Cold Sores 3 min read

How to protect your lips this winter

How to protect your lips this winter How to protect your lips this winter How to protect your lips this winter

It’s that time of year again: festive commercials take over the TV, there’s a sudden urge to watch Elf on Netflix, mulled wine becomes your drink of choice, quaint market stalls pop-up on the high street and everywhere is dazzled by twinkling fairy lights.

Of course, for all the Christmas cheer of this time of year, you know the saying: ‘what goes up must come down’ – and in this case, it’s the weather. Brrrrrrrr.

The sun starts to set before you’ve even finished work; after which, you’re plunged into the cold and dark on your journey home. While thermals, hats, scarves, gloves and other winter accessories do a job of keeping our extremities, and other bits, warm, it’s much more difficult keeping our lips out of harm’s way.

Chapped lips are a seasonal hazard and so too are cold sore outbreaks. Compeed takes a look at how best to protect your lips.

Stay hydrated

This may sound a tad obvious, but it is just as important to hydrate in winter as it is in summer. While you’re out on the Christmas party circuit, remember to drink plenty of water. Not only will it help minimise any festive hangovers, it’ll also help to prevent dry winter skin and chapped lips.

Lip balm

Lip balm isn’t just a beauty product – it serves an essential purpose, which is to keep your lips moisturised and protected from harsh weather. But not all lip balms are created equally. Be sure to avoid those with irritating ingredients like flavouring, eucalyptus and menthol. Instead, look out for products with ingredients like shea butter, mineral oil and ceramides. If your lips are especially dry or cracked, then your best bet is to opt for a petroleum jelly, which will seal in the moisture on your lips for longer.

It’s important to note that even though it may be winter, your skin can still get sunburned. The sun can burn dry, sore lips more easily, so we’d recommend using a lip balm with SPF before going outside.

If you have a cold sore, it’s a good idea to use a cotton swab, which can be disposed of after use, to apply the lip balm. Be sure to use only one side of the cotton swab per application. This will avoid contaminating the product.

Don’t pick it or lick it

It’s a completely natural reaction to want to lick or pick at our lips when they’re dry, sore and chapped. Licking your lips, though it may seem to temporarily moisturise them, actually does more harm than good. When the saliva evaporates, it dries out your lips even more.

Picking at your lips also irritates the skin, which prevents them from healing. If you get the urge to pick at them, apply a thick lip balm instead.

Keep cold sore patches to hand!

Triggers of cold sore outbreaks vary from person to person. For some, this can be caused by changes to the weather. The dry, cold winter air, which can cause your lips to get chapped, makes them more vulnerable to a cold sore outbreak.

Without any treatment, cold sores typically clear up on their own in about 10 days. But there are some ways to make that time pass by a little more comfortably.

Your pharmacist can recommend various creams to ease the pain and irritation, antiviral creams that accelerate the healing process, as well as cold sore patches (like the COMPEED® Cold Sore Discreet Healing patch) that protect the skin while it heals.

COMPEED® patches starts to work from the first sign of a cold sore and helps your body’s natural healing process. They contain hydrocolloid active gel technology, which creates the optimal germ-free healing environment to help prevent the scab forming and the cold sore from spreading. The patch is very discreet and remains in place for up to 12 hours. You can find out more about COMPEED® cold sore patches, including how to apply it, here.

Expert advice

Dr. Savaş Altan, a Medical Aesthetic at Vera Clinic, explained why our lips are more sensitive in winter: “There are many reasons your lips get drier during the winter. The cold air and winds with the contrast of the centrally heated air inside can chap and cause lips to become dry. The skin on your lips is much thinner and more delicate than other parts of your body. Plus, the sensitive skin on your lips is usually not covered even in winter clothing so they’re more exposed to the winter weather than the rest of your body.”

He continued: “Lips become chapped as they do not have the oil-producing glands that are found over the rest of the body. As a result, lips produce fewer oils to help keep them moist therefore, putting lip oil on your lips to prevent dryness will nourish, soften, and protect your lips from dehydration and cracking.”

Dr Atlan also recommended staying hydrated, covering our lips with a scarf in colder, harsh weather, and using SPF when we go outside.


Overall, the method that works best for you will be down to personal preference. But now that you’ve got the low-down on some of the ways you can protect your lips this winter, hopefully you, and your lips, will feel equipped to enter the season with confidence.