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The only thing worse than having painful, dry, cracked lips is watching your kid suffer from their own. That’s why it’s helpful to have some lip balms that are kid-safe on hand so you can get the healing process started as soon as possible. In fact, you may want to just stock up on these like you do baby wipes so that there’s always a pack nearby. And, let’s be honest, you know this is the type of thing you’ll lose track of all the time.
While your child can end up with chapped lips any time of the year, winter is particularly rough on them. “One of the most common causes of chapped lips is dry, cold weather which can transform into an irritant dermatitis called lip-licking dermatitis,” says dermatologist Dr. Aída Lugo-Somolinos. “This is caused by irritation with saliva as the kids moisten their lips constantly with their tongues.” This may seem like a common event with your child, but if it goes on for too long without treatment, it can lead to much bigger problems. “If severe, it may require evaluation by a dermatologist and treatment with topical steroids,” Lugo-Somolinos warns.
When you were younger, you might have just grabbed your tube of strawberry-flavored Lip Smacker and gone on your way when your lips were chapped. However, Lugo-Somolinos advises against products like these for toddlers and kids. “One of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis of the lips is fragrances,” she explains, “The same chemicals used in fragrances are also used in flavorings like cinnamon, vanillin, etc.” Your child could end up with a severe allergic reaction to these chemicals, which would make their lips even redder, swollen, and painful. Instead, Dr. Lugo-Somolinos suggests parents stick to lip balms with basic ingredients. “Look for simple, hypoallergenic ingredients like petrolatum, mineral oil, shea butter, and coconut oil,” she says.
Here are some of the best and safest lip balms to consider for toddlers, kids, and in some cases, babies.
As much as you might have loved applying your glittery cupcake-flavored gloss to your lips when you were younger, you should avoid giving the same thing to your little ones now that you’re a parent. Whether you’re looking for baby chapstick, lip balm for toddlers, or something your big kid will actually use (and isn’t filled with unnecessary ingredients), the best thing you can do is follow Dr. Lugo-Somolinos’ advice and stick to simple formulas that are free of added fragrances, flavors, and, sadly, glitter.
Aída Lugo-Somolinos, MD, Professor of Dermatology at the University Of North Carolina in Chapel Hill