We have entered the chapped lips time of year Fall and Winter. When the weather gets cooler and everyone turns their heat on in their home, our skin and lips naturally get more dry. Many young children lick their lips more often in reaction to the dryness. The excessively licking the lips results in even more dryness once the saliva dries on the lips and the skin around the mouth. Not drinking enough causes increased dryness. So try increase the child's water intake. Although there are many, many products that help dry lips, you will frequently hear us recommend Aquaphor Healing Ointment or the new Aquaphor Lip Repair by Biersdorf. More information is available on these over the counter items here. It is important to have the proper expectations about these products: you will likely have to apply them multiple times per day, remind your child to not lick (instead, ask for more lip ointment!), and do this for many days until the Spring season arrives. The peak years for this licking/chapped/licking/chapped cycle is 2-8 years of age.
Being outside in the cold weather often makes lips chapped. In the coming months, when your children are out on cold weather adventures such as making a snowman, skiing, snowboarding, and sledding, putting on Aquaphor or another similar product ahead of time sure can help prevent chapped lips. Applying it again when your child arrives inside will also help. Older kids can put a stick of ChapStick or Blistex in their pocket of their coat so they can reapply when they need it.
Thumb sucking and pacifier use increase the chances of having not just dry lips but a rash around the mouth. The rashes often look chapped and irritated. It is not likely, unless things have gotten more complicated (read below), that it will look scabbed, very red, or show much peeling. I personally do not think you should stress about this rash because it is so difficult to get it to look much better until your child cuts back or stops sucking their thumb or using their pacifier. It is fine to apply some Aquaphor Healing Ointment to this area. The small amount that your child might get into their mouth after you do this is not worrisome.
There are times when just coating the dryness will not help. If the above measures do not help, especially if the rash around the lips is quite painful, itchy, peeling, blistered, or scabbed, we should see your child at walk-ins or a scheduled appointment to better assess what is going on and how to help. There are cases of yeast (or ringworm or fungal -- all mean the same thing here), bacterial (impetigo, others), or viral (herpes simplex virus) infections that will need further treatment. We also see some children who have eczema (atopic dermatitis) who have rashes around the mouth that need something besides just moisturizing the area.