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Newborn Chapped Lips: 6 Possible Causes

If you’re interested in skincare and preventing damage and early signs of aging, you’ve likely become aware that the key is to start early.

Newborn Chapped Lips: 6 Possible Causes

If you’re interested in skincare and preventing damage and early signs of aging, you’ve likely become aware that the key is to start early. And if you’ve just become a parent or are preparing to become one soon, you probably plan to do everything you can to give your little one a head start in any way you can, including the care of their skin. This is why some new parents become alarmed when confronted with newborn chapped lips. 

Just like you, your little one’s normally soft, pink lips might become red, dry, and cracked – especially in the winter. And yes, they can even bleed. Some other common signs of newborn chapped lips might include:

  • lips that look sore, red, or dry
  • lips that feel dry to the touch
  • cracks appearing on the surface of the lips and becoming deeper over time
  • cracks that bleed
  • skin darkening around the lips

But not to worry! Newborn chapped lips are a common phenomenon, and likely not much cause for concern, nor a source of much discomfort for your baby. However, if you feel you have a reason to be concerned, or your baby’s chapped lips are concurrent with other significant symptoms, always consult your baby’s doctor.  

In a future article, we will go over some simple home treatments to help soothe your baby’s chapped lips. But in this article, we will first discuss some of the common causes of newborn chapped lips, which can help you understand how to maybe even prevent the condition in the first place.

  1. Newborn chapped lips caused by dehydration
  2. Weather changes/Sun exposure
  3. Skin shedding and newborn chapped lips
  4. Sucking/Licking lips and friction from nursing
  5. Skin sensitivities/Medications causing newborn chapped lips
  6. Rare causes of newborn chapped lips

1. Newborn chapped lips caused by dehydration

Just as with your lips and skin overall, dehydration of the skin is caused by insufficient moisture either inside or outside the body (or both!) and could be the reason behind newborn chapped lips.  

Newborn babies get all the hydration they need from feeding on breast milk or formula milk. Therefore, if they are not feeding enough, they might become dehydrated. Or, if the day is significantly warm, they might require extra feedings to prevent dehydration. 

Keep an eye on how many wet diapers your baby is producing in a day. At Day 5 and onward, newborns generally produce at least six wet diapers per day, with that number decreasing after about six weeks. If you have a good idea of how many wet diapers your baby usually produces and they begin producing less, it could be a sign your baby is dehydrated and needs to feed more.  

Other signs of dehydration in babies include:

  • a sunken fontanel, which is the “soft spot” on a baby’s head
  • sunken eyes
  • crying with no tears
  • dry skin
  • cold, blotchy hands or feet
  • drowsiness
  • a fast heartbeat 

If signs of dehydration in your baby do not go away after sufficient feedings, always contact your baby’s doctor. 

2. Weather changes/Sun exposure

Newborn chapped lips can also be caused by changes in the weather (from hot to cold or from cold to hot) and prolonged sun exposure.  

Significant heat, significant cold, and wind can all contribute to newborn chapped lips. This is especially true when there are fluctuations in the weather, which draw moisture away from the skin, causing your baby to have dry, cracked lips. 

Hot, dry weather can dry out your skin and lips, and so can exposure to the sun. However, your newborn baby’s skin is delicate and should not be directly exposed to the sun early on until after about six months. But if something happens and your new little one does spend some time in the sun, just be aware that this can be a cause of chapped lips.  

If you plan to go outside, make sure your little one is shielded from the sun and properly bundled up to protect them from the dehydrating effects of cold/hot temperatures and wind. 

3. Skin shedding and newborn chapped lips

Newborn babies have just spent most of their lives (so far!) inside the womb, in which an extra layer of skin called the  vernix caseosa protected them during gestation. As your newborn adjusts to their new environment outside of the womb, they shed this extra layer of skin in a process called skin shedding, or skin peeling.  

During this natural process, you might witness peeling and dry skin anywhere on the baby, including the lips. This is no cause for alarm or extra fuss with creams or lotions, as the skin begins to adapt and resolve itself. 

4. Sucking/Licking lips and friction from nursing

Your newborn baby has a natural desire to feed many times a day and does this by an instinctive sucking motion with their lips. It’s not uncommon for the baby to continue this sucking motion or lick their lips even when not feeding, which draws saliva to the lips. Excess saliva on the lips can quickly dehydrate them, causing newborn chapped lips. Likewise, if your baby drools a lot, this source of excess saliva could also be drying out your baby’s lips. 

Additionally, the repetitive sucking motion on a nipple, bottle, or pacifier many times throughout the day causes friction, and friction naturally causes dryness. It’s not uncommon for your baby to develop a small  nursing blister, which should go away on its own. However, if your baby develops a nursing blister that doesn’t go away, consult your baby’s doctor. 

5. Skin sensitivities/Medications causing newborn chapped lips

Your newborn baby’s skin is new, fresh, and delicate, and that includes their lips. However, the skin of some babies is more sensitive than others, and exposure to certain chemicals, irritants, or medications could be the cause of newborn chapped lips.  

Cloths, wipes, lotions, and creams are common products that can trigger a reaction such as a rash or dry, cracked lips in some infants with sensitive skin.  

As always, consult with your baby’s doctor before using any new medications, and be sure to discuss possible side effects. Also, be sure to inform them of any reactions to products your little one might have had. 

6. Rare causes of newborn chapped lips

In very rare cases, newborn chapped lips might be a sign your baby is experiencing nutritional deficiencies. If your baby isn’t getting the right balance of nutrients, their lips might not look healthy. However rare, if you think your baby might be experiencing nutritional deficiencies, consult your baby’s doctor. 

Another very rare cause of newborn chapped lips is called Kawasaki disease. This disease is more common in Japan and not prevalent in the United States. However, it’s still something to have on your radar. Kawasaki disease is an illness that causes persistent fever and inflammation of blood vessels in babies and children. Besides chapped lips and a fever, babies with Kawasaki disease also experience other symptoms such as red rashes and swollen limbs. If you suspect your baby might have Kawasaki disease, consult your baby’s doctor. 


Newborn chapped lips are common in babies, and many non-threatening factors could be causing them. Likely, the symptom will sort itself out, as with skin shedding. Alternatively, you might reverse the cause and take care of your baby’s chapped lips. For instance, you might feed them more if they are dehydrated, bundle them up to protect them from the elements outside, or stop using a product if it is showing to be a skin irritant.  

However, if you want to soothe your baby’s dry, cracked lips right away, we will discuss some home remedies for newborn chapped lips in our next article.  

…and a side note for you and YOUR skin!

For you, just as with your children, the best care for your skin is early preventative care. However, if your skin is already marked by the signs of damage and premature skin aging caused by previous lifestyle choices, there are still things you can do! First of all, it’s important to be aware that it’s never too late to take advantage of the many tips to prevent premature skin aging from this point on.  

However, if you’d like to correct previous damage there are various aesthetic services and treatments that all enhance and encourage the beauty of your own skin, including:

At Southern Secrets Medical Spa, we offer all these aesthetic services and treatments and so much more! Give us a call or come visit to schedule a consultation to see how we can help! Our skincare professionals are experienced, skilled, and passionate about getting the appearance of your skin back to its most youthful potential and allowing you to regain your confidence. 

Like this content and want more? Find out more information about many of the other wellnessrenewal, and aesthetic services we offer on our blog!

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