Eczema is a group of conditions that cause itching and inflammation of the skin. It can affect any part of the body, including the lips. Lip eczema is a skin irritation that can make your lips red, itchy, cracked, and painful. In this article from The Dermo Lab and in collaboration with the dermatologist Dr. Sherin Atalla, we’ll look at the causes, symptoms, and treatment of eczema on the lips.
What is lip eczema?
According to Dr. Sherin Atalla, lip eczema is an inflammation of the lips that manifests itself as redness accompanied by dryness and scaling, and sometimes painful cracking. It should be differentiated from chapped lips because they are usually temporary, whereas lip eczema tends to be long-lasting (chronic).
This condition is not contagious, so it cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
What causes lip eczema?
Dr. Sherin Atalla divides the causes of eczema of the lips into two groups:
- The first group: The condition is due to endogenous causes, such as atopic dermatitis that begins in childhood with inherent characteristics.
- The second group: It is due to exogenous causes, for example, irritant or allergic contact reactions of the lips. Triggers can be numerous contacts with the lips, such as cosmetics, lip balms, toothpaste, or mouthwash, excessive licking, biting, or sucking of the lips. Loss of moisture and elasticity with age or exposure to hot or cold temperatures and nutritional deficiencies can also trigger lip eczema.
Dr. Sherin Atalla adds that lip eczema is common in children, but adults can also be affected. People with atopic dermatitis or who are allergic to a lot of lip contact are more likely to have lip eczema.
What are the symptoms of this condition?
Lip eczema can affect your upper lip, your lower lip, or both. It can also spread to the skin around your lips. Rarely, it invades the inner lining of your mouth. Some people don’t have lip irritation for weeks or months, then the symptoms flare up and get worse.
Lip dermatitis can make your lips:
- Cracked or fissured
Eczema on the lips is not the same as dry lips. People with lip eczema may have dry lips, but their lips are usually very chapped. They can also be inflamed and scaly.
Keep reading to learn about the treatment of eczema on the lips and how to prevent it.
How to cure eczema on the lips?
Eczema around the lips is treated by identifying and eliminating or managing the cause of the problem. Therefore, treatment varies depending on the type of lip eczema you have.
For irritant or allergic types of lip eczema, treatment will consist of identifying the cause of the irritation or allergy and stopping the use of a product or limiting contact with the trigger.
For lip eczema related to atopic dermatitis, management of this condition should provide relief from the symptoms of lip eczema.
Consider these treatment tips if your lip eczema is related to atopic dermatitis:
- Use a humidifier if dry air makes your skin dry.
- Moisturize your skin and lips. Apply lip balm several times a day, including after your bath or shower. Use lukewarm water to wash your face rather than hot water, as hot water can further dry out your lips.
- Use gentle skin care and dental products that are free of perfumes, dyes, and alcohol. Look for products labeled “fragrance-free”, “hypoallergenic” and “for sensitive skin”.
- Avoid excessive lip licking. Make an effort to notice when you do this and change your behavior.
- Take over-the-counter antihistamines for severe itching, and avoid scratching your lips.
These tips can not only help you relieve the symptoms of lip eczema, but also prevent future flare-ups.
What is the prognosis for people with lip eczema?
Lip eczema, like atopic dermatitis, tends to be a chronic condition. It can come and go, so your lips may be clear for a long time before you experience a flare-up. In children, the condition tends to improve with age.
Frequently asked questions
Below we answer the most common questions about lip eczema.
How does it spread?
Eczema is not contagious, so it cannot spread from person to person. However, it can spread on the body. How this happens depends on the type of eczema.
Contact dermatitis, for example, spreads if the source of the irritation comes into contact with other parts of the body. Sometimes eczema can appear to spread, but it can develop in many different places independently.
How long does it take to heal?
Various factors can influence how long it takes for lip eczema to heal, such as its severity and the treatment the person uses. There is no cure for eczema, but it can be controlled. If possible, it is best to see a dermatologist, who can determine a treatment plan.
What else could it be?
People may confuse the symptoms of other conditions with eczema. The following conditions, for example, can produce similar symptoms:
- cold sores
- mouth ulcers
- chapped lips
Lip eczema is a skin condition that causes redness, dryness, and peeling of the lips. It can be troubling because it affects your appearance. However, regardless of the cause, there are ways to manage this condition.
The best way to prevent this condition is to avoid triggers, such as allergens or irritants. It’s also helpful to avoid products that may be irritating to your skin, such as those containing alcohol or other harsh ingredients. If you know or suspect that you have lip eczema, it’s best to make an appointment with a dermatologist.