Baylor College of Medicine

Addicted to putting on lip balm? You may be allergic

Addicted to lip balm? You might be allergic

Office of Communications


Houston, TX -

If you find yourself frequently reapplying lip balm during the cold winter months, you may start to think you’re addicted to it. But a dermatologist at Baylor College of Medicine explains why ‘addiction’ might just be another problem such as an allergic reaction.

“Most people addicted to lip balm reapply because the lips feel cracked, dry and scaly,” said Dr. Ramsey Markus, associate professor of dermatology at Baylor. “Often, the product provides temporary but inadequate relief so they reapply every few minutes.”

Some individuals are actually allergic to or irritated by some of the ingredients in the product, leading to more irritation and the urge to reapply. With hundreds of formulations of lip balm it is sometimes hard to tell what exactly is causing the allergic reaction. However, Markus says some of the potential culprits are lanolin, phenol, parabens, oxybenzone and more.

During the winter, cold and dry air is the most likely culprit in causing dry lips. In addition, licking your lips can aggravate the problem. “A common complicating factor is licking lips, which causes irritation leading to peeling, chapped lips,” Markus said.

Other conditions that could cause dry, peeling lips:

  • Chronic sun damage can lead to a precancerous condition called Actinic Cheilitis.
  • Nutritional disorders like acrodermatitis enteropathica (zinc deficiency) can cause a rash around the mouth.
  • Allergic reactions to other things like toothpaste also can affect the lips.

Markus suggests applying Vaseline jelly frequently to cure dry and cracked lips.

Back to topback-to-top