Chapped Lips From Chapstick “Addiction?”

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Dr. Jo Herzog discusses whether one can get chapped lips from chapstick “addiction,”  and if so, what to do about it.

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Most of us know at least one person who is obsessed with, seemingly addicted to, chapstick. I have one friend who keeps at least 3-4 sticks in her purse at all times, applies it constantly throughout the day, and even claims that she is “addicted.” Interestingly, she will only buy and use the “original” chapstick~no flavors for her!

This chapstick obsession can affect young and old alike. Just last week, a dear friend sent me a photo of her daughter’s lips along chapstick addiction chapped lipswith the following question for Dr. Jo:

QUESTION: Dr. Jo, what do you do for chapped and cracked lips due to overuse of chapstick?  She also asked if it were possible to be “addicted” to chapstick. For Dr. Jo’s answer, read below.

Dr. Jo Herzog

This is a good topic to address. Just today someone in my office asked me a similar question. She wanted to know if she was “addicted” to Chapstick and if it were the cause of her dry, irritated lips.

Dr. Jo Herzog dermatologist Family SavvyWhile you do not actually become “addicted” to Chapstick (and some other lip balms), you might feel like you are. When we apply these products to our slightly dry lips, they feel tingly and wonderful—— for a few minutes. Soon they feel dry again, and we apply more. Day after day, night after night, we apply more and more, and our lips still do not get better. How do some lip balms cause lips to be worse?

First, chemicals such as menthol, camphor and phenol, which are found in some lip balms, can actually make lips more dry. So, you feel worse and apply MORE to feel better for a few minutes. This becomes a vicious cycle.

Second, some lip balms also contain flavorings such as cinnamon and mint that can irritate lips or that can cause an allergic reaction in some and further exacerbate the problem.

Third, the already dry lips often make some want to lick their lips. Moisture feels good but the evaporating water actually causes more dryness. This makes users lick more and apply more balm~over and over. What to do now??

Toss the lip balms that contain the aforementioned products. Get yourself a little jar of plain Vaseline (petroleum jelly). A cool mist humidifier in your room might also help, especially if dry heat is on. Do not purchase other lip products (gloss, etc.) with alcohol in them.

If these suggestions do not work, visit your dermatologist. Ask him or her to prescribe a short course of topical steroid ointment to break the habit. This works wonders in many cases.

Hope this helps,

Dr. Jo

Addendum: It’s Jamie, and I want to follow up with two things. First, my friend took her daughter to see Dr. Jo, who gave her the following prescription:

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My friend said her daughter got relief in almost 24 hours after starting the treatment. If you or someone you love has a similar problem, ask your dermatologist about this regimen and whether it might be right for you. Disclaimer: This post makes no scientific claim regarding  Chapstick (the brand) overuse. There are many who use Chapstick and experience no issues. Chapstick is a well-known brand that has many loyal and satisfied users. To learn more about Chapstick, visit their website

Second, I did some research to find the best lip balms that have been tested and approved by my favorite beauty and skincare review website, I have this site bookmarked and refer to it any time I make a cosmetics or skincare purchase.

All of the lip balms listed below recieved the highest rating from beautypedia and are free of ingredients that would cause irritation to lips. Better yet, they are all inexpensive (less than $5) and readily available. These would make great stocking stuffers for the “chapstickaholic” in your family!

I hope this post helped those of you who might be suffering from chapstick overuse. As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!

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