Cheilitis is inflammation of the lips. This inflammation may include the perioral skin (the skin around the mouth), the vermilion border, and/or the labial mucosa. The skin and the vermilion border are more commonly involved, as the mucosa is less affected by inflammatory and allergic reactions.
It is a general term, and there are many recognized types and different causes. Cheilitis can be either acute or chronic. Most cheilitis is caused by exogenous factors such as dryness (chapping) and acute sun exposure. Patch testing may identify allergens that cause cheilitis.
Chapped lips (also cheilitis simplex or common cheilitis) are characterized by cracking, fissuring, and peeling of the skin of the lips, and are one of the most common types of cheilitis. While both lips may be affected, the lower lip is the most common site.There may also be burning or the formation of large, painful cracks when the lips are stretched. If chronic, cheilitis simplex can progress to crusting and bleeding.