Chapped lips happen when the lips don’t get enough moisture, either externally, or from inside the body. Externally, they can be caused by very dry air, which can happen in winter or year-round in drier environments. Internally, dehydration is another common cause of chapped lips, so it’s a good idea to call Baby’s doctor if she has chapped lips and you think dehydration might be the cause. Other signs of severe dehydration include sunken fontanelles, infrequent urination, a rapid heartbeat, and, in babies older than 3 to 12 weeks, whose tear ducts have developed, tearless cries.
What’s wrong with chapstick?
Chapstick seems like the obvious way to treat chapped lips, in babies as well as in adults, but it’s not always the perfect choice to keep those little lips moisturized and chap-less. Most chapsticks contain chemicals and dyes, the effects of which have generally not been tested on very young children, who have sensitive skin that may be irritated or harmed. Some more natural chapsticks may be safe, but if you aren’t sure, it’s best to avoid using them on your baby entirely.
How do I treat it, then?
- Non-toxic lanolin creams, like those you might use for cracked or dry nipples, can be very useful for helping to treat chapped lips.
- If slight dehydration is contributing to the chapping, working in more feedings during the day can help replenish fluid levels. You can also leave a bit of breast milk on Baby’s lips after a feeding. Babies with more serious dehydration should visit their doctor.
- Rubbing a tiny bit of olive oil on Baby’s lips before bed can help hold in moisture while she sleeps.
- Humidifiers can help keep more moisture in the air, which may treat or prevent chapped lips.
- Covering Baby‘s mouth with a scarf or collar before taking her out into the dry air is another way to help stop chapped lips before they start – just be careful to be sure her nose is clear, and she can breathe easily.
The bottom line
Chapped lips are annoying, but unless there are other signs of dehydration, it’s not a huge problem. Just keep Baby’s lips moist and protected, and they’ll be chap-free in no time.
- Amy Hardin. “Question & Answer.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 12 2014. Web.
- “Chapped Lips.” AskDrSears. AskDrSears.com. Web.