Cracked skin can happen when your skin barrier is compromised. Usually, it’s a symptom of dry and irritated skin, but there are many possible causes.
Your feet, hands, and lips may be especially prone to cracking. However, depending on the cause, cracked skin can develop in other areas, too.
Most causes of skin cracking can be managed with home remedies. But if your cracked skin is severe, of concern, or if you have any complications, it’s recommended to see a doctor.
Depending on the cause, cracked skin may be accompanied with a variety of other symptoms. Paying attention to these symptoms may help pinpoint the cause.
Dry skin, or xerosis, is the most common cause of cracked skin.
In smooth and hydrated skin, natural oils prevent the skin from drying out by retaining moisture. But if your skin doesn’t have enough oil, it loses moisture. This makes your skin dry out and shrink, which can lead to cracking.
Dry skin may be caused by:
When your lips become very dry or irritated, they can crack, flake, and in some cases, became swollen, itchy, or sore.
Inflammation or dryness on the lips can occur for several reasons. Some of the most common reasons for cracked lips include:
Our Favourites for Natural Lip-care:
Deficiencies in various vitamins and minerals may contribute to chapped lips.
Iron is necessary for several bodily processes, including oxygen transportation, DNA synthesis, and red blood cell production. This mineral also plays a key role in skin health regulation [i]. Iron deficiency anaemia may cause angular cheilitis, which appears with dryness on one or both sides of your mouth [ii].
A deficiency in zinc may impair skin health and also cause chapped lips, as well as dryness, irritation, and inflammation on the sides of your mouth [iii].
B vitamins are a group of eight water-soluble vitamins involved in energy production and cell function. Animal and test-tube studies indicate that they also affect tissue repair and wound healing [iv].
Chapped lips are a common symptom of deficiencies, especially in folate (vitamin B9), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and vitamins B6 and B12 [v].
Vitamin B 12 deficiency specifically can lead to a condition that leads to dry, cracked lips with difficulty healing. As vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal products, vegans and vegetarians may be at a higher risk of deficiency [vi].
[i] Abbaspour N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R. Review on iron and its importance for human health. J Res Med Sci. 2014 Feb;19(2):164-74. PMID: 24778671; PMCID: PMC3999603.
[ii] Ayesh MH. Angular cheilitis induced by iron deficiency anemia. Cleve Clin J Med. 2018 Aug;85(8):581-582.
[iii] Maxfield L, Shukla S, Crane JS. Zinc Deficiency. [Updated 2022 May 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-.
[iv] Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy--A Review. Nutrients. 2016 Jan 27;8(2):68.
[v] Kim J, Kim MJ, Kho HS. Oral manifestations in vitamin B12 deficiency patients with or without history of gastrectomy. BMC Oral Health. 2016 May 27;16(1):60
[vi] O'Leary F, Samman S. Vitamin B12 in health and disease. Nutrients. 2010 Mar;2(3):299-316. doi: 10.3390/nu2030299. Epub 2010 Mar 5. PMID: 22254022; PMCID: PMC3257642.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.