Here’s Why Your Lips Are So Dry During Pregnancy

Photo: Stocksy / Palina Liashkovich

During pregnancy, your body goes through many changes. The most common and notable changes include nausea, fatigue, sore breasts, mood swings, and frequent urination. However, pregnancy's effect on the skin is often overlooked. Research shows that up to 90% of pregnant women will experience skin changes, including dry lips, some mild and some more severe. 

During pregnancy, you may notice your skin is more flaky than usual, or you may experience patches of dry skin that don't improve with your daily routine. Dryness can impact your entire face and can also concentrate in specific areas like the lips. Luckily, there's an explanation for dry skin during pregnancy; better yet, it doesn't have to be permanent. Ahead, we talk to Tarek Shaath, MD, FAAD, and Munira Dudhbhai, MD, FACOD, and the founder of Lewisville Women's Care, who break down the causes of dry skin during pregnancy and what to do about them. 

Experts In This Article

What causes dry skin during pregnancy?

"Hormonal fluctuations, changes in blood volume, and increased nutritional demands during pregnancy can collectively contribute to dry skin and lips [during pregnancy]," says Dudhbhai. These hormonal changes can lead to decreased oil production, contributing to dry skin, explains Shaath, medical director of Care Dermatology. "Increased blood flow to the skin can contribute to dryness," Shaath says. 

How can you relieve dry lips during pregnancy?

Dry skin can create a snowball effect, resulting in other concerns like itchiness, redness, or sensitivity. Luckily, there are many effective remedies for dry skin during pregnancy. Dudhbhai recommends staying hydrated and using a humidifier, which puts moisture back into the air, preventing your skin from drying out.

Shaath recommends using a hypoallergenic lip balm with shea butter, beeswax, or coconut oil if your lips feel drier than usual. Our experts suggest avoiding products with potential irritants or harsh chemicals to prevent the risk of further dryness. If you're specifically sensitive to fragrances, look for an unscented lip balm, which lowers the risk of irritation. Our experts say to opt for lip (and skin) products focusing on naturally derived, nourishing ingredients during pregnancy. So, the shorter the ingredient list, the better. 

You should expect to see some changes in your skin throughout pregnancy. And while some dry skin is to be expected, you can treat and prevent it by incorporating these steps:

Using a lip balm frequently

In addition to maintaining a gentle skincare routine, Shaath recommends using a lip balm proactively, especially in dry or cold environments. The combination of pregnancy and dry or cold climates can cause your lips to become extremely chapped, so applying lip balm in the morning, throughout the day as needed, and before you go to bed should help combat this. However, balance is critical. Applying lip balm too frequently can have the opposite effect, further drying your lips. 

Focusing on diet and hydration

Since dehydration can cause dry lips, Dudhbhai expresses the importance of staying hydrated throughout the day. Pregnant people should aim for 8-10 glasses of water daily. "You should also try to eat foods rich in vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, which support skin health," says Dudhbhai. 

When are dry lips a cause for concern?

"In general, dry lips alone are not a cause for concern," says Dudhbhai. "However, if accompanied by severe dehydration, it could indicate an issue." Severe dry lips could be an indicator of hyperemesis gravidarum, which is the term used to describe intense nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. According to Dudhbhai, symptoms of hyperemesis include severe nausea, frequent vomiting, dehydration, weight loss, and electrolyte imbalances. Women with hyperemesis may struggle to keep food and fluids down, leading to fatigue and weakness. In many cases, people suffering from hyperemesis may be hospitalized for further medical treatment. Therefore, you should speak to your doctor if you are dealing with frequent dry lips and showing hyperemesis symptoms. 

Tips for staying hydrated during pregnancy

While dry lips can indicate a severe issue, it can often be remedied by simply increasing your water intake. Here are some tips on staying hydrated during pregnancy:

Sip water throughout the day

Throughout pregnancy, you should aim to sip water throughout the day. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding some fruit, flavored water, or decaffeinated tea to your diet. Generally, these liquids can help you stay energized and hydrated throughout the day, preventing dry lips and skin.

Eat more fruit and vegetables 

Many fruits and vegetables contain adequate levels of water, which can supplement your diet and keep you hydrated throughout the day. Some good examples are cucumber, tomatoes, oranges, and watermelon. 

Set reminders

When in doubt, set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to keep drinking water. You may want to set it to go off every hour.

Check your urine

Dudhbhai recommends that you monitor your urine color so you know if you're staying hydrated. Pale yellow indicates proper hydration, so that's what you should be aiming for. If your urine looks dark, then start increasing your water intake as well as your intake of fruits and vegetables. If you have any concerns, always consult your healthcare provider.

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Vora, Rita V et al. “Pregnancy and skin.” Journal of family medicine and primary care vol. 3,4 (2014): 318-24. doi:10.4103/2249-4863.148099
  2. Kumari, Rashmi et al. “A clinical study of skin changes in pregnancy.” Indian journal of dermatology, venereology and leprology vol. 73,2 (2007): 141. doi:10.4103/0378-6323.31910
  3. Montgomery, Kristen S. “Nutrition Column An Update on Water Needs during Pregnancy and Beyond.” The Journal of perinatal education vol. 11,3 (2002): 40-2. doi:10.1624/105812402X88830

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