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 if you have sore or dry lips


  • 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 is not working for you – some people may be sensitive to some fragrances, dyes or cosmetic ingredients

  • wash your hands before applying lip balm

  • use a lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more every 2 hours when outdoors

  • cover your lips with a scarf when you're outside in cold weather

  • drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated


  • 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:

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • your lips are hot, painful 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.

Common causes of sore or dry lips

Sore or dry lips can be caused by many things.

Common causes include:

Sometimes they can be caused by a lack of vitamins and minerals.

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.

Page last reviewed: 23 December 2021
Next review due: 23 December 2024