When Old Man Winter comes knocking, his cold, dry air often wipes the smile right off of our faces. Why? Chapped lips, that's why!

Chapped lips — sometimes called cracked lips — occur when your lips become dry and cracked. This happens often in the winter when the weather gets cold and dry. It's easy to bundle up in a thick coat, but we too often leave our lips unprotected!

Of course, it can also happen in the summer when the hot sun dries out your skin. If you've ever gotten a sunburn, you know how painful it can be. Imagine how much more sensitive the skin on your lips is.

Your body produces a natural layer of oil that coats the lips and keeps them moist. Sometimes people lick their lips as a habit. When they do this, they can remove that protective layer of oil and cause their lips to become dry and chapped.

When you have chapped lips, your lips will become dry, red, and swollen. If the skin on your lips cracks or peels, you'll probably also feel a burning sensation that can be quite painful.

If you notice your lips becoming chapped, don't lick them! Although they may feel better for a short time, licking them ultimately makes them dry out even more in the long run. This can make them hurt even more.

Instead, treat your lips with a soothing lip balm. If you have large cracks in your lips, you may want to see a doctor to get special medicine. Most pharmacies will have a wide variety of lip care products. Choose a lip balm that is oil-based. You might also look for a product with lanolin, which can speed along the healing process.

If your lips are not chapped, it's a good idea to protect them to keep them from becoming chapped. Your lips have very thin layers of skin on them. They lose moisture easily. In fact, you lose up to ten times more moisture through your lips than other parts of your body.

To keep your lips in good health, check out the activities in the Try It Out section. Your lips will thank you and you'll be smiling all winter long!

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