rather than reapply lip balm several times a day. 

In fact, many products advertised as moisturizing lip balm contain petroleum jelly, a mix of mineral oil and waxes. 

Research published in Gastroenterology found that mineral oil can lower cellular concentrations of nutrients, which may worsen chapped lips caused by nutritional deficiencies.  

Most lip balms also contain synthetic preservatives that can cause irritations and break down the natural barrier function of lip skin, leaving your lips prone to dryness and chapping.

Here are five natural remedies for dry and chapped lips.

1. Nutrient-rich diet 

Consuming plenty of foods rich in vitamin B2, including egg yolks, organic dairy products, nuts, and green leafy vegetables, can support healthy skin barrier function and stimulate the regeneration of skin cells. 

To promote the healing of chapped lips, increase your intake of zinc-rich foods such as oysters, shellfish, meat, fish, dairy, and nuts. 

In addition, eating grains and sugars depletes nutrients, including vitamin B2 and zinc, and switching to a nutritious low-carb diet like Healthy Keto® can be an excellent choice to keep lips hydrated and soft.  

2. Aloe vera

Aloe vera has soothing and moisturizing properties that protect lip skin from harsh weather conditions and may help to heal chapped lips. 

Applying aloe vera to dry lips minimizes the urge to lick your lips and relieves dry and irritated skin. 

3. Hydration 

Staying hydrated is vital to heal dry lips. However, just drinking water may not be the best way to stay hydrated

Lack of adequate potassium intake is widespread, and potassium deficiency can disrupt the body’s fluid balance despite drinking plenty of water. 

Increase potassium-rich foods such as avocados, spinach, beet greens, and broccoli, or consider taking a high-quality potassium electrolyte powder. 

4. Manage potential yeast infections

Yeasts thrive on a high-carb diet, and avoiding refined carbs and sugars is one of the most effective ways to kill Candida and other yeasts.   


If you suspect that your dry lips may be linked to a yeast infection, there are several natural remedies, such as garlic, thyme oil, or medium chain triglycerides (MCT), with potent anti-candida effects

5. Sunscreen

If your lips are prone to sunburn, applying sunscreen to protect your lips' delicate skin from potentially harmful UV radiation can be helpful to minimize sun damage and dry lips.  

Angular cheilitis

How long does it take for dry lips to heal?

How long it takes for dry lips to heal depends on the severity of dry lip skin and the underlying cause.   

While most cases of chapped lips can improve within a few days, more severe cases of cracked, irritated, and bleeding lips can take one to two weeks to improve.

If you suffer from chronic chapped lips or persistent cracked corners of the mouth that won’t improve, it’s crucial to consult a dermatologist to evaluate potential underlying causes and formulate an appropriate treatment plan to heal your lips.  

Man touching his lips

Key takeaways

Nutrient deficiencies, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, sun exposure, or harsh weather conditions are often the reason why your lips are so dry. 

Rather than using lip balms that may worsen your dry lips, it’s essential to address the underlying cause of dry lips. 

Staying hydrated, replenishing electrolytes, and avoiding refined carbs and sugars promote healthy skin barrier function and can help to heal cracked and dry lips. 


1. How do you get rid of extremely dry lips?

To get rid of extremely dry lips, it’s crucial to address the underlying cause of chapped and peeling lips.  

A nutritious low-carb diet, plenty of vitamin B2-rich foods such as egg yolks, organic dairy products, and green leafy vegetables, replenishing electrolytes, and using sunscreen can help to support healthy lip skin and prevent chapped lips. 

2. Are dry lips a symptom of anything?

Your lips can say a lot about your health. Dry lips can indicate nutrient deficiencies, dehydration, and yeast infections or may be caused by harsh weather conditions or sun damage.  

3. What is the main cause of dry lips?

Nutrient deficiencies are amongst the most common causes of dry lips. 

Vitamin B2 and zinc play an essential role in maintaining the integrity of lip skin, and deficiency can significantly increase the risk of chapped lips and cracks in the corners of the mouth. 

4. Why are my lips so dry even though I drink a lot of water?

While dehydration can make your lips feel dry, it’s only one of several potential causes for chapped lips. 

Suffering dehydrated lips, despite drinking plenty of water, may be linked to low potassium, an essential electrolyte involved in maintaining the body’s fluid levels.  

5. Why won't my chapped lips heal?

Chapped lips that won’t heal can indicate a nutrient deficiency, electrolyte imbalances, or dehydration, and applying lip balm won’t be an effective treatment. 

In addition, constant picking and licking of your lips can worsen cracked skin and exacerbate chapped lips. Using aloe vera to soothe irritated lips in combination with a nutritious low-carb diet can help to heal dry lips.   

6. What vitamin deficiency causes dry lips?

Vitamin B2 deficiency can interfere with the renewal of lip skin cells and lead to moisture loss, increasing the risk of dry lips. 

In addition, vitamin B2 also is needed for the production of collagen, a protein required to repair and regenerate skin.

7. When should I be concerned about dry lips?

Most cases of dry lips are temporary and not a serious medical concern. However, if you develop swelling, sores, or extremely dry skin around the lip area, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider to evaluate potential causes and formulate an appropriate treatment plan. 

Fix Cracked Lips Infographic | The Nutritional Cause of Chapped Lips

Healthy Keto Guide for Beginner

FREE Keto Diet Plan