25 answers

Trying to Break Daughters Habit of Licking Her Mouth, It's So Chapped and Red

My daughter is 3 years old. She has developed this habit of licking all around her mouth. It's all red and chapped all the way around! We keep telling her to stop licking when we see her doing it. But she doesn't even relize when she is doing it. Is there something I can put on her that will protect the chapped area, maybe keep her from licking, but that isn't toxic if she licks it? Is A&D cream, petroleuim and lanolin, going to make her sick if she licks that? Maybe something that tastes bad so she will break the habit. Help! She looks like a clown!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you for all the thoughtful replies! All of it helpful and valuable information. I liked the idea of giving her her own little lip gloss, it's a natural herbal one. I gave it to her and told her, every time you feel like you want to lick your mouth, just take out your lipstick and put it on. She is really into it. It is working great, I catch her lick for a second and then go, oh, stop and put the lip balm on. She keeps it in her pocket. The redness is gone. I am putting the aquafor on at bedtime to keep her face from drying out again. Thanks!!

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I give my kids their own special chapstick....they make nemo and princess ones...I also put a little bit of oil of olay on them after bath or before bed if it's really bad...

1 mom found this helpful

Baby Aquaphor is the BEST. I smear it all over my kids' lips, chin, and nose every morning and night, and that is the only reason why they don't have chapped faces. It is FABulous. Good luck!

When my brother was little an allergist suggested we use Neosporin on his lips and nose. I've been using it ever since when I've had a raw nose from a cold or chapped/cracked lips. If I put a lot on before I go to bed, my skin is significantly better in the am.

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My daughter used to do the same thing. We used Aquaphor and it worked great. I would put a thin layer on several times a day and then I'd make sure it was really coated before bedtime.

1 mom found this helpful

I give my kids their own special chapstick....they make nemo and princess ones...I also put a little bit of oil of olay on them after bath or before bed if it's really bad...

1 mom found this helpful

The whole reason for licking is because the skin feels tight and dry, which begets more licking. Lanolin is perfectly safe. You use it on your nipples while breastfeeding and the baby can ingest it. Avoid chapstick. Most of those products have alcohol (any word ending in -ol)and will only dry the area out more. Try putting on lotion after her bath. The pores are open and will absorb more to keep skin moist.

1 mom found this helpful

My 4 year old was doing this too. He did it because his lips were chapped due to a stuffy nose. Chapstick is what we use. He has chapstick by his bed and one in his school backpack. I have chapstick everywhere in my house, in my car, my purse, so i am always applying to his lips. My husband and I explained over and over and over again that licking his lips dry them out even more and making them hurt even more. It didn't work. One day I lost my patience and yelled at him. He stopped.

I wouldn't use A&D - that stuff isn't for oral use. Lanolin is great. I use that on my baby's mouth & nose when he is dry & chapped. I prefer good ole chapstick though because it is inexpensive, easily to carry with you, and easy to just whip out & use.

One thing that may help is that i would apply chapstick, aquaphor, lanolin - depending on the severity of his lips, while he was sleeping. That way it stays on his lips healing them all night long. Good luck.


1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.,
Try blistex in the little round blue container. It's fantastic for the chapped lips. I can't guarantee she'll stop the lip-licking, though, but maybe she'll stop when the lips are moisturized. Ask your local pharmacist for suggestions as well.
Good luck!

I have a 8 yr old son who does this. We just went through this with his lips, cheeks and chin being so chapped that he ended up with a bacterial infection in the skin. However I used A&D ointment (non zinc) - the gold color. On the box it even says that it is good for chapped lips. Sometimes using regular chap stick will make matters worse, I would be careful with regular chap stick. With in hours his face looked so much better. I had tried everything before that...and I mean everything but A&D was my savior. Good luck! Another tip...if you can put on a nice cool (luke warm) wash cloth before applying the ointment or cream. This helps to soften up the skin so it can be absorbed quicker and better.

My son was the same way and at times he still does it. I spoke with my pediatrician who advised we ignore it and gave us cream to apply during the day and at night as well. The more attention you give to it the more she will do it. Yes it does get pretty nasty looking, trust me I know where you are coming from. My son is now almost 12 and is finally changing. I do find that when he is in trouble or upset he will lick around his lips, but even that is becoming less of an issue.
Hope this helps.

My daughter did the same thing and her doctor said it's a zinc deficiency. She is now on zinc and the licking has stopped. Hope this helps.

When my brother was little an allergist suggested we use Neosporin on his lips and nose. I've been using it ever since when I've had a raw nose from a cold or chapped/cracked lips. If I put a lot on before I go to bed, my skin is significantly better in the am.

I have been told that this is a nervous habit,
I used good old fashioned Chap Stick, and it works, also very good is blistex, I buy a HUGE pack from Costco's and hand them out when needed, -- you child is still small so i would suggest that you apply it several times a day,
first on your self and when you feel your lips are dry, re apply to BOTH lips. You need to be vigilant about applying it,
and apply it at first SIGNS of licking. If her lips feel dry she will lick them, so make sure you help moisten them up.


My daughter has been doing this too and I've found the more I tell her not to the more she tests me and does. She has even been waiting until I turn around to do it so she can get caught! I think part of it can be a test of wills but I've been sneaking into her room and putting vaseline or medicated Blistex (the one from the tube)on her in her sleep. It really has helped. Good Luck!

i have used vaseline many times on lips because my kids are just like that too. my 5 yr old uses chapstick now tho but that might taste too good to your daughter.
vaseline taste bad and she wont keep licking her lips
i even use it under my 5 yr olds nose when shes got a bad cold and it gets red from too much tissue blowing. clears up overnight but if she has a clown face it may take a few days to clear up.
hope this helps. it should clear it up pretty quickly if she leaves it alone.

Hi K.: It sounds like she is trying to moisturize her lips when they feel dry. You could try a chap stick that she can use as needed and it would help. One of my sons had that problem and it worked for him. M. P.

I found that chapstick was my savior from this. I told Isabella that if I put "lipstick" on her she would have to be a big girl like mommy and NOT lick her lips or there will be no "lipstick" left. And I used a very generic, non-flavored one so she wouldn't be temptemed to lick it. Also she was the same age.

I agree with the suggestion for lanolin. I use lanolin on my nipples when they get sore from breastfeeding - and that is food grade safe...so no need to wipe it off before the baby nurses, so then it would be totally safe if your child injests it.

My 2.5 yr old does the same thing. I try not to call too much attention to it... I think she'll eventually stop. I put Aquaphor or Vaseline around her lips regularly... especially before bedtime where she's unlikely to lick it off and it will have more healing time. I don't think either products are toxic - she hasn't had any issues with it.
Good luck on baby#2!

Baby Aquaphor is the BEST. I smear it all over my kids' lips, chin, and nose every morning and night, and that is the only reason why they don't have chapped faces. It is FABulous. Good luck!

My kids also get horrible chapped lips and I have had tubes of Lansinoh lanolin in my house for 14 years, since I was nursing my oldest son. I even have the little "trial size" tube in my pocketbook. It's made to treat sore or chapped nipples in nursing moms, and the skin on your lips is very similar to the skin around the nipple. I have foudn that there is absolutely that can compare to it's ability to soothe and heal chapped lips. I figure if it's ok for nursing infants to get on their mouths, it's fine to apply to lips! You can find it in the baby aisle at most large drug stores. A little goes a long way. Good luck!

Maybe try using that lotion used for detering thumb-sucking?

I grew up with this. I still have it when I get stressed out. It hurts. I have used every lip balm I could find. Petroleum products like vaseline or aquaphor create a barrier and don't seems to sting, but they just coat the area. I cannot use chapstick. It burns for me. The blistex in the blue pot is pretty good but tingles from eucalyptus. I found this lip balm from the bodyshop, hemp lip protector. It protects like a petroleum product but seems to soften and penetrate the skin making it feel better. I won't use anything else now. Get it in the tin, it's cheeper and seems to be more creamy. This time of year is so dry. A humidifier could help and she may not be getting enough good oils, omega 3's. You can put flax oil in smoothies and she'd never know it was there.

Two of my kids have the same problem, they get a red, irritated outline around their mouths all of the time. I was putting A&D ointment on it and that clears it up. I just recently asked my Dr and her recommended Aquaphor. It's over the counter and it works on wet lips to keep them from cracking. I put it on everyday to help prevent the cracking and it lasts a long time. They are in the habit now of putting it on themselves

Hi K.! My son has started the same thing. I am definitely going to look into the zinc deficiency mentioned below. In the meantime, I use lysine ointment on the chapped area. I also take lysine orally for cold sores. It is an amino acid and completely natural! Good luck with #2!!

Hi K.,
I am not sure how to get her to stop. It seems to continue once lips are chapped. Think about it when yours are & you don't have anything on hand to put on, it seems automatic. The only thing I can suggest is a natural balm, you can find in a health food store. Perhaps it won't upset her stomach if she does lick it. I think once they are healed it will stop. My daughter is 3 also & I put the natural balm on her any chance I get, even if it is when she is sleeping. I can only get her to put on balm occassionally when we go out in the cold. Hope that helps. Good luck!
Blessings, T.
(attached to Gia-born to be natural & a blessing due 6/10/08)
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Hi..we had this exact problem last year with our son. So weird. It went away in warm weather, summer, etc. and thankfully seems to have disappeared this year. Maybe it is developmental in some way? He's 4.5 now. We used Aquaphor endlessly, and there is a natural lip balm called Everon by Weleda that really seems to stick in place. I gave up on trying to make him stop. I also, gasp, introduced gum (SPRY - natural food stores carry it), which kept his mouth busy. Vitamin E oil is soothing to chapped skin as well.

By any chance, does your daughter have issues with her digestion or elimination? Our son does and my acupuncturist said the red around his mouth was "heat." She recommended giving him Gorges brand Aloe Vera juice (which tastes like water!) to cool his gut. This also seems to work for us. Natural food store should have that too.

Good luck. It's an unsightly habit/look, isn't it?

I am having this conversation with my 2 dughters daily!! I put a dab of AQUAPHOR on thier lips and it works. I it doesn't burn b/c it is made for chapped skin. It acts as a lip balm and is safe if they happen to lick it. Chapstick and the fun flavor lip balms can't hold up to this weather!! Good luck!

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