20 answers

How Do I Get My 3 Year Old to Stop Licking His Lips So Much?

My 3 1/2 year old has been licking his lips and around his lips a lot the past couple weeks. As a result he has dry patches that are really red and even a spot that looks like it may have been bleeding a little. I have used vasoline, and chapstick on it but he continues to lick it. How can I get him to stop and what can I put on it to heal it faster?

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Thanks for all the great advice. I'm glad to hear that this is very common. I've been giving him a lot more water, and at night I have put vitamin E on it. In the morning it looks great. But by evening it is all red again from his licking, so I have started to be more diligent during the day.

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Try bag balm. You can get it at cvs, and it heals it very quickly, and tastes icky, so he will be less likely to lick it. A friend of my daughters had this same habit, getting a huge red ring around her mouth every winter, and she got to the point that every time she came to stay a few days with us, she asked for the bag balm. By the time she went home, it would be cleared up. Her mom just used vaseline on it, and as I said, she would ask me for the bag balm as soon as she got to my house. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Last year, my then two and a half year old, had the same problem. I took him to the pediatrician because it had gotten so bad he was getting some cracking around his lips. Anyway, the pediatrician told me he was dehydrated (always happens around this time of year through spring). I went to Target and got the Target brand lip balm in a small jar. It was a two pack, small white jar with the red Target lid. It was unflavored so he didn't lick it more and really he didn't like it but it helped so much!

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Try bag balm. You can get it at cvs, and it heals it very quickly, and tastes icky, so he will be less likely to lick it. A friend of my daughters had this same habit, getting a huge red ring around her mouth every winter, and she got to the point that every time she came to stay a few days with us, she asked for the bag balm. By the time she went home, it would be cleared up. Her mom just used vaseline on it, and as I said, she would ask me for the bag balm as soon as she got to my house. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

It's kind of expensive but try Abreva. It's actually a cold sore medicine, but that's what our doctor told us to use for my son. There's also lip medex in the little blue barrel that works really well but is medicated so it burns a bit. Vaseline doesn't help at all once the "chapness" has begun.

This might sound weird - does he have any other ticks, like eye-blinking, shrugging, etc. Our son had some of these with the lip licking, and just by chance, had him checked out by a chiropractor. He had something out of line pushing on his nerves, and when he got that straightened out, all of his ticks and licking went away just like that.

Last year, my then two and a half year old, had the same problem. I took him to the pediatrician because it had gotten so bad he was getting some cracking around his lips. Anyway, the pediatrician told me he was dehydrated (always happens around this time of year through spring). I went to Target and got the Target brand lip balm in a small jar. It was a two pack, small white jar with the red Target lid. It was unflavored so he didn't lick it more and really he didn't like it but it helped so much!

A friend of mine (health professional) commented on my son's "moustache" from licking his lips - she had gotten some continuing ed info on this condition. She recommends a mixture of Lamasil (the athlete's foot/anti-fungal med) and hydrocortisone. I am trying this on him this week.
Another thing that works okay is plain old A&D (the diaper rash ointment) - I slather that on at night.
I'd like to find something that is not toxic but tastes so nasty that he stops licking, but haven't done that yet.

Hi T.,
Many children do this, so you child is not unusual. I have been in the health care field for 3 decades, and just wanted you to know that Vaseline and Chapstick are petroleum based and will keep his lips irritated. If Chapstick cured the problem, they would be out of business- it just perpetuates the problem and doesn't heal it. Go to the drugstore and ask for a stick of pure cocoa butter. This will be much better for your child. Also some pure Vit. E oil might help, too.
I hope this helps.
M.

First off, did you realize that licking ones lips is a sign of dehydration?

When someone is suffering from lack of water they start licking their lips to rehydrate them.....

Both of my kids do this and it is so bad they look like they ate a thing of lipstick.

Get him to drink more water and if you still want to put something on his lips I would suggest something that if he ingests it is not going to hurt him....so watch the night creams and stuff. I even try to stay away from vasaline, and go with the Burts Bees stuff, or Carmex.

Good luck give him an extra glass of water.

Chelle E.

My son did the exact same thing...put in on him when he is sleeping!

Hello T., Get him some chapstick. Keep it in your pocket and put it on often or when he asks. Good luck.

i second the lanolin. the issue with topical medications and vaseline is the chemicals that he will be injesting. petroleum jelly is PETROLEUM, like what we put in our cars. lanolin is great because it is safe for even the tiniest infant, its lick resistant since its so sticky and it is naturally healing. i love it for myself and my daughter for any dry skin issues. also, now that the heaters are running, give him lots of water to drink and this will hydrate him so his lips arent so dry. i know when i am dehydrated my lips are the first thing to show it! good luck.

Try Blistex medicated. It comes in a squeeze tube and it tastes terrible so he won't lick it off. Try it at Bedtime. You should see a dramatic improvement after only a day or two. If not go to the doctor. Good Luck

I have a 3 1/2 yo daughter who does this as well....how funny that so many at this age. I put Mary Kays extra emolient night cream on her lips and that helps her poor lips so much!

www.marykay.com/sarahemitchell if you are interested

Hi T. - I have the exact same problem with my son who is also 3 1/2. I was at the pediatrician today and she told me to put aquaphor on it (all the way around his mouth)when he goes to bed. I bought some today and will be trying it tonight. Good luck!

I wanted to add that you can make your own balm if you know where to purchase the 'organic' supplies. Mostly, if you go into the health food store for Coco butter, beeswax, Apricot / Coconut oils (or any 'cold-pressed' oils will do) and you can combine it to put on the lips or anywhere that is dry.

I have a bunch I made for my son and it is the only thing that works - it stays on all night for me, too! :)

T.,
You've received loads of wonderful advice on how to treat the chapped lips. Something to consider is why is it suddenly happening? Is your child stressed, or has anything changed in your household recently?
Long story here, but my 3 1/2 year old started licking and chewing on his upper lip and it turned out that preschool was stressing him out. There were some "personalities" in his classroom that he could not handle, and following the advise of my pediatrician (who is the one who clued me in that his chapped lips were a stress behavior) we pulled him from school. I don't know your situation enough to know that your kiddos situation is a stress related one, but it would have never occured to me if my pediatrician hadn't brought it up.
By the way, we found aquaphor very soothing to relieve the redness. And also, once we removed the stress he stopped the lip licking and chewing.
Good luck. I hope you find something that works for you both.

Sorry I can't be of more help - but it's a phase and will pass. One of my kids did the same thing at that age and it was horrible. When he's asleep at night keep slathering on Vaseline so his lips get a chance to heal just a bit then. Really, tho', it will get better.

It may be a nervous habit he has developed. Has anything changed recently in his life?

Also, how much water does he drink on a daily basis?

My kids would rarely use chapstick at that age and if they did they'd eat most of the tub. So after they fall asleep at night I'd put vasoline on them. It would be all better by morning. Good luck!

I continue to use my lansinoh breast feeding cream that was meant for me on her! It is a little sticky. But whenever she gets chapped lips, or even an irritated nose -or even scrapes on her knees- I use it! There was definitly more in that tube than I could use, but it works great & is meant to be OK for their little mouths to have contact with! I think Vaseline drys out more than it moisturizes.
It is a phase, but I think the less their lips hurt- the less they want to lick.

My son does the same things and his lips are horrible as well he will actually suck on his lips good luck I just use chapstick like 20 times a day!

Johnson's soothing naturals soothe and protect balm is the best kid safe product I have found for skin chapping. It looks like a mini deodorant stick and smells positively heavenly. Use it anywhere there is chaffing or chapping, particularly on wind-burned cheeks, drool chapped chins, and overly licked "moustaches". It is not made to be used on lips, but is non-toxic and unflavored/undyed so if they get some in their mouth before it is absorbed it won't hurt them or cause them to want to lick more. Dehydration is the cause for the licking. It's not always possible to get kids to drink more water, but you can try giving fruit (particularly grapes and citrus) with high water contents for snack and watering down juices if they drink them. Go out and buy a really fun sippy cup, sucky bottle, or twirly straw that is ONLY for water to get them excited about drinking. Stay away from petroleum-based "chapstick" and instead look for beeswax-based products like burt's bees (the best ever!) but choose wisely, the minty kind stings a little on sore skin. You can try putting a sticker of their favorite cartoon character on the tube to make it more appealing. Good luck! My daughter does this lip licking thing every winter and it's just an ongoing battle... But these tricks sure do help

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