Sore or dry lips

Dry or sore lips are a common problem, especially during hot or cold weather. There are things you can try yourself that may help.

Things you can try yourself

Do

  • use a lip balm containing petroleum jelly or beeswax – you can buy these at a pharmacy or supermarket
  • try a few different lip balms if one isn't working for you – some people may be sensitive to some fragrances or ingredients
  • wash your hands before applying lip balm
  • use a lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more during hot weather
  • cover your lips with a scarf when you're outside in cold weather
  • drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated

Don't

  • do not pick or bite any flaky skin on your lips – this can slow down healing
  • do not keep licking dry or cracked lips – this can make them sore
  • do not share lip balms with other people – this can spread germs

A pharmacist can help with sore or dry lips

A pharmacist can advise you about:

  • the best treatments for dry or sore lips
  • whether you need to see a GP

See a GP if:

  • your lips are hot, painful, red and swollen – this could be a sign of infection

If your GP thinks you have an infected lip, they may prescribe an antibiotic or antifungal cream to treat the problem.

Information:

If you have a small, fluid-filled blister on your lip, you may have a cold sore.

Most people with cold sores get a tingling, burning or itching feeling on their lip before the blister appears.

Read about how to treat cold sores.

Page last reviewed: 16/11/2018
Next review due: 16/11/2021