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Hard, Cracked Peeling Lips

Hi and thank you for any information -

My 7 yr. old has had hard, cracking, peeling lips for years.  It seems to be on a cycle.  There will be a layer of tough skin that just gets thicker and thicker then it dries out very hard and whitish (dead skin) then peels (or he picks at it) and reveals very tender very new layer underneath.

I have read about Exfoliative Cheilitis and this would seem to be what it is, but most cases I've read about seem to have this cycle occur on a daily basis.  My son's is much longer - about a week or longer.

He does have digestive problems and has had GERD his whole life. He no longer reports throat pain and it appears his muscles have finally developed as i no longer see him repressing rising fluids.  He is no longer taking reflux medication.  On the medication and off, the lip peeling persists.

Is this digestive? A vitamin deficiency? Allergy of some type?

I did visit the health food store looking for a natural lip balm, and was advised that Vitamin E oil would be safe to put on his lips.  Is this safe?  We have tried many balms - my worry is that the constant use of those ingredients might be harmful to his little system.

Again, thank you for any assistance.  I have pictures if there is a way to send.
5 Responses
309783 tn?1271961829
I had extremely dry lips when I took a certain medication.
The only thing which helped was Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream. It is quite expensive but a small amount goes a long way, and it is much more effective than Vaseline or Vitamin E cream.
Avatar universal


He should take anti-reflux antinausea medications for his GERD. This could be a part of Cheilitis, which is a medical condition involving inflammation of the lip. Or a bad case of Chapped lips , a condition whereby the lips become dry and possibly cracked. It may be caused by the evaporation of moisture.

Lip balm can often provide temporary relief, though it should not be used extensively.  One should avoid licking their lips as saliva contains the enzyme amylase, which can damage the already compromised lip tissue. Honey can be used on the lips as a natural remedy.

Cheilitis is associated with many conditions from Vitamin B12 deficiency, iron deficiency anemia, be a symptom of allergies.can also be caused by taking the (retinoid) drug Isotretinoin (brand name Roaccutane).

Applying protective paraffin-based ointment (such as Vaseline) or lip balms to the lips is normally very effective. Also take Vitamin B supplements.

If nothing works you can have a biopsy done to find out the cause.

Some causes of the symptoms you mention, could be lip biting, lip licking, Vit.B2 deficiency, smoking, overexposure to sun and ill fitting dentures. In extreme cases, this could be due to bacterial or fungal skin infection.

He needs to drink plenty of water daily – around 1.5 – 3 litres per day and eat a balanced diet. Do not keep your lips dry; apply lip balm which contains sunscreen – preferably a medicated one.

If the symptoms still persist, consult your skin specialist or dermatologist.

Let us know about how he is doing and if you have any other doubts.

Avatar universal
hello , i seem to had been experiencing the same problem , and i am now better , i think i may be able to help.

if i were you , keep off of cosmetic brands like chapstick and vaseline, do not keep trying to make them work, in this case you may need something more medicated.
(like me)

dont try mixing products (as in using vaseline on minuet and then putting e45 on straight after) as it would cause a build up and make a infection or a reaction.

now , i suggest you see a doctor , and they should give you a Medicaed lip cream and a antibiotic. theese should take about 10 days before it has cleared it up.

i hope i could help , best of luck!
Avatar universal
i'm no medic but you dont have to study for years to realise pharmaceutical companies are blatantly holding back research or ignoring physical issues that only affect the mental state of mind of the victim. for their own profit, by only easing the symptoms of perfectly curable ailment. YES i said it. victim! For 13 years i was a victim of the same lip peeling cycle, but no more.

i haven't found a cure as i believe the coating on my tongue (that my doctor seems to think is normal) is part of the problem. although i've kept the lip peeling at bay and for the last week and a half, my lips haven't peeled once!!

despite what my doctor says i believe both things are related to some sort of fungus, maybe in my intestines. so as part of my own elimination process i thought i'd start at the end of what i see as my problem. assuming the problem is where i cant see i thought lets start with where i can see! my lips and tongue.

for my lips i've found DAKTARIN oral gel applied as lip balm when needed. also i apply vaseline on top to keep my lips moisturised. the most important time for me is when i go to bed. i make sure my lips are coated a little bit more than usual as i wont feel like licking them if i'm sleeping (well thats my logic!)

as for my tongue, i've noticed extensive amounts of salt and salt water along with baking soda scrubbed with a tooth brush directly onto the coating seems to totally remove it, but only as far as i can reach. i simply cannot reach the little white bumps behind the big taste buds or what ever they are. so can't remove it all so it always grows back. i say grow because it doesn't appear randomly on my tongue it always starts at the back and goes forward and out. if anyone can help me with that i'd be truely grateful and i hoope i've helped someone with their lip problems...
Avatar universal
I have been suffering from cracked, dry and pealing lips for years .. it comes and go. I tried everything that my family doctor and the dermatologist had suggested and nothing worked. Finally I just found out that eating SALMON will get ride of all of these lips problems. Seriously Try it - It worked for me! Good Luck :-)
I am sufferening from problem in lips that my lips constantly peel off and little inflamed with orangish boundary in theinside lining of my lips.the condition worsens when it is exposed to water .The skin that comes is as hard as that of skin of foot.Vascline is not working.I am having for long time ,Please suggest
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