Chapped Lips (Cheilitis): Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Cracks in the lips are most commonly associated with chapped lips, medically referred to as cheilitis simplex. Cheilitis is the term that denotes inflammation of the lips. Cracking, fissuring, reddening, peeling, and pain of the lips can occur when inflammation is present. Inflammation of the lips can be caused by many different conditions; in some cases, the condition can be chronic (persists over time). Wind, cold, and sun exposure are common environmental causes of cracked lips. Drug reactions, skin diseases, and other conditions can also cause inflammation of the lips. Angular cheilitis is the term used for inflammation (often with cracking) at the corners of the mouth; this condition is common in the elderly and is also called angular stomatitis. Allergic reactions are another common cause of inflammation of the lips.

Other causes of chapped lips (cheilitis)

  • Angular Cheilitis
  • Bacterial Infection
  • Candida Infection
  • Chronic Lip Licking or Biting
  • Drug Reactions
  • Fungal Infection
  • Hypervitaminosis A
  • Medications
  • Pemphigus Vulgaris
  • Wind Exposure


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.