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Rash on Lips

Rash on Lips

There are many causes for the occurrence of rashes on lips. Given below are the various causes and treatment options for dealing with the same...
Dr. Sumaiya Khan
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
A rash is any kind of skin change that leads to a change in the color and the texture of the skin. The rash may be either localized to one region of the skin, or it may be generalized. These rashes may even appear as a part of a systemic disorder or may be solitary in nature. There are many causes of a lip rash. They range from mild environmental conditions like dryness and heat, to cancerous conditions like squamous cell carcinoma.
Actinic Cheilitis
It is a type of cheilitis where there is inflammation of the lips. The lips may even become scaly and indurated eventually. There is often a clear upper lip rash seen, with fazing of the vermilion border of the lips. The vermilion border of the lips is the region where the red skin of the lips meets the normal skin. This condition is similar to actinic keratosis that affects the skin. It is caused due to excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation, although a history of tobacco usage and poor oral hygiene is also said to play a role. People who have a light skin tone are more prone to this condition.
  • Actinic cheilitis is considered to be a precancerous lesion and so it needs to be treated at the earliest.
  • There are a few topical medications which help to get rid of the scaliness of the lips.
  • However, as a preventive measure, it is mandatory to use sun protection.
  • In case of precancerous or suspected cancerous growths, it is best to visit a dentist and get the condition diagnosed and treated at the earliest.
Cold Sores
Cold sores are nothing but herpetic ulcers that occur on the skin of the lips. Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that affects the mucocutaneous membranes of the body. These lesions on the lips start off as small blisters which may burst leading to rash on lips and around mouth. These rashes eventually become painful ulcers which may lead to scarring.
  • The treatment for cold sores will mostly consist of the application of topical antiviral drugs.
  • This will only help to abate the symptoms, rather than cure the disease.
Angular Cheilitis
Angular cheilitis is a condition where inflammation is seen only at the angles of the mouth. This condition can occur due to either ill-fitting dentures or due to chronic deficiency of vitamin B. In this condition, the corners of the mouth become inflamed due to which there may be difficulty in opening the mouth, which may lead to tearing of the skin in this region.
  • Angular cheilitis treatment will consist of getting the dentures resized or remade, or taking vitamin B supplements, depending on the cause.
Common Wart
Common wart is generally a small rough tumor that occurs mostly on the hands and feet (plantar surfaces) though it can also occur on other parts of the body. Warts that occur on or near the lips are the filiform or digitate warts, which are finger like or thread like warts. These warts are caused due to a virus known as HPV (human papilloma virus), which is a contagious virus, as it can be contracted by coming in contact with a person suffering from this condition.
  • The treatment for warts will entail the use of antiviral drugs (oral and topical).
  • In some cases, excision may be performed.
Oral Melanotic Macule
An oral melanotic macule is merely a benign dark spot that is found on the lips or even on the inside of the mouth. When found on the lips, it is also known as a labial melanotic macule. These are normally flat lesions that appear as a solitary non-itchy lip rash. It has a well-defined border and a uniform color. This is commonly seen in middle aged dark skinned people.
  • A skin biopsy will be essential to confirm whether the spot is an oral melanotic macule or not.
  • Once this is done, the spots can be treated with cryotherapy, laser therapy or excision may be performed.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
One of the most severe and dangerous conditions that may appear as a rash on lips initially is oral squamous cell carcinoma. This is especially seen as a pink to red scaly rash on the face and lips. Over time, the lesion becomes larger and deeper and eventually starts bleeding. This is caused due to smoking and excessive sun exposure.
  • The treatment for this condition usually depends on the size and location of the lesions.
  • It may be dealt with topical medications or can be completely removed with a minor surgery.
  • In some cases one or more treatment methods may be essential, like chemotherapy, laser therapy, freezing, radiation therapy, etc.
Contact Dermatitis
It is a skin condition wherein allergic reactions are seen around the lips, mouth and several other parts of the body. There are two types of this health condition- Allergic dermatitis and Irritant dermatitis.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
It is a result of an allergic reaction to several cosmetic products like lip balm, lipstick, lotions, jewelry, perfume, metals like nickel, natural rubber, hair dyes, etc. The most common allergen that is present in these products is poison ivy, which causes instant rash. Other allergens may take a few hours to show the symptoms.
Irritant Contact Dermatitis
It is the most common type of contact dermatitis as compared to allergic dermatitis. The irritants are classified into two types viz., chemical and physical irritants. Chemical irritants include solvents, soaps, water, detergent, acids, alkalis and friction. Physical irritant contact dermatitis may be caused due to low humidity from air conditioning and certain plants directly irritating the skin.
  • You will have to seek help from your dermatologist or doctor to treat these allergies and undergo certain tests to identify the allergen.
  • Once you know what exactly you are allergic to, it will be easier to locate it in the environment and avoid future contact.
  • After this is done, the doctor will start a proper course of treatment for you.
Food Allergy

It is usually because of the protein content in the food. However, apart from food, these proteins may be present in pollens, house dust, molds or animal hair that cause allergic reactions. They are called allergens and the immune system responds to these substances as toxic elements. Food allergy can be a hereditary problem; if one person in the family has this problem, there is 30-40% risk of other members getting this allergy. A list of foods that might aggravate the allergy symptoms have been enlisted below:

  • Peanuts
  • Fish
  • Gluten
  • Sesame
  • Eggs
  • Grains like wheat, oats, rye, etc.
  • Milk
  • Soy
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Mustard
  • Shellfish
  • Other nuts

In children, a rash around lips indicate contact with milk or other things like bubble gum or toothpaste. In women, excessive chocolate intake may reflect a rash between the lower lip and chin.
  • The best way to treat food allergy is to avoid the foods causing problem.
  • Consult your health care provider before eliminating the use of allergenic foods from your diet.
  • Avoiding these foods for sometime and reintroducing them in small quantities will make it easier for the body to tolerate them.

A rash on lips may or may not signify a serious underlying disorder. However, it is best to take good care of your lips, with proper sun protection and by making use of lip balms that do not have any harmful ingredients, so as to do away with the possibility of suffering from rashes on lips. Take Care!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical expert.