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Peeling Lips & Other Pregnancy Wonders

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,

Seems as though there is a baby boom amongst my friends at the moment and, of course, we share our woes and joys of pregnancy and being a mama. I have not found ONE SINGLE pregnant person with the same problem I’m experiencing. It’s not in any of my many pregnancy books either. This is my second pregnancy (I have a two year old little boy) and this didn’t happen with my first.

So here’s my problem… my lips are peeling, every day. I’ve tried Carmex, Blistex, Avon lip stuff, Burt’s Bees, Origins lip gloss and lipstick… and on and on. I’ve tried wearing nothing at all in case I’m allergic to something in one of the aforementioned products. My lips are not especially dry and the outside of my lips are just fine. But, they just peel where my lips come together — every… single… day. This didn’t happen until I got pregnant. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s just extremely annoying and unattractive.

Have you every heard of this being a symptom of pregnancy? Oh, the glorious hormones of pregnancy!

Any help for peeling lips? Is there any hope that this will go away after childbirth?

I seem to get the weirdest symptoms during pregnancy. In my first trimester I was REALLY nauseous and constantly had a metal taste in my mouth. My friends told me I was just weird, which is probably true, but do you have any advice for me?


Hey! Guess what! You need to call your dermatologist for this one. It sounds like you’ve got cheilitis (an inflammation/irritation of the lips). Congratulations!

What is Cheilitis?

According to various reputable sources (coughGooglecough), cheilitis can be brought on by a mild yeast infection, allergies, various medications (Accutane seems to be a common culprit), or other skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. I didn’t find any articles specifically linking cheilitis to pregnancy, but considering that women are highly susceptible to yeast infections in the second trimester (and not to mention all the other weird wonky skin things we experience), it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this was brought on by your pregnancy.

But nobody can diagnose you other than a doctor for sure. Your obstetrician would be the first person to ask, but since this definitely isn’t a run-of-the-mill pregnancy symptom, don’t be discouraged if he or she has no idea what to do about it. A dermatologist will definitely be able to recognize your condition and recommend any creams to deal with it. (Or give you an idea of whether it will clear up on its own postpartum, as some of the more bizarre pregnancy symptoms are wont to do…but I wouldn’t count on that with this one, honestly. It’s always better to get these things checked out.)

In the meantime, stop with the drugstore lip balms and treatments — there seems to be some anecdotal evidence that constant moisturizing peeling lips just aggravates the condition, particularly if it is from a yeast/candida infection.

lips.jpgI never had any lip problems when I was pregnant, but I did have to see a dermatologist after I developed these weird little red marks all over my hands and legs — they looked like tiny raised red freckles, almost. No bigger than the head of a pin. They didn’t itch or hurt or anything, but they just appeared overnight and seemed to spread like wildfire. Up my arms, across my back, etc. They were so weird and Google wouldn’t tell me ANYTHING about them, but my doctor took one look at them and assured me that they were completely hormonal and normal and they’d vanish after I gave birth. And sure enough, they were gone by the time I came home from the hospital.

So yeah. Pregnancy is bizarre. But call your doctor anyway. The End.

Visit Amalah’s Weekly Pregnancy Calendar.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Cari

    June 25, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    I had this problem when I took Accutane. I would brush my lips with a toothbrush (not the same one I used for my teeth) and warm water at least once a day, and I used lip balm like crazy. With Accutane it was a dryness thing, so the lip balm was okay. But the brushing keeps that gross skin away for a while; you know, while you are patiently waiting for it to go away.

  • Beeeee

    June 25, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    So I had a similar problem from running outside in the winter. I tried EVERYTHING (except, of course a dermatologist, which seems smart). What ended up working for me was a combination of Blistex overnight lip balm at night and Vasoline lip balm during the day – it cleared it up in a couple of days!

  • Krisbell

    June 26, 2007 at 12:22 am

    I had this problem also when I took Accutane (among a million other things, but damn, my skin was gorgeous). At the suggestion of my dermatologist, I used Aquaphor a few times a day and it helped. You can get it at any drugstore.

  • Skyzi

    June 28, 2007 at 9:27 am

    I had this same problem when I got pregnant. It got much better by the end of my pregnancy and completely cleared up after I gave birth.
    Nothing I tried made it better. Chapstick was soothing but didn’t make it look any better. Time was the cure!

  • PaintingChef

    June 30, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    I don’t have pregnancy peeling cracked lips what with the lack of gestation I’ve got going on but I do have Georgia in the damn summer peeling cracked lips so I don’t know if these will work for you but I have two suggestions.
    1. This is a trick that my mother passed along to me from her modeling days and it will both rid your lips of the peeling AND plump them everso slightly so I totally love this. Heap some Vaseline on your lips. Try not to dry heave while you let it sit there for a minute or two. (Don’t kiss anyone for a minute or two either… I’ve learned they don’t really appreciate the Vaseline pucker) Then take an emory board and go to town on those bad boys. I do this almost every night in the summer and it REALLY helps.
    2. My favorite line of skin care is Bioelements and they make a product called “Lip Buff”. It’s a moisturizer with sugar crystals in it that softens and exfoliates your lips. This is a little pricier (about $26) and I’m not 100% convinced it’s more effective than the Vaseline method but it certainly tastes better and it has some essential oils in there somewhere too so that’s probably good. I buy mine at which is in danger of replacing Sephora as my most dangerous website.

  • Sunny

    July 4, 2007 at 12:40 am

    Jesus gay, let’s hope she’s not on Accutane, that would be bad.

  • jomama

    July 6, 2007 at 10:32 am

    Warning: Do not do a google image search on cheilitis.
    That is all.

  • Katie

    September 30, 2008 at 2:11 am

    Jomama–oh god. You were right.
    Unfortunately, I have a terrible time NOT looking up something that I am warned not to. So, um, yeah. With you on the ew.

  • Carpe Librarium

    January 11, 2014 at 5:32 am

    I know I’m late to this, but in case someone else stumbles across this: angular chelitis can also be associated with low iron, which we pregnant people need plenty of to supply healthy blood to our inhabitants. Iron levels can easily be checked by your doctor with a finger-stick blood test. 

  • Belle

    February 6, 2014 at 5:12 am

    Hi all,

    I have the same problem too with severe lip chapped. and I have tried multiple oil, lip balm, lip butter, Vaseline, but it keeps on repeating until I found out the cause. I got to know that I am sensitive over certain product of toothpaste. Tried changing milder toothpaste changes a lot in 3 or 4 days. Try!

  • lee

    January 15, 2015 at 3:44 am

    Yes this can be a “side effect” of pregnancy! Me and my sister went through this. No need to fret it isn’t permanent. Baby pulls water from you causing areas to become dry arms legs lips etc. So it is very important to stay hydrated and drink enough water for you and baby. You have a little thirsty bugger 🙂