How to Take Care of Dry Lips in the Winter

Woman in winter coat putting lip balm on

Winter can be rough enough on its own with cold temperatures and dark nights, but it becomes even more of a struggle if you're dealing with dry, chapped skin. Generally, our skin tends to be drier during the winter, and our lips are no exception to that rule! Read on to learn what causes dry lips in winter, how to take better care of your lips and how to deal with things like cold sores during the winter.

What Causes Dry Lips in Winter?

There is a range of reasons your lips get drier during the winter. The cold air and wind can chap your lips and face. Plus, the delicate skin of your lips is usually not covered even in winter wear so they're more exposed to the winter weather than the rest of your body. The lack of humidity in the winter is another stressor that can dry out your skin and lips. All in all, winter is a rough time for chapped, dry lips.1

Dry lips in the winter aren't a huge cause for concern as they're fairly easily to treat. However, if dry lips aren't addressed, it can lead to split, bloody lips or even trigger cold sores.

How to Care for Your Lips & Prevent Dry Lips this Winter

Whether you're suffering from dry lips in the winter or any time of the year, there are some basic tips you can follow to help keep them moisturized. Follow these tips for dry lip care in winter to protect them from cold weather.

Regularly use Lip Balm. To protect your lips from cold, drying air and keep them moisturized, use your favorite non-irritating lip balms several times a day and right before bed. It's important to lip balms that use non-irritating ingredients. Irritating ingredients include things like flavoring, camphor, eucalyptus, menthol and other fragrances. A tingling sensation in your lips isn’t actually a good sign—it may mean that your lips are getting irritated on some level. Try to look for moisturizing lip balms that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.

Wear SPF 30 or higher lip balm. Look for a lip balm or lip product that has an SPF of 30 or higher. You might not realize it, but your lips need sun protection just as much as the rest of your skin!

Stay hydrated. Keeping your whole body hydrated by drinking plenty of water can help keep your lips from chapping and getting overly dry in the winter as well. Make sure to drink water throughout the day.

Don't pick at your lips. Although it's tempting, avoid picking at dry skin, tugging or biting your lips. This abrasion against your lips can damage them further and make them more dry. When you get the urge to pick at your lips, keep a lip balm handy so you can apply that instead. Additionally, try not to lick your lips too much. That can make them more chapped.

Use a humidifier. If you're struggling with dry air making your lips uncomfortable, set up a humidifier in your home. They're easy to set up and will add much-needed moisture back into the dry winter air. This added moisture may make it easier on your lips and skin overall.2

Can Dry Lips Cause Cold Sores?

Having dry lips alone won't cause cold sores, but the irritation can trigger one. Sun exposure and skin irritation can both cause cold sore outbreaks.3 Keeping your lips moisturized and healthy can help avoid cold sore outbreaks as much as possible. Find more resources on cold sore treatments, prevention and lip health topics.


  1. 1. Tips to protect your lips from cold, dry winter weather. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed 12/18/2020. back to content
  2. 2. 7 dermatologist' tips for healing dry, chapped lips. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Accessed 12/18/2020. back to content
  3. 3. Understanding Cold Sores. Saint Luke's. Accessed 12/18/2020. back to content

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