Is Biting Your Lips Bad for Your Skin? A Derm Weighs In
Biting your lips is a habit that can be hard to break, but for the sake of your skin, it’s worth it to try. The practice can cause irritation and inflammation to the lip area, and long-term skin damage. Ahead, we spoke with Rachel Nazarian, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC about how biting your lips affects the skin, how to kick the habit and what lip products can help address irritation and dryness.
Why Is Biting Your Lips Bad for the Skin?
According to Dr. Nazarian, biting your lips is bad for one major reason: “Biting your lips causes saliva to touch them, and saliva is a digestive enzyme that breaks down things it comes into contact with, including the skin,” she says. This means that the more you bite your lips, the more likely you are to damage the delicate tissue of the lip area, which can cause the skin to crack and chap.
How to Treat Bitten Lips
The first way to treat lip biting is to stop biting all together (easier said than done, we know). Dr. Nazarian also suggests using a lip balm that contains lanolin or petrolatum to help prevent the evaporation of moisture from the lips. We recommend the CeraVe Healing Ointment for this, which contains ceramides, petrolatum and hyaluronic acid. If you’re looking for an option with SPF, try the CeraVe Healing Lip Balm with SPF 30.
How to Avoid Biting Lips
After you’ve treated your lips, there are a few ingredients to steer clear of in order to prevent further irritation. “Avoid use of balms that contain fragrance, alcohol or ingredients such as menthol or peppermint because they can cause irritation and drying of lips over time,” says Dr. Nazarian.
Additionally, using a lip scrub on a weekly basis will help rid of excess dead skin that would cause you to bite your lips. Pick a day of the week after you cleanse your face to exfoliate your lips with a sugar scrub, like the Sara Happ Lip Scrub in Vanilla Bean. Simply rub the scrub in small circular motions on your lips to reveal the softer, more radiant skin underneath.
Biting your lips is a habit you can definitely kick, but Dr. Nazarian urges you to be patient. “Consistently keep a strong-smelling balm on your lips so that if you end up biting, you’ll end up tasting those ingredients and products, and that bitter taste in your mouth will be a reminder that you’re still biting.”
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn