What are cracked lips?

Cracked lips are a symptom in which the lips are dry, peeling or chapped. Breaks may appear on the surface, and the lips may become painful and may bleed.

In most cases, cracked lips are not caused by a serious condition and do not pose any health risks. Common causes of cracked lips include dry or cold weather, sunburn, wind exposure, licking your lips, and breathing through your mouth. In some cases, mild conditions such as the common cold, dehydration, and nutritional deficiencies may also result in cracked lips.

Often, you may be able to correct your cracked lips with healthy habits such as regularly applying lip balm, using sunscreen when spending time outdoors, and drinking plenty of water.

Cracked lips are rarely associated with a medical emergency. However, cracked lips may be a sign of dehydration. Severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can result in shock or coma and may be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have symptoms of severe dehydration, such as confusion, lethargy, loss of consciousness, cold skin, or reduced urine production.

Seek prompt medical care if your cracked lips are persistent or cause you concern.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with cracked lips?

Other symptoms cracked lips may accompany will vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the lips may also involve other body systems.

Mouth symptoms that may occur along with cracked lips

Cracked lips may accompany other symptoms affecting the mouth including:

  • Bleeding
CAUSES

What causes cracked lips?

Cracked lips are usually a mild symptom that occurs as a result of environmental factors, personal habits such as licking your lips, or conditions such as mild dehydration and the common cold. Cracked lips are rarely a sign of a severe condition.

Environmental causes of cracked lips

Cracked lips may be caused by environmental conditions including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mouth, Teeth and Oral Health