Common Causes of Recurrent Lip Rash (Cheilitis)

Lip rashes (and rashes around the mouth) can be caused by various factors. Herpes simplex virus (HSV I and HSV II) is a common cause of rashes around the mouth and lips. The vesicular lesions cause by HSV are called cold sores or fever blisters. Impetigo is common bacterial infection that also can cause a rash on the face with oozing or golden-crusted lesions, often affecting the mouth and lips. Oral thrush (overgrowth of yeast in the mouth) can also cause lip irritation. Yeast infections at the corners of the mouth are not uncommon in people with no teeth. Most dermatologists will easily be able to diagnose these types of lip rashes that are caused by pathogens. Psoriasis and lichen planus are skin diseases that can also manifest on the lips (although this isn’t very common).  Hypothyroidism and Sjögren’s Syndrome are diseases that can cause very dry lips (though there are also other symptoms that are more prevalent than just lip involvement in each of those illnesses). Erythema multiforme can cause lesions on the lips when there is mucosal involvement. Chronic glandular cheilitis is a persistent problem in which the lips swell, turn outward (evert), peel and crust repeatedly.  It is thought to be caused by chronic irritation by sun, wind and/or tobacco.

HSV I affecting the lips

HSV I affecting the lips
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

The general condition of inflamed lips is called cheilitis and the symptoms can include lip swelling, redness, itchiness, stinging/burning, oozing, crusting, peeling, and/or flaking. Cheilitis can develop in patients with Crohn’s disease (often appears as redness and scaling around the lips), it can develop after chronic sun damage (solar cheilitis) or it can result as an allergic reaction to certain drugs. People who have eczema (atopic dermatitis) are prone to develop cheilitis. Chronic angular cheilitis (cracking at the lateral corners of the lips; also called perlèche) can develop when there is a deficiency of certain nutrients such as B vitamins (esp. riboflavin), iron (may also have generalized itchy skin), and/or zinc; it can develop as an irritant reaction to saliva (often seen in teething babies and people who wear dentures), or it can result from frequent licking of the lips (often the patient doesn’t even realize they are doing it) . Enzymes in our saliva are irritating to the delicate skin of our lips and when saliva on the lips dries, it leads to further evaporation of moisture in our lips. So frequent licking of the lips, lip biting, drooling at night or mouth breathing can cause direct irritation or dryness that may lead to cheilitis over time. Exfoliative cheilitis is when the lips continuously peel and this condition can develop from any type of chronic cheilitis.

Common presentation of impetigo at corners of lips.

Common presentation of impetigo at corners of lips.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

Cheilitis can also be caused by allergens or irritants and sometimes it takes a good deal of detective work to figure out what the underlying trigger is. Just so you are aware, there are far too many possible allergens and irritants that cause skin rashes for me to list all of them here. The rest of this post will cover the most common allergens and irritants that cause chronic or recurrent cheilitis and how to avoid them.

If you suffer from recurrent or chronic lip rash and you cannot figure out the cause, it would be advisable to avoid ALL of the following ingredients in ALL of your skin care and hygiene products. These ingredients may be found in lotions, balms, ointments, sun block, cleansers, soap, shampoo, conditioner, toners, cosmetics (foundation, mascara, lipstick/gloss, pressed powder), makeup remover, laundry detergent, body wash, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash. You can develop an allergy to an ingredient that you never reacted to in the past.  This is called a Type IV Hypersensitivity Reaction:  you develop the allergy by being exposed to the particular substance repeatedly over a period of time.  So that lipstick that you’ve been wearing for 10 years… it can suddenly cause itching and swelling of your lips even though that had never happened all the times you’ve worn it in the past.  In addition, it is especially important to avoid these potential allergens in all the products you use because even if these allergens do not come into direct contact with your lips themselves, contact with skin anywhere on the body can trigger or aggravate your lips. I shall list them in order of most likely culprit to least likely.

Potential ALLERGENS Found in Skin Care and Personal Hygiene Products:

The redness extended halfway up to my nose, though it is difficult to see in this photo

Allergic cheilitis due to propolis allergy.
Copyright © 2009 Zi Zai Dermatology, LLC.

  • **Fragrance** (avoid EVERYTHING that lists “fragrance” among its ingredients, including laundry detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets)
  • Propolis (found in lotions, toothpaste, unfiltered honey)
  • Beeswax (aka cera alba) – it is not the wax but the propolis in it that causes a reaction in those with propolis allergy (found in mascara, lotions, sunscreens, ointments, dental floss, hair-removing wax)
  • Chemical sun block ingredients (Octylcrylene, Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone); stick with the minerals zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide only
  • Artificial flavors or dyes (especially red dyes in food and lipsticks)
  • Balsam of Peru (in many cosmetics and packaged foods; if you are allergic to propolis, you are likely allergic to this as well.)
  • Carnauba Wax (those allergic to propolis may cross react with carnauba wax, a plant-based wax found in many vegan lip balms, mascaras, hair styling products)
  • Lanolin (emollient in many lotion, lip balms, lipsticks, ointments/balms)
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone /methylisothiazolinone (preservative found in MANY liquid cleansers such as body wash, shampoo, laundry detergent and BABY WIPES)
  • Parabens (preservatives in MANY skin care and personal hygiene products)
  • Propyl Gallate (antioxidant found in lipsticks and some foods that contain vegetable oils)
  • Fluoride (in toothpaste)
  • Tocopherol acetate (in lotions and sometimes added to Vitamin E oil)
  • Oils: castor oil, olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil (not common allergens, but possible)
  • Certain essential oils, esp. essential oils of citrus fruits (limonene)

Potential IRRITANTS Found in Skin Care and Personal Hygiene Products:

  • Benzoic acid (preservative in foods and cosmetics)
  • Bronopol (preservative in cosmetics and skin care products)
  • Dowicil 200 (preservative in cosmetics and skin care products)
  • Lactic acid (an alpha hodroxy acid; found in exfoliating and anti-wrinkle products)
  • Nonionic emulsifiers (found in lotions, liquid cleansers, shampoos, conditioners)
  • Propylene Glycol (found in many lotions and hair conditioners)
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds (such as benzalkonium chloride and benzethonium chloride; anti-static properties; used in shampoos, fabric softener)
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (most common cleansing agent in liquid soaps, shampoo, toothpaste)
  • Urea (emollient; in many lotions, often in those specifically formulated for sensitive skin!)

Some allergens found in foods, fabrics, or things that touch your mouth and lips can also cause a chronic lip or mouth rash.  It takes quite the detective to figure the culprit out sometimes.  Here are more things to look for:

Other Allergens & Irritants That Cause Cheilitis:

  • Latex/rubber (if you are allergic to Balsam of Peru, you are likely allergic to this as well)
  • Cinnamic acid (if you are allergic to Balsam of Peru, you are likely allergic to this as well)
  • Cinnamyl alcohol (if you are allergic to Balsam of Peru, you are likely allergic to this as well)
  • Vanillin (if you are allergic to Balsam of Peru, you are likely allergic to this as well)
  • Citrus fruit peel and essential oils of citrus fruits (limonene) (if you are allergic to Balsam of Peru, you are likely allergic to this as well; don’t peel an orange or lemon with your teeth. Sometimes just the citrus juice will cause a lip reaction)
  • Artificial flavors or dyes in foods
  • Dyes in fabrics
  • Dyes or fragrances in facial tissues, toilet paper, napkins, paper towels
  • Formaldehyde (used in making tissues, toilet paper, napkins, paper towels!)
  • Nail polish/varnish (esp. from nail biting)
  • Nickel (Do not put any paper clips, metal instruments or cheap utensils in your mouth. Do not wear cheap jewelry. Nickel in the metal casing of lip stick can also cause lip rash.)
  • Sorbic acid (food preservative)
  • Musical instruments. They may be made of a metal or exotic wood your skin reacts to or they may have a varnish, resin or wax on them you are allergic to (for example, the sugarbag wax used for didgeridoo mouthpieces is very high in propolis). Cane reeds can also be an allergen.
  • Orthodontic/dental appliances
  • Mangoes (the skin has an oil in it similar to that in poison ivy)
  • Coffee (reported but rare)
  • Carrots (reported but rare)
  • Oral retinoids such as isotretinoin (a.k.a. Accutane/Roaccutane, uses to treat severe acne) and acitretin (a.k.a. Soriatane, used to treat psoriasis)

In addition to avoiding the above known skin allergens and irritants, if you suffer from a chronic lip rash you should also use common sense when it comes to the foods and drinks that come into contact with your lips. Avoid spicy foods and acidic foods, esp. chili peppers (found in Mexican and many ethnic foods), cinnamon, tomato sauces, orange juice, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and any other foods or drink that make your lips sting, burn, swell or itch. Keep a food journal if you need help figuring out what foods and drinks aggravate your lips.

Tips To Help Your Lips Heal Faster:

  • Try your best not to lick your lips – ever.
  • Rinse fruits and veggies thoroughly – they often put wax on them at the grocery store
  • Increase Vit B (esp. riboflavin), iron, and zinc (deficiencies in these nutrients alone may cause cheilitis).
  • Take Omega-3 fatty acid supplement (my favorites are Cod Liver Oil or Tuna Omega-3 capsules from Standard Process (availabel through healthcare practitioners).
  • Apply a beeswax-free lip balm (like Zi Zai Dermatology’s BeeswaxFree Lip Balm or CSFreedom Herbal Lip Balm) to keep lips moist.  Or if your lips are really raw, inflamed and sensitive, try our CSFreedom Herbal Oil (just oil infused with anti-inflammatory herbs, no wax at all, so much more gentle to apply).
  • Get a custom formulation of Chinese Herbal Medicine to take internally (helps reduce inflammation, heal skin, and balance the immune system to reduce over-reaction to allergens).  Find a TCM practitioner near you experienced in treating skin ailments here.
Flaking and peeling of skin around mouth on Day 2 of the rash

Flaking and peeling of skin around mouth can be part of the cheilitis pattern

BE PATIENT.  Lips are sensitive and can take 2 to 4 weeks to completely heal once ALL the triggering factors have been removed from contact with the body.  And they may continue to react very quickly to even the smallest amount of allergen while they are at the height of their sensitivity. So be a good detective and pay attention to all the things that come into contact with your skin that make the lip rash/inflammation worse or cause itching. And be aware that some things might be out of your control if you spend time away from your own home: laundry detergents and fabric softener used in other homes (or hotels!) you stay at or ingredients in foods served at restaurants. There may be multiple allergens or irritants that are contributing to your rash. Keep a journal to make the detective work a bit easier. And consider patch testing from an allergist or dermatologist if all this information still does not lead you to the source of your specific lip rash. Good luck and PLEASE share your story or questions below in the comments section. Your experience may help others suffering from this uncomfortable (and often embarrassing) condition.

For additional information on cheilitis and lip rashes, visit this fabulous resource: www.DermNetNZ.org.

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Tags: allergic reaction, chapped lips, cheilitis, Clown lips, Clown mouth, Cracked lips, Dry lips, exfoliative cheilitis, featured, lip inflammation, lip rash, lip rashes, mouth rash, peeling lips, rash around lips, rash around mouth, redness around lips, redness around mouth, toothpaste allergy

Topics: Allergies, Eczema, Rashes

Publish Date: January 7, 2014     *Articles may include updates since original publishing.

About the Author ()

Diana Hermann is a licensed acupuncturist and board certified in Chinese Herbal Medicine. She received her Master Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, OR and trained in China at the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Diana treats patients in her Fort Collins, Colorado clinic and hand crafts herbal skin care products for her company Zi Zai Dermatology. In 2015, she completed the Diploma In Chinese Medicine Dermatology program from Avicenna in London, UK.

Comments (263)

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  1. Sarah says:

    I am hugely grateful for your blog Diana and want to thank-you so much for solving my chronic issue with my lips. For the past few years, I have had on-off rashes, weeping eczema and swellings on my lips which, of course, I treated with all kinds of lip balms. My doctor did the usual warning about licking my lips too much and prescribed me cortisone creams. I kept food journals, convinced that something I was putting in my body was the culprit. Only after reading your blog posts did I realize that it might be something that I was putting ON my body. Sure enough, one week after going cold turkey off of my Burt’s Bees lip balm, problem solved. It’s been 4 months now and though my lips will always have a tendency to be sensitive and chapped, I have had NO swellings or weeping eczema. THANK-YOU SO MUCH for this valuable information that really isn’t found anywhere else on the internet that I can see. You’re a lifesaver!

    • You are most welcome! thank you for commenting here…it is nice to hear that my sharing of info has helped you 🙂

      • PABLO says:

        The BEESWAX FREE VEGAN HERBAL LIP IS AWESOME I WILL RECOMMEND THIS PRODUCT!!

      • Mary B says:

        Hello,

        So my lip is right this minute BURNING so badly. I just feel like having no lip is better than this feeling every day all day for months!!! Could you please share with me what toothpaste, shampoo, laundry soap, body soap, you can use? I can’t find anything without these allergens in them.

        • Vanessa says:

          Try vaseline.

          • Vaseline (white petroleum jelly) does not really heal anything. I do not recommend it for herpes infection of the lips because it is occlusive – it blocks the skin from taking in oxygen and slows the healing process when used long-term. BUT it does feel soothing to cracked, raw skin and for those open areas it can protect the erosion (the raw lesion) from outside elements and make it feel better until the skin can heal on its own. So it can protect, but it does not heal.

      • Carmen says:

        I am going to school to become a licensed TCM practitioner and have been taking powdered herbs for my eczema. I also get the cheilitis. Unfortunately something in the powdered herbs exacerbates my eczema and cheilitis. It’s not the herbs themselves causing it!! When I decoct raw herbs it does not happen. Please note this when treating patients and try raw herbs if the condition is getting worse after you’ve tried everything. I’m assuming I’m allergic to the binders in the powder :(. I can’t take a lot of vitamins for this reason too. If the vitamins say ‘no binders/fillers’ I don’t have any adverse reactions.

        • Eczema patients tend to be very sensitive and can become sensitized to substances quickly. Which brand of granules do you use? Some concentrated granules use corn starch as a binder, but others use finely powdered herb. Stick with raw decoctions – much more effective for skin issues anyway.

      • Concerned dad says:

        Hi! My son (8) has cold sores that seem to be aggrevated and have some sort of cheilitis. Wondering if you can recommend a derm with similar credentials / outlook as you in Chicagoland area. Thanks!

        • My first recommendation is to try our CSFreedom Herbal Oil (CS = cold sore). It works wonders on cold sores. If that is not enough, contact Mitchell Harris in Chicago.

        • SJ says:

          If it’s simple chopping then try Vaseline and have him try to not lick or touch his lips while they heal. If more serious most dermatologists can help. Otherwise there are only 2 dermatologists who were able to solve my lip rash/ swelling/ blistering situation ( one in NY and one in Chicago)

    • Dominique says:

      I recently got this thing at the side of my lips and it keeps itching and peeling! Doesn’t matter what I do or use it doesn’t go away! The only Chapstick I am in love with using is the burts bees peppermint and it never in years gave me anything ! Now as I read this post I am a little worried , would this be the cause ?

    • Phil says:

      I’m so glad you said that I think that’s the problem with me too 🙂

    • Andrea L. says:

      Sarah, my story could not be more identical to yours. I use cortisone cream almost every day, multiple times a day, to control the itching / burning. I am so hopeful to have the same results as you. My derm. actually recommended Burt’s Bees which is what I have been using the last 3ish years. I just ordered some of the recommended beeswax free chapstick and will give that a try. Thank you for this article!!!

      • Terry says:

        I have never had any lip issues till two weeks ago. I don’t know the cause yet suspect the new machine at orthodontist that they scan your teeth and gums to get a computerized impression of your teeth and gums. Swollen chopping red burning tight skin with the skin area around lips looking raw. I tried turmeric poultice,aloe plant,3 lips balms. Then I began taking benedryl 1 every 6 hours and applying 1% hydrocortisone cream. That was my first relief. Swelling went down redness decreased tightness loosened. Today I am using hydrocortisone on half and Chinese Mopika-s ointment to see if one works better than other. This has been going on for 2 weeks. I watch what I eat to make sure it is not a food reaction.

        • Linda says:

          After a dental appointment one week ago my lips swelled up and are very painful . I am trying different natural remedies with no luck yet.

    • Lewis p says:

      Hello , I’m 16 and for the past three year Ive been getting a reaction on my face , I don’t know if it’s a bacterial infection, rash or what ever it is? But what happenes is that the skin around my mouth drys up and I literally can’t move my mouth because the pain is unreal , this happened to me about 4 weeks ago when I was abroad in Mallorca , days after I came back I was prescribed 1% hydrocortisone steroid cream and the skin just pealed off , but now there’s a section above my top lip which was red and it it like an ache pain that I feel like I need to stretch my lip . I used Sudocrem on it and the redness has gone but the pain is worse , could any one please help I’m really sick to death of this keep appearing!

    • Samantha says:

      I have had an on and off swelling and rash on my lips for the past two months and have seen a number of doctors to figure out what it was. It started when I got red bumps that I thought was cold sores (which I had never hadn’t then before). I bought cold sore cream Zovirax. After this pack finished, the small tiny bumps were still there so I bought a pharmacy brand of cold sore cream. It was still appearing and looked like it was getting worse so I then used a bit of hydrocortisone cream 1% which didn’t really help. I then went to the doctor again as my rash was ALL AROUND MY MOUTH… the top.. colour went down towards my chi making my lips look larger… and on the sides of my mouth had all puss and cracked skin. i went to the doctor and he gave me kenacomb which is a steroid, anti viral cream which helps me tenporary and makes it feel better and go away for a while. (I’ve used this cream once more for my ear piercing infections and it worked wonders, I didn’t react to it). I then got body rashes like small red dots on the side of my hips, between my boobs, red small rashes on my neck and itchy rashes behind both ears that feel flaky… I went to the doctor and got allergy pills and a cold sore 3 tablet one dosage to take just to check if it was any of those. It wasn’t and nothing worked.
      I also got small bumps on my face which are really itchy if I touch around it.. I used to have a smooth face and now it feels like small tiny bumps all over it. I feel like the sun makes my lips feel worse but unsure why as it never used to happen in all my life. I use to use EOS lip balm but after reading everyone’s comments on it, I’m throwing it away!!! I used lip balm in a tin but people are saying not to use that. I’m going back to using just paw paw cream now as well as the kenacomb cream around my lips. I’m also going to see a dermatologist. I hope they can help.

  2. Jennifer Smith says:

    I am so glad I stumbled across this blog as I was searching for treatment for “allergic reaction around mouth” for my 14yo son. Now everything makes sense, he has used EOS this whole winter and it healed when we started to use petroleum jelly. I am not sure if it is beeswax or jojoba oil as his lips cleared when I changed to an organic hemp oil balm and flared up when he lost it and went back to an EOS. They both have beeswax…hmm. For now I am using a tincture of apple cider vinegar then putting on a antihistamine ointment. Then a mix of Renew lotion from Melaleuca with a couple of drops of oregano oil. Also, 10mg Claritan. It is on the mend.

    • April says:

      MANY people have experienced allergic reaction to ESO lip balm. Theres even a lawsuit I believe.

      • Yes, there is a lawsuit against that product.

        • Jessica B. says:

          I have had a rash on my lips for the last 4 months or so and have been using blistex and ESO now that I read this I threw away my ESO.

          • Jessica B. says:

            This rash started when I was going to cosmetology school and they told me I needed to wear lipstick I chose a red lipstick well after that while it started having this rash I stopped using it within the last two or three months and have still had some reaction I haven’t been able to figure out what is causing it but am doing my best to keep my lips from getting worse will be going to my allergist as soon as possible.using coconuts oil on lips for now.

    • cat says:

      EOS has been notorious this past year for reported reactions and I believe there was a class action against it. The same thing happened to me using EOS twice, and my lips have never been the same. My first time, I ended up with impetigo secondary to what happened to my lips!

  3. jurie says:

    Hi. I have been struggling with severe cheilitis for the past 5 months. Hardest 5 months of my life because I experienced extreme pain. I tried everything all lotions you can name. Now I am convinced I picked up an allergy. I am cutting soft drinks to avoid preservatives. I read somewhere sodium benzoate may cause dry lips which is an ingredient to fuzzy drinks. Do you think this might be my problem.? Please help.

    • Karma Fels says:

      Hi, I have the same issue. However don’t drink a lot of soft drink. Did u ever figure out how to fix your lips please?

    • Roxolana says:

      I developed a rash around my mouth after Years Of excema. First Dr. – chelitis. No the prescription did nothing. 2nd Dr. spreading yeast infection from fellatio with a partner who had yeast infection. Men don’t have common symptoms. Ok, stopped kissing and fellatio because the mouth carries more bacteria then Most realize. 3rd Dr. – I was spreading my excema from my hands to my face Every time I rubbed or touched it. Stress makes it worse And Sure you will be stressed with unsightly on your face. THAT was the answer. The minute I put on my excema cream on my mouth itching stopped, skin calmed down 85%. Also allergic to high acidity foods, so eliminated. Watch out Even watermelon and strawberries are acidic. I Never spread or gave my excema to my children, late husband. It transfers on Your body by itching and touching. I wear socks on my hands at night Not to spread or scratch. I hope this helps Someone.
      So easy to say , Don’t be stressed, don’t touch or scratch. Geez I would rub my itchy hands in Hot water…. major made it spread, worse. A lifetime of this, except for when Happy, stress free, and Also This Year One of the Worst Years for allergies Due to rains. Let’s beat it together with knowledge, calm, and the correct cream. Oh I tried that bee propolis ointment, it made it worse, just an FYI.
      All my best my fellow strugglers, we will beat this!

  4. jurie says:

    I used to drink a lot of soft drinks.

    • Allergy to sodium benzoate is possible but without a much more in-depth health history, I cannot say if this is what is causing your cheilitis. But cutting out soda is a smart move for your health (not just your skin), so I support this move. Good luck to you!

    • April says:

      I TOO am having to try cutting out soda now. 🙁 Trying to see if this is the culprit. I will also tell you that the worst chelitis I ever had turned out to be caused by a yeast overgrowth (like thrush basically, on my lips) that took advantage of my wounded lip skin. Nystatin cream cleared it up VERY quickly!! Ask your doc. Cheap and easy. My doc said 99% of chelitis is caused by yeast.

      • I’ll be honest…I clinically sometimes downplay yeast as a possible culprit. So glad you mentioned it here.

        • April says:

          follow up= the nystatin cleared up the thrush/yeast but not the underlying cause of the rash. The yeaste was just an opportunist that set in and was very painful. That is gone, thank god, but I still cannot figure out why I still get the sore, rashy lips 🙁

          • Me says:

            You could have the rash because of the yeast still. It might not be all gone or it could be a std like chlamydia. Chlamydia in the mouth can have the same symptoms as an yeast infection and can be easily misdiagnosed. Make sure to take probiotics so it can level out the amount of good bacteria as well. Change your toothpaste! You might notice a difference. I’ve switched to tom’s and have found a major difference. Also use cocoa butter or nivea it saved my life! Rash is gone. Oh and check your vitamin levels because for some reason a lot of people who have a vit deficiency also have lip rashes.

  5. Vanessa Peters says:

    Sodium Benzoate is part of the benzoate family, which is a major component of Balsam of Peru (it’s composed of vanillins, cinnamic aldehdyes, and benzoates).
    Soft drinks are also full of both vanillins and cinnamic aldehydes found in the flavorings… if you follow the Balsam of Peru restricted diet for 4-6 weeks and then add things back in gradually, it will be easier to pinpoint the specific allergens.

    • Thank you, Vanessa, for your insightful and helpful comment on this! I am going to share this on Facebook, if you don’t mind.

      • Vanessa Peters says:

        Please feel free! It was a such a long struggle for me to figure out what my allergy was and I truly believe a lot of us have become sensitized to BOP without realizing it, because it’s really *everywhere.* It was hard to follow the restricted diet but it was so worth it to have my lips (and hands) return to normal, and after I healed, I have found that I can now eat almost everything again as long as I am careful about intake and don’t make it a habitual thing, i.e. I will eat cinnamon in a dessert occasionally, but I gave up cinnamon chewing gum – the flavorings (cinnamon or otherwise) + the resin in the gum are both cross-reactants to BOP, i.e. if you have become sensitized to BOP, you are likely to be bothered by the others as well. And so many of those things, I don’t miss – I used to chew gum daily, and I haven’t chewed a single piece of gum now in over 4 years. Kind of lovely, actually. 🙂

        • Where’s the “like” button for this? Thank you for sharing!

        • JB says:

          I wrote a comment/question above, but I wanted to reply directly to your comment. I just got patch testing done, and found out I’m allergic to BOP. I’ve been struggling with burning and painful lips for around 8 months now. I’ve thought I’ve figured it out so many times before, and have always been wrong. Hearing others share the same issue is giving me hope to finding out the culprit.

          Drink wise, I pretty much only consume wine, water and sparkling water. I read above that sodium benzoate is in sodas, do you know if it’s in sparkling water? The kind I drink only has two ingredients, carbonated water and natural flavors. I researched what “natural flavors” really means, and it can be between 50-100 ingredients. I’ve tried to research myself to see if BOP is in the drink, but with those two ingredients in the search, no information. I’ve cut the drinks out for a few days now, but no relief yet, and same pain and symptoms, and it still gets worse at night.

          I feel very overwhelmed learning I have this allergy, since it seems to be in SO many things. But I would be happy to give them all up, if I got relief from this :/

          There definitely could be other things in my diet and skin care routine causing it, but I don’t where to begin eliminating.

          Any help would be so grately appreciated

    • JB says:

      I’m having the same issue, for about 8 months now. Terrible pain on lips, with rash and burning. I don’t drink soda, but I do drink sparkling water daily. The two ingredients are carbonated water and natural flavors. I just got patch testing done, and I’m found out I’m highly allergic to Balsam of Peru.

      Do you think these type of drinks could have sodium benzoate in them? I feel so overwhelmed finding this allergy out, it seems to be in SO many things. And trying to find the culprit of the rash has been so frustrating. Every time I’ve thought I’ve figured it out, i’ve been wrong.

  6. hotlips says:

    I’ve thought that I had oral herpes for over a decade, although I’ve always described it as a “weird kind of herpes that didn’t look like regular cold sores”. It had gotten to be so painful that I recently started treating with Valtrex – a serious drug! I finally saw a dermatologist today and instantly she said “that’s not herpes, that’s something else, probably an allergy.” And here is this site – with pictures that look a lot more like what I’ve been getting for years. Amazing! Thank you!

    • Natalie says:

      I was diagnosed with herpes as well as just typical allergies. I was never told and I only discovered this myself, that I was allergic to beeswax, calendula and other ingredients that were in the lip balms that I was using.

    • Nathalie says:

      I can’t see the link to the website you are referring to… I think I may have the same thing. Can you please provide the link?

      Many thanks.

      • sylvie says:

        Nathalie, To my understanding, the site that hotlips is referring to is this one, the very one that you’re on now. She’s thanking zizai for this site.

    • Iris Bonita says:

      Please email me the pics that you mentioned. My Dermo just told me the same thing and I am starting several treatments that are not working.

      I appreciate you help

    • John says:

      BINGO !!
      Identically same story. Spent big bucks on Acyclovir hydrocortisone .
      Same symptoms as herpes…., but not same cause.

  7. rose says:

    I have been wondering what has been going on with my face!! This so far is the most logical answer I have found. Thank you!! I have been fighting this lip cracking in the corners of my mouth for a couple months now and the skin surrounding had become red, and seems to be spreading. There are 2 culprits I suspect. 1 being that when I was sick this winter, I had to use antibiotic ointment on the very inside of my nose due to painful cracks that wouldn’t go away. I suspected a little staph inf maybe. It went away, but my mouth seemed to not heal. I suspect from all the nose blowing..Anyway, my second culprit suspect is my makeup. I am very sensitive to nickel. Had a horrible outbreak years ago because if the metal in the bottom of my compact. My face swelled, cracked and bled 🙁 Was horrible. My doc prescribed a cream for infection, benzemyicin (spelling?). Not really knowing the cause. My face swelled and then peeled, then it was gone. Now I use neutrogena mineral sheers that seems to not irritate as much, but an not convinced it isn’t part of the problem, especially if I find it has nickel in it. Washing after wearing is a must or I end up all broke out:( Who knows, I’m probably allergic to more than I know. It’s always a struggle to keep skin clear. But the lip issue has become a pain, seems to be calming down. But knowing the source would be helpful, this article helped a lot. Thank you so much!!

  8. garry says:

    Great article as always, and really informative at that. There are many different kinds of lip rashes/sores out there, many of which can be quite hard to diagnose for most, but a professional can easily figure out the problems.

    Again, great article as always, keep up the great postings.

  9. Sarah says:

    Thanx for this article! I’ve been dealing with this on and off for years. If beeswax and all kinds of oils (olive, coconut, etc.) could be the cause, what do I put on my lips to relieve the itch and dryness while I heal? I hate the swelling and redness it causes and don’t want to go out in public because of it!

    • Propolis (in beeswax) and lanolin are common allergens (found in lots of lip products). Olive oil and coconut oil are not common allergens but I mention them here for those poor folk who have tried EVERYTHING and still can’t figure out what might be causing their lip rash. In your case, I would try our BeeswaxFree lip balm (*cough* – direct product plug!) but if you want to try a home remedy coconut oil or sesame seed oil or extra virgin olive oil is ok to try. Realize it may take several days for the inflammatory process to calm down.

  10. Thank you so much for this article!!! I’ve been suffering from this for nearly 20 years. It started suddenly one day after school and I get breakouts whenever I go out in the sun for more than half an hour (the sun is my trigger – so really can’t enjoy summer vacations). And once it starts, I usually stay in my house for the next 2-3 weeks till it has healed. It’s embarrassing and I often find myself going into some form of depression. Even though I have learned to just live with it, it does hinder ones life. I remember one really bad experience when we were on vacation in Paris, and I couldn’t enjoy it because I was in such pain. I had to literally drink all my meals through a straw. I now know how to handle it when it starts so that the outbreak is not too bad. And your article is just perfect because I have seen three Dermatologists and an Immunologist and after hundreds of tests (including blood tests), none of them gave me any real diagnoses but they all came to the same conclusion that the sun and UV-rays is my trigger and I should try and manage that during the summer months. So thank you for this post. It was very informative!

    • Sun sensitivity such as yours can be successfully treated with Chinese herbs and nutritional supplements in many cases. Contact me at herbalist@zizaidermatology.com if you would like more info on where you can get such help.

      • Pamela Mahoney says:

        I too am experiencing episodes of lip blisters; burning, swelling then scabbing conditions following “Sun Exposure”. So crucial now that this year I have elected to forego our annual vacation to avoid another flare up. I cam across your blog researching help after my last flare lead to Irritant Dermatitis! I am going to start a journal hoping to i.d. specific triggers and would like more info on recommended herbal supplements and vitamins for help.
        Also if you could refer me to an allergist or anyone who might possibly add more help, it would be greatly appreciated!!!!!

        Thank you so much. 😉

      • Jean McKenzie says:

        I would love to know what you recommend when the sun, or possibly heat from the sun, is the trigger! Please!

    • Julie Benson says:

      I have the exact same thing. It ‘may’ be SCLE or subcutaneous lupus which causes mainly sun/skin issues and emotional or psychological. I have associated hair loss, have not been in the sun in ten years (except car or when I have to walk into a store.)I’m 66 now and the skin issues started when I was in my late 30’s or early 40’s. My issues with SCLE have only continued to ravage and ruin my life.Often I have to wear a surgical mask due to hideous facial issues. I wouldn’t go out without it due to stares from the public.I also have Sjogren’s Syndrome which causes very many of the same problems.
      Please contact me if you have any questions. Being a nurse for 30 years has helped incite my curiosity to all things medical so I’ve done a great deal of my own research. Most docs say “I don’t know what you have so deal with it!”If they are docs aren’t they supposed to be at least searching out answers to give their patients when asked. They are “PRACTICING” medicine which goes along with continous learning and investigation…right? Easy money when they have anawers like that.
      Anyway, I’m here and maybe….I can help. Hasn’t done me any good, so you just helped me! Thank you.

    • LeLe says:

      I’ve read so many articles and reviews on the internet BUT this is the most informative one so far! Ever since I was in high school, if I go outdoors and am in direct sunlight for more than 15-30mins, the next morning I would get this “outbreak” which was diagnosed as coldsores triggered by the sun. My lips will tingle, burning sensation, and with severe itching (like coldsores) but it would affect the borders of both of my lips (so essentially every part of my lips). I treated this with Valtrex 2 grams twice daily for 1 day. Because the sun was the triggering factor, I’ve been using lip sunscreen with SPF 60 for 15 years (LaRoche Posay and Vichy Brands) and I felt that it was effective enough to prevent these coldsore outbreaks. The longest I’ve gone without an outbreak was 4 years and I was using this lip sunscreen every single day; applied a few times a day. For over 1 year now, I’ve been getting these cold sore outbreaks again so I was treating them with Valtrex again. But I kept getting outbreaks over and over again; 2-3 outbreaks a month and was feeling very depressed and hopeless. In addition to these outbreaks I have developed some from of exfoliative cheilitis – the skin on my lips kept going through a peeling cycle every 3-4 days. I’ve been to 3 dermatologists, an infectious disease doctor, and an immunologist. I’ve been prescribed oral Keflex (antibiotic), fluconazole (antifungal), Desocort (steriod ointment), Protopic 0.1% ointment but my lips are still peeling now for almost a year. I’ve even gotten a biopsy done on my lips and results came back as a dermatitis and eosinophil involvement (doc said could have an allergy component associated with the dermatitis). For the last few months, when I thought I had a coldsore outbreak instead of treating it with Valtrex, I decided to treat it with Betametasone 0.1% cream to see if its a “dermatitis outbreak” instead. Within an hour the spot on my lip that was red and burning dissappeared – therefore it wasn’t a coldsore outbreak! I know that I’ve had coldsores in the past but now I also have lip dermatitis with exfoliative cheilitis. I’m completely overwhelmed because this condition is very uncomfortable/painful/embarrassing and makes me every depressed. I still avoid the sun and is indoors most of the time which is even more depressing. I have a 18 month old so I have to try to stay positive and happy for both my baby and husband. The peeling has gotten a little better. The peeling is mostly on the inner parts of both top and bottom lips. I wonder if the condition was from yearsssss of using lip sunscreen SPF 60 (Laroche Posay and Vichy brands) or lipstick since I do not lick my lips. I was thinking of seeing a naturapathic doctor or chinese medicine doctor. What should I do/try? Any advice would be appreciated!

      • This could be photocontactdermatitis due to the sunscreen (this is a real thing). According to the textbook Fisher’s Contact Dermatitis (the leading text on such diseases), chemical sunscreens can react with UV light and actually cause an allergic reaction in some people. Try switching to a zinc-based (mineral) sunblock for your lips. Artificial fragrances can also cause allergic contact dermatitis when combined with UV (sun) exposure. If you still react after avoiding chemical sunscreens and fragrances in lip balms, makeup, moisturizers, and sunscreens, then consider seeing a Chinese Medicine practitioner to help balance your body and reduce your response to allergens in general. Good luck. I hope we have discovered the problem. Write back and update us, please.

        • LeLe says:

          I really appreciate your quick response.
          I’ve stopped putting lip sunscreen on my lips for over 6 months now but they are still peeling. Even without the sunscreen, every 1-2 weeks, the borders of my lips flare up and become red and are itchy. In the past I would have treated it like a coldsore and taken Valtrex and Lysine, but now I put steroid cream on it and it works to bring down the redness and itch. My main problem is the peeling of the lips and I’m desperate to understand what is causing the continuous peeling. I am getting a patch test on my back done in a week to see if it’s something I’m allergic to. And if I am allergic to something, why isn’t it manifested anywhere else on my body? If I’m unable to get answers from this patch test, I will try alternative medicine. I think I will bring my sunscreens to be tested for the patch test as well. I’ll keep you updated.

          • I am opposed to the use of cortisone cream on the lips and around the mouth. It can thin the skin (permanently)…this cannot be fixed. Your lips may be suffering exfoliative cheilitis or this may be a reaction to the cortisone cream.

  11. LawrenceGirl says:

    I am obsessed with C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve that comes in a cute tin. About a week ago I was getting awful blisters on my lips and they were super sore. Come to remember that I have a nickel allergy. The tin that contains this salve is more than likely made with nickel and when I stopped applying it to my lips I stopped having blisters and all other symptoms. To all with nickel allergies: avoid any lip balm that comes in a tin!!!!
    Thanks for this post! Glad to know that I’m not crazy in believing that it was an allergic reaction.

  12. Sarah says:

    OMG!I have been dealing with huge swollen lips every morning and severe cracking and burning in the afternoon for over a MONTH now! I make my own lip balm with beeswax, coconut oil and vitamin e for 3 years now. Never had a problem. What I was making was all natural so I didnt think the lip balm was what was causing it! Day one of no lip balm. My lips are very bad today. so cracked and burning. Just putting jojoba oil on them. I am so glad I found ur blog. Thank u so much! U are a lifesaver. If I could smile I would be. =)

    • Kristen says:

      This is me. All of it. So frustrated, but thankful for this blog!! I stopped using everything except coconut oil 3 days ago. Any testimonies of how long I should expect to wait for improvement?

  13. Kim says:

    Help! I have what has been diagnosed as eczema or atopic dermatitis on my face for two years now. It started as a patch on my chin then starting spreading after a couple of months. It is now on my cheek, forehead, all around my lips, and sometimes my eyelids. It is chronic and never goes completely away. I have to use hydrocortisone to get it to calm down but I use it as sparingly and as little as possible. Right now the skin surrounding my lips it the worst. Red, itchy, with small bumps all around the perimeter. I have tried everything to figure out what I am allergic to. I’ve done food allergy testing, environmental allergy testing, I’ve changed toothpaste, quit wearing makeup, switched cleansers – everything I can think of and nothing helps! I don’t know what else to do. I’m using Blistex Lip Medex right now as it is the only thing that seems to give my lips relief but I have to apply it at least every 30 minutes. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • I would try discontinuing the Lip Medex as this product contains many possible allergens and irritants (including lanolin, flavoring, camphor, menthol, castor seed oil). Apply just plain Vasoline (white petroleum jelly) – NOT their lip product, but the stuff you scoop out of a jar with no other ingredients in it but the petroleum jelly.

    • Nancy Waller says:

      I had the same problem with my lips for about two years. Small weeping bumps looking very much like eczema which I had when I was a child. I went to an allergist and was tested for chemical allergies. I found out I am allergic to all acrylates. Look closely at all of the ingredients in all of your face creams ,make up,hairsprays ,deodorants , and conditioners. If they contain any acrylate try to stay away and see if this is your culprit to it is a new life when you don’t have to worry about covering everything with make up ! Good luck!

    • Katie says:

      Have you heard of perioral dermatitis? I was diagnosed wit this a year ago. That sounds like what you have! There is a private Facebook group for people diagnosed with this condition that can offer suggestions for what cured theirs. Everyone is different though since derms don’t really know what causes it! Could be anything from allergy, to yeast overgrowth, to gut imbalance, to hormones. Number one piece of advise – don’t use steroids.

  14. Kim says:

    I just started using the lip Medex because nothing else was helping. I used only Vaseline for months and I never completely heal (including the itchy patches on my face). It looks like an allergic reaction to something but I can’t seem to figure out what. Do you think your eczema cream would help keep it under control on my face and maybe the beeswax free Chapstick? My face and lips both flare constantly and I’ve run out of ideas to heal them.

    • If you suspect possible allergy to propolis then I would recommend our BeeswaxFree Lip balm for your lips and our LittleRedRash Ointment for the other areas on your face. Our LittleRedRash Ointment does not contain beeswax. And Vaseline won’t heal anything by itself, but I have never found any evidence of anyone reacting negatively to it so it can help soften skin and protect it from drying out further. I’m sorry the simple things haven’t worked for you thus far. Perhaps you can seek out the help of a skilled Chinese herbalist near you. Check out our referral list here:
      http://www.zizaidermatology.com/find-tcm-specialist/

      • Vanessa says:

        Vaseline works for HSV infections on the lips.

        • Vaseline (white petroleum jelly) does not really heal anything. I do not recommend it for herpes infection of the lips because it is occlusive – it blocks the skin from taking in oxygen and slows the healing process when used long-term. BUT it does feel soothing to cracked, raw skin and for those open areas it can protect the erosion (the raw lesion) from outside elements and make it feel better until the skin can heal on its own. So it can protect, but it does not heal.

  15. Do smoker prone in having angular cheilitis? because I’m a smoker

  16. Anandh says:

    is there any relation with consuming Almonds nuts with lip rashes? little rahs in the corner of the lips, and its not painful.

    • Possible, especially if you have any degree of allergy to tree nuts.

    • Katie says:

      I was eating almonds daily for four months. I had cold sores for four months. I came across an article stating they could cause outbreaks of cold sores. I stopped consuming them & ramped up my vitamin B ( Garden of Life) and they stopped. Now- I’ve started getting them again in full force & I am connecting it to my coconut oil intake/exposure.

  17. Anne says:

    This blog really helped me. I read it a week ago and realized I may have an allergy to my lip balm for sensitive lips. I had very chapped, raw, oozing swollen lips and a red rash around my mouth. My mom is a general practice doctor and helped some, but it eventually got severe enough that it got out of her scope.

    I went to a dermatologist who sent me to an allergist. We thought it could be my toms of Maine toothpaste. But we tested all of my face products and it turns out that my lip balm (Mongo Kiss Unflavored) have me a huge welt on my patch test. It seems silly that I didn’t think of it, but my lips were so chapped that it felt like they had no skin on them–so I put more lip balm on, thinking that the pain was the lip balm wearing off and not the lip balm itself.

    I was tested separately for cocoa butter and beeswax, which led to no reaction. She believes either the mongongo oil or the topical vitamin E are what caused the allergic reaction. And I thought I was doing so well picking an organic all natural lip balm.

    I just wanted to share my story in the hopes that it could help someone else. If you have the resources, I highly recommend seeing a dermatologist or allergist! I suffered with this for several months before finally seeking help from a specialist. Now my lips are back to normal and I feel like I have my life back again!

  18. Emilie says:

    Thanks for this post. It has inspired me to figure what is causing my cheilitis. I have a question. Regarding “Lips are sensitive and can take 2 to 4 weeks to completely heal once ALL the triggering factors have been removed from contact with the body. And they may continue to react very quickly to even the smallest amount of allergen while they are at the height of their sensitivity.”. Does that mean it is hard to tell what is causing the cheilitis because it takes so long for the area to heal or just that once you are on the mend it can take a while? I am wondering because when I wake up in the morning my lips are better but after I eat the scaling is worse and the skin is sore. Does this mean that something I am eating or something in my morning routine is triggering the cheilitis so I can just look there? Or, could it be something I ate or was exposed to days before is triggering the outbreak in the morning?

    My second question is about oils/makeup. When I cover the outbreak with oil or makeup (mineral fusion) it seems to make things worse even though it looks better aesthetically. Today, I am foregoing anything on my face but it looks scaly and yucky. I looked at your beeswax free products but I am concerned about the olive oil which you said could be an allergen. Thanks for any help with this!

    • Let’s start with the easier answers first. Yes, olive oil is a POSSIBLE allergen, but highly unlikely – though there are documented cases of it causing allergic skin reactions in some people, it would NOT be the first substance I would suspect. Of course covering the inflamed skin with makeup will make it appear less angry, but this is probably aggravating it. If you can be brave and face the world as your natural self for a week, it would give this skin a better chance of healing. I do not know what ingredients are in the product you are using, so I cannot evaluate if anything there is the cause directly or if it just irritating already-inflamed skin. If your lips or the skin around your mouth are tight, dry and irritated to any degree, eating will inherently aggravate the skin simply because you are stretching it and food/utensils will mechanically irritate it. This is not proof that something you are consuming is the allergen. BUT it could be. Or if you eat with cheap utensils, it is possible they contain nickel which is a known allergen. This is not likely, but it is something to think about.

      The tougher question to answer: “Does that mean it is hard to tell what is causing the cheilitis because it takes so long for the area to heal or just that once you are on the mend it can take a while?” Yes and yes. When your lips are constantly/frequently exposed to an allergen (let’s say propolis in beeswax as an example bc that is what I am clearly allergic to), then you can react not only to the propolis directly as an allergen, but anything can make the lips aggravated, such as friction or irritants or other things that typically would not bother healthy skin. This is because the allergy causes inflammation and the inflammation makes the skin a less effective barrier against the outside world, so anything could potentially irritate it at that point. It makes it a challenge to determine the true allergen that caused the initial reaction. But let’s say you suspect propolis is the allergen and you so you stop using lip balm with beeswax or carnauba wax in it (people allergic to propolis often will also react to carnauba wax). Your sensitive lips will start to heal but at first they will be dry, tight and flaky (unless you apply one of Zi Zai’s beeswax-free lip balms to soothe them during this time…a shameless plug for my favorite products, forgive me!). So if they are already dry, tight and flaky, anything can aggravate them, even your own saliva or talking a lot or opening your mouth wide to put food in it. But as the skin heals and becomes more supple and less inflamed, it can tolerate more without getting aggravated. It has been a while, but I think it took a good 2 weeks for my lips to calm down fully after I stopped using beeswax products. So I could brush my teeth without them getting red or hurting. But I cannot ever apply beeswax product to them again. At the height of the worst cheilitis, applying beeswax would make them angry within minutes. Now, if they are accidentally exposed to beeswax (like a new lipstick I try or something stupid like that), it takes them hours or even a few days of repetitive exposure to the beeswax before they become inflamed/itchy/painful. But they now also heal within a few hours instead of a couple weeks.

      Does that help?

      • Emilie says:

        Yes. It has all helped a LOT. Thank-you for your blog and website and personal attention! I am very grateful!

        I did figure out what has been causing the Cheilitis and I can hardly believe it! It’s been the squash, zucchini and/or yellow. I’ve been cooking and eating them together so I’m not sure if one of them is actually okay or not. When I got down to just eating grass-fed, organic beef and the squash I broke out again after breakfast. I’d been thinking hard about what was newish to my diet and it was certainly the squash, which I had just been getting into since summer and it being so available and delicious. So, at dinner no squash and no renewed break out. Here I am two days later and on the mend. I can hardly believe that something so seemingly innocuous and actually healthy could create such a problem for me! They are not even nightshades! What a mind blower and wake up call, lol!

        I hope my story can help someone else.

        Thanks so much Diana!

  19. Lucia says:

    Hi, I really need your help please, because every time I kiss I get a rash….the same rash that is on the last picture. It is so awful, and I am so embarrassed by it. Do you know why this is? Could I be allergic to the saliva or the guys lip balm? If you have any advice I would appreciate it so much. Thank you.

    Also, once I get the rash it takes days to recover and I only use natural ones/natural moisturizers/cleansers….

    • Yes, you absolutely can be allergic to something in your partner’s lip balm. It is also possible to be allergic to his saliva, but the lip balm is much more likely. Or if you are kissing him elsewhere, you have to consider all the possible body/skincare products your lips may be coming into contact with. A good starting point to remedy this is to buy him lip balm that you do not react to. So if you have one you already like, fabulous! By him a couple tubes and ask him to be loyal to using only that on his lips. If you don’t have a lip balm that you like, Zi Zai makes great beeswax-free lip balms for you to try 😉

      • Lucia says:

        I will most definitely try Zi Zai’s lip balm! Thank you for taking the time to respond. But what do I do about being allergic to their saliva?

        • I have no answer for that, so sorry! Let’s hope that is not the case for you. Does your fella have facial hair? A beard or mustache can cause a good amount of irritation from friction, even if it doesn’t feel so bad in the moment.

          • Lucia says:

            Thank you for your help! You are so kind to be providing us with all this information.

          • Thank you for reading my blog – it is nice to know my efforts to share my knowledge are appreciated. It’s a relief to know I’m not stuffing my brain full of information for nothing 😉

  20. Miranda says:

    Hi, I am desperately need your help please. My lip was hit by a trauma by a falling bar at the car park, caused a clear cut at my middle upper lip, both upper and lower lips were swollen three times as before. I applied Lucas Paw Paw Ointment in the 1st week for helping the wound the heal. Started from the 2nd week, I used SolcoseryI Dental Adhesive Paste offered by a GP Doctor. It helps my lips shrinked back to normal size.

    However,I used mouthwash once and my lips and gum all become swollen with burning feeling, I presume that’s the alcohol and mints touching the wound causes the bad reaction . After one week, I put propolis on my lips because I searched online saying that its vitamins will help skins grow better, after one night, my lips (especially upper lip)starts burning like fever, swollen, peeling off skins especially after brushing teeth in the morning. It lasts for four days until I use Vaseline, I could not touch my lips when eating and it gets worse when I speak during work. It is really horrible!

    I went to many GP and Derma Specialists, they offered me anti-biotics, steriod ointment for the peeling area and steriod pills to be take plus anti-fungal suspension for raising my lips but it doesnt improve much as there are two different colour on my upper lip. I then start taking Vit B complex, it seems stop peeling since then.

    Bad thing happen since two weeks ago, I stop Vit B complex as instructed by the Derma specialist. My lower lips becomes irriated, rash, swollen when I was under heat outside for just half an hour even have had my face mask on with UV protection umbrella. After one and off rash, the lower lip started having a red area expanding and peeling happened since two days ago. I wonder what I could do as even the upper lip area with skin peeled off before, it still looks red, I do not know if the skin is too thin or it is a kind of bacteria infection.

    If I do not use vaseline, the whole lip especially the red area is very tight, burning hot and painful. I was suggested by the Specialist for a week of rest and keep myself staying at home under Air con, but the same symptom started spreading to my lower lip. Pls help! Thanks very much!

    • Yikes – rough time for your poor lips. I cannot examine you from across the pond, but I wonder, if you had such a bad reaction to the propolis, might there also be propolis in your toothpaste?

  21. Jenny Smith says:

    Hello,
    I really really hope you could give me some advice as I’m at my wits end. After 7 years of suffering with this problem I don’t know what else to do. For the last 7 years I have experienced burning, itching, splitting, peeling lips – it’s not usually my actual lips but all around the lip line. The burning and red rash is above my top lip. I am in pain everyday. I have seen a dermatologist countless times who just prescribe steroid cream, all of which doesn’t make a difference. They now say my only option is to take an immuno suppressant called methotrexate!

    I take anti histamine every day, no difference. The only thing that stops it all is oral steroid (prednisolone), but of course I can’t take that long term. I have recently been to an immunologist for skin prick tests, but as I already knew it’s just animal fur, dust mites and pollens I’m allergic to. I have had 2 patch tests and I’m allergic to parfum, and haven’t used toiletries with parfum in it for 6 years.

    I’m at my wits end now and it’s upsetting me everyday and really affecting my daily life. I go back to work tomorrow after 7 months off (had a baby) and I’m dreading it, it’s so embarrassing.

    I use a lip balm called dr bonners organic (avocado oil, jojoba oil, organic beeswax), I’ve only been using that for the past 2 years though. Dr gave me hydromol for my face as a moisturiser (yellow soft parrafin and emulsifying wax).

    Yesterday I started using certified rosehip oil on my face and a coconut oil lip balm (also with shea butter and vitamin e. Above my lip was totally dried out and flaky this morning), even though yesterday the burning had settled right down.
    I have also paid to see a nutritionist who said I should go grain free, dairy free, gluten free and follow a 20 day anti candidia detox diet and spend a fortune on vitamins.
    Help please! Xx

    • First, consider following the advice of others who have left comments here about what they were reacting to (propolis in beeswax is a common allergen among sufferers of cheiltis, so discontinue any products that list beeswax on the label). Secondly, when the skin remains inflamed or continues to become inflamed regardless of what substances come into contact with the skin, it is time for internal intervention. Seek out herbal treatment from a licensed and skilled TCM practitioner. This will help get your immune system and skin into a healthier state of being. It may take a few months to get things sorted out, but what is a few months if you have already suffered for years with this? See my referral list here, or contact the Avicenna clinic for additional referrals in the UK, Asia and Europe.

      • Claire Poole says:

        Did you find anything that helped. Had this problem now for 2 years skin around mouth so dry, red, sore and itchy, due to have patch test next week

    • S says:

      Hi, have you found a treatment or cure for your rash? I’m going through the exact same thing right now 🙁

  22. This is really helpful! I am troubled with an upper lip skin rash. It’s dry, blackish in colour, with a feeling of tightness. There’s no itching or inflammation (no redness or swelling). This happens from time to time mainly in air conditioning and during summers.

    I thought it was a lack of hydration, so use I aloe vera and Vitamin E, but nothing seems to work completely. It just eases, but doesn’t stop. What is the reason for this?

  23. emma says:

    Anyone allergic to toothpaste? I think I’m allergic to it now and my mouth HURTS. What can I use to clean my mouth instead? Your help will be greatly appreciated.

  24. jane says:

    I’m really interested to read your article. I have been suffering with cheilitis for about 6 months now, around the rim of my lips. Doctors said eczema for months and suggested Vaseline. It presents as redness and tiny little blisters. For the last 2 months these red patches have periodically become badly infected with what looks like impetigo. I am now on my third different antibiotic to try and stop the infection recurring. Twice already the infection has come on while taking preventative antibiotics. Doctors are now suggesting allergies, and I am cutting out all fruit (many fruits give me a very sore itchy mouth) but I am also wondering about nickel as I have to avoid all metallic belts etc.

    But my main question is about the link between the cheilitis and the impetigo. Is it likely that I have two separate conditions here and that I was just unlucky to get impetigo in the broken skin of the cheilitis? And if so will I be prone to getting impetigo until I have worked out the cause of the cheilitis?

    • liv says:

      My daughter has this for 3 months plus. She got into collecting those EOS lip balms and I think that ‘s what keeps irritaing her upper lip. Will Arnica Salve pomade work? She doesn’t want to go to school cause the kids are teasing her> Im sad for her.

  25. samantha talley says:

    Thanks for the post. My 3 year old started having just a small red rash around his mouth every time he would eat carrots. Honestly I felt stupid trying to explain this to drs cause I guess its not a common thing.

  26. Jessica says:

    Wow, I cannot believe other people have suffered so long with a lip rash & it scares me even more that I may never know the cause. I get a red rash above & below my lips, as well as the corners when I come into contact with something I am allergic too (dust, pollen, peanuts, soy, animals, ect.) But it flares up when I eat fruits, veggies. It seems like now no matter what I eat my lips start to get inflamed and I just can’ figure out what it is! Advice please

  27. Wendy says:

    I have been dealing with this for a year now & all the dermatologist test did not show a specific cause, but they did confirm it’s an allergy. My skin didn’t react to what it was supposed to at the Allergist so I can’t do that. I feel hopeful that this site seems to describe what is going on with my very painful lips. The list is so overwhelming to me of what it could be – what approach do you suggest to narrow down my allergy? Thank you.

  28. Justin says:

    I have been dealing with this for years now. Comes and goes but when it’s here it can last for weeks, then be gone for up to two monthes, it is the worst having your face look like this and having to explain to every nosy person what it is, most of the time I just say I had an allergic reaction to an old food allergy, I just want this to be gone forever, I hate planning my free time around this and avoid functions as best I can. I always wondered if it had something to do with my off and on eczema I’ve had since I was 4. I look forward to the times when my skin looks perfect for a short time then dread the bad times. Went to my pcp about this a few years ago and three doctors looked at me baffled just like any other stranger does, no one wants to have their face look like this and I’m glad I’m not the only one, good old google can always find my fellow problem groups

    • Justin, I hope the info here will help you figure out the source of your rash. Unfortunately, atopics (people who suffer from atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema) have a tendency to be more sensitive overall and can have allergic reactions to many substances. Good luck to you! And if you discover what the trigger for your skin rash is, please do write again and share with us.

  29. Karin says:

    I have a very simple diet; no cosmetics; lifelong user of plain unflavored Original Chapstick. But what could cause the recent and recurrent inflammation above my lip, tightness on the lip itself, and corners that would crack if opened too wide? Upon reading your blog I googled further: plain Chapstick contains White petrolatum 44%; Padimate O 1.5%; also ‘Inactive ingredients’: arachidyl propionate, camphor, carnauba wax, cetyl alcohol, D&C red no. 6 barium lake, FD&C yellow no. 5 aluminum lake, fragrance, isopropyl lanolate, isopropyl myristate, lanolin, light mineral oil, methylparaben, octyldodecanol, oleyl alcohol, paraffin, phenyl trimethicone, propylparaben, titanium dioxide, white wax. THEN IT SAYS ‘WARNING’: Stop use and ask a doctor if rash or irritation develops and lasts.

  30. Tim says:

    I want to express my cure or should I say the fastest way possible to heal. I have told many many others with a 100% success….Here Goes

    LEAVE IT ALONE. NO MATTER WHAT, DONT LICK IT, DONT PUT NOTHING ON IT NO WORRIES WHEN YOU SLEEP YOU WONT MESS WITH IT.

    2 days max it will be in the drying stage, now use regular chapstick to keep from cracking open. yeah it still shows through for a few days but it will not be that festering bumpy 2 week or more scar type mess. good luck friends

    • As far as healing the irritated lips…I agree that leaving it alone (as hard as that may seem at first) will allow it to heal. I do not agree with applying regular Chapstick afterwards, though. If an ingredient in the “regular Chapstick” (Chapstick is a brand) caused the initial reaction, it will do it again. You absolutely must avoid the substance your skin is allergic to.

  31. Lauren says:

    So so so (x’s a million) happy I stumbled across this article!! I’ve been dealing with this issue since I was about 14-15 years old and I just turned 26.
    I was told by a dermatologist that it was an allergy but to what? He had no idea… Seasonal changes (pollen), laundry detergents, any combination of scented lotions/ perfumes/ shampoo & conditioner (chemical overload), even being near men wearing aftershave or cologne would trigger it, but I’ve never known what it is or how to head it off once it starts.
    I got the whole itchy, burning weeping swollen lip reaction with bags under my swollen eyes which would get glassy looking. Even mental cloudiness for the day and just feeling out of it.
    I’ll usually take an allergy pill like Claritin (sp?) or Allegra – they rarely work, probably because they’re just antihistamines, but they do lessen the reaction a bit. I’ll definitely be trying your suggested herbal remedies. I hope they get me through these dry winter months!!

    Thank you for the super enlightening post!

  32. Keela says:

    Thanks for the article! I am going to my Derm tomorrow and I’m sure I have cheilitis or whatever the word is. however, I’m an avid lipstick wearer so what the heck am I supposed to do?? Try and find and all natural cosmetic brand?? I don’t want it to flare up again … HELP!!

    • michele says:

      The only lip balm I have been able to tolerate is Aquaphor (The baby kind. I did not try the lip formula). After surfing the web for ways to color it I saw a recommendation to tint it with an all natural vegetable dye from Whole foods. I picked some up in the baking section and it looks pretty good.

  33. Mpho Ntlatleng says:

    I am soooo glad for the information I will start taking proper treatment.

  34. lucy says:

    I have this colour on the skin around my mouth, you know the corners of the mouth close to the cheek bone. It looks delicate and always looks like I’m bleaching,and sometimes it has this funny whitish tiny peeling around the sides of my mouth. Please is this a fungi infection? What should I do?

  35. Richard DeMaso says:

    Well,i am screwed then…lol. I have been diagnosed with exzema,seborric dermatitis,psoriasis and now hypothyroidism…this rash is very aggrivating. I have been battling with it everyday it seems like for the past 3 years and on and off for 12 years. Heck i thought it was chapped lips.

  36. debbie says:

    I have had an irritating upper lip now for 5 years, definitely food allergy but still don’t know “what”. After I eat the following foods, I will feel compelled to touch, peel & scratch off the skin; a compulsion sort of like poison ivy or a mosquito bite, not quite as intense. I have observed these foods but don’t know the common thread: vinegar, cocoa, all salad dressings, most cheeses, most yogurts, many nutrition bars except one, many whey protein powders except one, most wines, sucralose, foods with enzymes listed like peptides or called hydrolyzed something…I seem to do ok with eggs, vegetables, meat poultry fish, flax seed powder, most nuts if plain. Any ideas what it could be, and do you think it could be CORN?

    • Laura says:

      I have been looking into a possible sulfite sensitivity as a cause for my cheilitis. I believe some of the foods you listed contain sulfites. I’m waiting to hear back from my allergist to see if it’s something he can test for.

    • Winter Wizzard says:

      debbie, A lot of those items seem fermented. Yes cocoa is fermented along with vinegar and cheese. I do not know that means to stay away from those products as you might do fine with items that use wild fermentation instead of commercial such as old fashioned alive sauerkraut of just cabbage and salt.

  37. Marin says:

    I found the culprit for me is titanium dioxide. In toothpastes it strips my tongue and makes it sore, in lipbalms/lipgloss/lipsticks it causes me similar lesions as shown in the pictures, in skin care or sun care it makes my skin break out! So annoying it’s nearly found in EVERYTHING, so it’s hard to avoid completely.

    Foods that has been causing me skin inflamed skin issues tend to be: dairy, tomatoes and gluten.

    Hopes it helps anyone!

    • Bummer! Titanium dioxide is not that common of an allergen. I suppose for sun block you should be sure to use just zinc oxide products. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m sure your comment will help many people Who visit this blog seeking answers to their skin allergies.

  38. Anne says:

    I thought I was crazy until I read that so many are suffering with this. I am depressed and hardly go out because it is uncomfortable to eat or drink, not to mention I look like I have clown lips. This began a year ago and I find it soooo painful. Been to Dermatologist, tried steroid ointments, nothing works. Certain foods make it worse but I need to find source,
    My question may seem odd but is it possible I am allergic to my dog? I have no other allergy symptoms but it seems this started when I adopted him. I know this sounds crazy but I am desperate for an answer. A solution would be great but I need a cause first!

    • Laura says:

      I believe mine is related to my dog, perhaps among other things. Unfortunately I rarely pet her anymore, for fear of a flare up. When I do, I immediately wash my hands. My dermatologist has prescribed Elidel cream, which is the only thing that works for me. It takes about 2 days, but then clears up. It stays cleared up (for the most part) if I use it twice a day. But it always flares right up a couple days after stopping it again.

  39. Claudia says:

    Hello all!
    Very happy to come across this amazing, informative site/forum! Thanks all for the information posted.

    Just would like to contribute with some personal experience with my daughter.
    My 16 yo daughter had a terrible break out around her mouth last May and took us some difficult time to learn how to deal with such a problem, which we learned it is known as ‘clown mouth’.

    She started with itching, redness, blister, followed by a terrible swelling, dryness and flaking on her lips and around her mouth last May. It was devastating to see her suffering: she could only take soup and drink water with straw. After searching the internet, we learned that the gluten and/or cinnamon could be the cause. She went in a gluten-free diet and no cinnamon at all, but no improvement was observed; on the contrary, the symptoms were getting worse daily. Three dermatologists here in the USA made wrong diagnostics and the symptoms got even worse with their prescribed medications.

    Thanks to a 80 yo family doctor from Brazil, we learned that her symptoms were probably triggered by the fluoride found in the toothpaste and in any other product/meal she was eating/drinking, and especially the drinking water, which all contain fluoride. Also, she was drinking bottled iced tea almost every day last May. It is known from the literature that tea leaves hold high content of fluoride as older they get. So those who suffer Cheilits, be careful about drinking caffeinated tea. Some tea plants also may hold heavy metals depending on where they are cultivated overseas.

    My daughter is now being able to control any break out by brushing her teeth with fluoride-free toothpaste (brand Tom’s from Maine) and rinsing her mouth after with Smart Water (vapor distilled water/ Costco sells this brand), and this is the only water she drinks; she does not drink any soda; when eating out: she avoids eating any meal that is cooked with tap water such as soup, sauce, pasta, rice, beans. At home we cook with Deer Park spring water because it has very low content of fluoride when compared to other bottled spring water brand and it is easy to find this spring water in any supermarket. Tap water can have up to 4.0 mg fluoride/L water (4.0 ppm of fluoride/ EPA’s enforceable standard) and Deer Park Spring Water has 0.8 mg/L of fluoride. As for lip gloss, we bought in Brazil a medicinal one, which just finished recently.

    So, even being very cautions daily with the food preparation, fluoride-free toothpaste and drinking water with low content of fluoride, my daughter still gets light symptoms on her lips and around her mouth. So, after reading this amazing site we could learn that the beewax found in the lip gloss may be triggering the symptoms again.

    Just one extra note for those who are sensitive to wax: vegetable and fruits are most of the time coated with wax to extend their life shelf in the supermarket. So zucchini, squash, apple, pears, and many others carry a layer of wax so they can stand longer besides their shining appearance.

  40. Laura says:

    Thanks for all the great information. Almost 2 yrs ago I started experiencing swollen eyelids, which I narrowed down to a newly developed dog allergy (I’ve had dogs for over 20 years). Within the following year, I also started breaking out with cheilitis. It may be caused by the dog also, but I went through allergy scratch tests at an allergist, and patch tests at the dermatologist to check for any further allergies. I have suffered from seasonal allergies and have been allergic to cats my whole life, so the results showing pollen, cat, and now dog allergies were no surprise. I tested positive for an allergy to gold, chromium and parthenolide on the patch tests. Parthenolide was no surprise either, as it is related to ragweed (a huge trigger for me). I since have checked all of my products for chromium (including hair dye, makeup, etc), and have removed all gold jewelry. I have yet to find anything in my environment other than my dog which might be causing the cheilitis. I have stopped using toothpaste and only use pure vaseline on my lips now, in an attempt to see if it’s anything that they DIDN’T test for. Does anyone have any ideas or experience that might relate to chromium? It is driving me crazy. I just started a B vitamin supplement today too. Figured it can’t hurt…

  41. Abdulkader Kulam MD says:

    My recent purchase of lip balms off your website reflects a deep felt gratitude after diagnosing correctly a sudden eruption of “exfoliative cheilitis”. I was puzzled with recent appearance of gothic, scaly and drying on both of my lips. Google search landed up in your informative site – connected me to a new “Glide” dental floss, compliments of my dentist, I started to use recently. It was a type 4 allergy – a self diagnoses you helped me to pin down.

    Having discontinued the free floss last 3 weeks, I find the annoying lesions faded away completely. I just can’t thank you enough saving loads of mental agony.

    Gracious!!!

  42. Kate says:

    I’m so desperate for help on my red, sore, burning itching lips like others who posted here. I’m suffering for it for 4 years on and off.
    I kind of assumed that I have an allergy reaction to any sort of lip products before I looked this blog, because I haven’t had the break out while I was pregnant and not using lipsticks or lip balms. And it came back now, after I tried a new organic lip balm which contains bee wax and jojoba oil. Thanks to the author of this blog and people who left comments! Now I know what the trigger was and won’t apply and lip balm again. But right now, I suffer from inflamed lips – mostly around lips are burning and cracking because of dryness.

    My question is which is a better application to avoid dryness – coconut oil or Vaseline (pure petroleum jelly)? I know none of this won’t make the symptom better, but at least I want to avoid anything which makes my lips worse. I used coconut oil last time my lips broke out, and my doctor recommended to use coconut oil. I felt better after I used it, but it doesn’t help this time. So I switched to Vaseline after I read some comments last night. Dryness got better, but the redness spreads wide and there are lots of little bumps on the red skin. My lips are almost fine. It is mostly the bottom part of lips. Should I stop using the petroleum jelly? Can coconut oil or petroleum jelly cause a worse allergy reaction? I looked the beewaxfree lip balm ingredient, but I can’t use it because of avocado oil. I’m allergic to avocado. When I eat an avocado, my lips (inside and outside) are swelling. It is different than cheilitis. My lips swell right away and go away in a few hours. Please help me..

  43. Megan says:

    I have been dealing with these symptoms for MONTHS! I have tried everything. I was on antibiotics for a staph infection, which then turned into this whole ordeal with my lips as some kind of secondary infection or allergic reaction. The doc put me on antibiotics again (oral and topical), which helped, but it came back after the cycle. Then he prescribed steroids, again helped but it came back after the pills were gone. I only use all natural products… I am a vegan and very health conscious, so something like this really makes me wonder! I only use coconut oil as a moisturizer and also facial cleanser, I also use it all over my body so I can’t be allergic to it. I started using aquaphor to help the lip dryness. It’s oozing and crusting a yellow liquid. I am wondering if it might be to cigarettes, I used to smoke, but recently quit. My friends all smoke, and I am always around it, maybe the toxic chemicals are causing this? I am also slightly allergic to cats, and my roommate has a cat, but I never go near her or let her in my room… Any advice you have would be so helpful!!! Thank you,

    • I cannot legally diagnose you or offer meducal advice without examining your skin in person. But I can offer educatiin. Most commonly, yellow crusting on rashes around the mouth or lips indicate herpes or impetigo. If herpes (a viral infection), antibiotics won’t work and steroids will cause it to linger or spread. Steroids will also make impetigo (a bacterial infection) worse. I suggest you find a different dermatologist. You can also get natural treatment from a TCM practitioner. Where do you live?

  44. Karen says:

    I have read this whole blog and feel a little better knowing im not alone. Where can I buy your lip balm? And how can I get Chinese herbal medicine if no Dr is in my area? I feel like it was triggered by the sun. Do you make a lip balm that will block the sun? I hate hats, but sounds like I better find one I like. Im in my mid forties and this is like the 5th time its happened in oh 5yrs. I am really addicted to lip balm. I use lots of kinds. But now I’m sticking with vaseline. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.

  45. Andrea says:

    My lips sporadically break out into a rash and it’s been ongoing for the past 2 and a half years. Multiple doctors, treatments, steroids, patch tests, and even a painful biopsy have led to no results or disgnosis. My rash does not spread to the outside border of my lips, or to the inside of my mouth. I never put anything on them but pure Vaseline and sometimes during a breakout I’ll try clobetasol that my doctor once prescribed but I’m not sure if it helps or not. When my lips aren’t red or inflamed they still don’t feel normal. They are very sensitive and must be coated in Vaseline at all times. The longest I’ve gone without any redness or rash is about 10 days. Sometimes they will be broken out so painfully it looks like a chemical burn, and with no changes to my diet or products it seems they will sporadically heal for no reason. My current thought is maybe it’s some type of yeast infection. No one has thought that since it doesn’t show on the inside of my mouth and didn’t show in the biopsy, however I have noticed when I take anti fungal pills (for vaginal yeast) they tend to improve in a day or so. Only to break out again in a week. Has anyone had any experience with yeast being a cause?

    • Yeast can be a cause of chronic lip rash. There is also a condition called exfoliative cheilitis where the lips peel and get raw and flake. Sometimes this can occur for no known reason (trigger unknown). In this case, nothing applied topically to the lips helps. The only effective treatment I am aware of is internal Chinese herbs. Where do you live? I may have a colleague who can help you.

  46. Claudia says:

    Hi, I am 20. My lips in these days turning red, felt sore, and I could even see red dots over my top and bottom of my lips. The skin around my lips also turned pink and dry. I also noticed that there was some clear liquid coming out which looked like water. Is that cold sore or lips eczema? I don’t have eczema when I’m younger tho.
    Can I use EczeHerbal™ Ointment around and on my lips? If so, which one should I use? THANKS!!

    • Hi Claudia, from your description, it could be eczema of the lips or cold sores or allergic contact dermatitis. Each of these conditions can have vesicles that ooze clear fluid. You can safely use our eczema ointments around the lips. I would probably choose the EczeHerbal 1 ointment if there is weeping of fluids, or EczeHerbal 2 ointment if there is only redness and dryness. You could also choose our CSFreedom oil or lip balm – it is designed for cold sores. If you suspect an allergy to something in your current lip balm (like beeswax), I would try the CSFreedom oil or our LittleRedRash Ointment as these products do not contain beeswax. Our CSFreedom lip balm also does not contain beeswax, but if your lips are weeping fluid, a lip balm may be too firm to apply comfortably. the oil or one of our ointments would go on more easily since they are softer.

  47. Savannah says:

    Hello.
    I have had multiple signs over the past couple of years, all of which started after I severely irritated the skin around my mouth by dousing my food in Tapatio Hot Sauce. Now, if there’s any spice whatsoever, I can literally feel the skin become inflamed immediately. I take great caution now to avoid any spice triggers, but need advice on how to relieve the burn. What would you suggest? Also, the itchiness has since made its way to my eyebrows and jawline specially. I thought this was unusual. Could it be tied together?

    • Yes, could be tied together. How long ago did this recent flare-up get triggered? That sort of irritation should simmer down rather quickly. I sometimes have to be sure to apply lip balm before eating spicy or greasy foods to reduce risk of irritating my lips. That may help you in the future. For now, be gentle when washing and drying the area, use very gentle cleansers, don’t let grease or food residue sit there after eating and try not to wipe your mouth/lips with irritating paper towels or napkins.

  48. Catherine says:

    Hello-
    So grateful for the information here as I have been experiencing the swollen, burning, peeling, cracking lips as well. I am in the process of trying to identify the trigger(s), but wanted to ask if inflammation inside the mouth can also be a part of this. I have had several episodes that start as mild burning in the back of my mouth and progresses to places inside my mouth swelling, like large welts or burns, then my lips balloon. No issues with breathing, but throat feels like sandpaper when swallowing. This will last for a couple hours, then it is back to just the lips being affected. I know that I need to see a professional, and will be checking your website for a possible referral, but would greatly appreciate any suggestions for something that would help relieve the inflammation inside my mouth until then. I have researched but found nothing that consistently helps. Many thanks.

    • I’m sorry but I’ve not come across these exact symptoms before. There is a skin condition called lichen planus that has mouth lesions that can burn or become ulcers, but your description of the mouth symptoms resolving after a period of time are not consistent with this condition. I would definitely see a dermatologist for further medical advice. Good luck.

  49. Moe says:

    Hi!

    So (just a quick background) I’ve had problems with my lips for about 4 and a half years now (the entire time I have been in college). I am currently at the stage where I can hardly tolerate it anymore. The problem is, I believe, after doing some research just now (although I have done tons of research over the time period to no avail) is Exfoliative Cheilitis. I have checked the symptoms and it all seems to align with what I have and are currently experiencing. This is upsetting because as I understand it, this is a rare condition and the cause of it is unknown which explains why no doctor (and I have seen many) have been able to do anything for me. I also read another description from a person who actually had it but now doesn’t and he explained how after 8 years of not applying anything, except natural lip balm which sped up the peeling process, he was able to beat it. My question to you is should I risk applying nothing for that amount of time (and by the way, this condition affects so much more than just your lips; but your life) for something that might not even work? I would love to know your advice for treating this rare condition as far as next steps since I now know exactly what it is that I have. Whatever expert knowledge or practicum wisdom you can provide would be graciously accepted. Thank you for your time.

    • Hi Moe, I feel ya’. People really don’t understand how aggravating a lip rash like this can be – we talk we eat and we are visible to the stares of other people all the time. It is a physically and emotionally uncomfortable condition. (You can read about my personal lip issues here and here). Eight years is way to long to wait for this to get better on its own. Go see a practitioner of Chinese Medicine. Exfoliative cheilitis can be successfully treated with internal Chinese Herbs. Where do you live? I have many colleagues around the world who can help you. I need to update the list of practitioners we keep on our website, but check it out here. If you are not near any of those practitioners, contact the Avicenna Centre for Chinese Medicine in Hove, UK. They can refer you to one of their dermatology specialists (they are all over the world).

  50. Michele says:

    Thank you so much for your post Diana!!

    I have been going nuts trying to figure out what is going on with my lips… Sore, burning, swelling.. For several months!!
    I am a Burt’s Bees Aholic!!! There, I said it!! I will be ditching all my BB lip balms and being even more thorough with washing my produce… I’m quite sure Propolis has got to be the culprit!!

    I’m excited for even the thought of potentially having Happy lips again 🙂

    Thank you!!!!
    Michele

  51. Emily says:

    Hi!

    You’ve given me a name to my torture! Cheilitis! I’m fairly positive that this is what has been effecting me, but I have a question that I would greatly appreciate your input on.

    I started getting a dry, flaky patch on skin above my top lip, just under my nose, when I was about 15 and it spread around my lips over the past ten years. Over this time, I’ve switched out all my shampoo/conditioners, toothpaste, mascara (no other makeup usage), lotions, laundry detergent, lip balms (I now only use shea butter and/or honey), etc. products multiple times.

    But I had a realization about a month ago. I was raised a vegetarian since birth by my vegetarian mother and had my first taste of chicken when I was around the age of 15. And my consumption of chicken (or the occasional bacon or turkey) has been off and on, with lots or very little, over the years. And the rash around my mouth has fluctuated over the years as well. And I never made the correlation until now.

    Do you think it’s possible that since I was raised as a vegetarian, I have a sensitivity to meat which is causing the rash? Perhaps I never fully developed the digestive enzymes required to digest meats?

    So I made the conscious decision to stop eating any and all meat three weeks ago and for the first two weeks, my lips cleared up and looked completely normal aside from a little bit of residual dryness. I didn’t change anything else about my diet though – my grocery trips are exactly the same minus the meat. But suddenly in the third week, the rash has reappeared to some degree. It’s not as worse as it was, but all the symptoms are back.

    Could this be some residual bits of meat that my body is slowly cleansing out and giving me a flare up? Or because I was in the sun for too long a few days ago and my lips are still extra sensitive as they heal? I’m just worried that I was so completely overjoyed that I had found a solution and it was working and I felt wonderful and confident and now it seems it might not have been the amazing revelation I thought it was.

    Any advice would be so helpful.
    Emily

  52. Joy says:

    Thank you! What a serious relief to read your material here. My doctor practices western medicine and said whatever my lip issue is…is coming from my body reacting to stress. I disagree- on a weekly/biweekly basis, I start off with my lips being itchy. Overnight into the next morning it looks like angular cheilitis and the corners crack. I’ve tried everything from neosporin to A&D cream to coconut oil in order to relieve the itching, pain, and help heal the cracks. Nothing worked. So now I use an all natural Shea moisturizer by Evan Healey and overnight I pierce open a vitamin E pill and put that on my lips. It has helped greatly, however the rash still returns. Sometimes if my lips are toooo moisturizer then they will certainly split the next day. I’m sick of this! Sooooo my question is: should I make an appointment with an allergist? Or a dermatologist? Or both but see the allergist first? I need to figure this out. Any guidance would be helpful and I thank you dearly 🙂

  53. Cassie says:

    Not that you haven’t received enough praise for this extremely thorough article… but I’m going to go ahead and chime in too!! Unlike some, I have JUST started getting this lip reaction. I was also scared it could be herpes (or something similar) but it didn’t look or sound like how herpes looks and feels. My lips got swollen, itchy and then became sore and the second time only started oozing a tiny bit – nothing visually noticeable until the “ooze” dried a slight yellowish color. I thought this HAS to be some kind of allergy; that’s the only explanation. The only things I could really pin point in the two instances this happened to me was that 1) a different lip balm and 2) I ate mangoes (I read an article about the health benefits and decided, hey, I love these things and I’m going to eat more of them! And when I do, I cut the fruit off the peel and then eat any remaining fruit directly off the skin after I’ve sliced it up). Really everything else was the same as usual. I finally found this article and low and behold, mangoes is on the allergen list! And given the way I like to eat mangoes, right off the peel, I’m certain this is the cause!

    My question is… can I still eat mangoes at all or will this happen every time?? I’m going to do some more research and experimenting with how I eat them and see if it’s something I have to eliminate from my diet (which would be a sad sad day for me…)

    • While mangoes can be an allergen, the more likely issue with this fruit when considering it’s role in lip rashes is the oil on the outer mango skin. Mangoes have an oil on them called urushiol that causes a blistering rash. It is the same substance that is in poison ivy plants. Avoid touching the skin of the mango and you should be fine eating the pulp of the fruit.

  54. Ben says:

    I’ve had Crohn’s for over 3 years now and have been struggling with extremely rashy lips, but recently it has been far worse than usual. When at its worst it is a massive red ring around my mouth, and i’m often too embarrassed to leave the house. I can feel when they are starting to turn into a rash, my lips begin to weep in particular spots, and become very sensitive and almost itchy, and after a few hours the rash appears. I’ve used a variety of different lip balms, i’ve used prescription ointments, antihistamine tablets, everything. I have basically come to the conclusion that nothing can stop my lips from turning bad because of my crohn’s, would you tend to believe this too?

  55. Arjei says:

    Hello Diana. I have a rash on my lips more on acne-like appearance in my upper lip. It started as one small acne-like thing in my upper lip area (first seen it after I woke up in the morning). I applied EOS lip balm (I actually started using it for just about one month now). After two days, it started to feel itchy and the acne-like thing in my mouth gone, but smaller sizes began to show in my upper lip and the skin in the corner of my mouth started to itch and burn (has acne-like appearance.) I stoped applying EOS lip balm and not applied anything for almost a week now. I also stop using Neutrogena pink grape fruit foaming scrub, and just wash my face with only warm water. By the way, I used floss for the first time (actually used floss three times before the first acne-like thing in my upper lip appeared). Now I got small acne-like rashes appeared on my upper lip, then got rashes on both corner of my lips (in the skin area, not on the lips itself). Everytime and after I brush my teeth, it burns, itch, and tingle. During night time after washing my face with only warm water, it soothed the tinggly sensation and redness (after few minutes). When I got up in the morning, it still doesn’t feel tinggly and itchy; after few minutes, it started to itch and tingle again and this continues the rest of the day.

    This really gives me discomfort and it bothers me because I sing in choir which means a lot people are watching.

    I will truly appreciate any help for information or advice. Thank

    • Without photos or examination, very challenging for me to help here. Read this post and see if this applies to your case. If the lesions are NOT on your lips, but around your mouth instead, you may have perioral dermatitis. If the lesions are actually ON your lips, then we have to consider many different possibilities.

      • Arjei says:

        Thank you for the reply Diana.
        There’s actually on the lips (upper lip) and some are at the corner of my lips ( just the portion of the skin, left and right corner)

  56. Stephanie says:

    For almost 3 weeks now I have been having skin problems, not just my lips! Been prescribed valtrex, now I am on steroids. I have painfully extreme dry bumpy skin, blotchy, swollen face, yellow crusties all around my lips. Only putting some Vaseline jelly on lips. Started smallish then went away at first, now it is more hellish than ever. Can hardly move my face or talk when I wake up. Waiting to see a dermatologist soon. Not supposed to put anything on my skin.

    I also have a rash on my arms, neck, and legs. Could this be some sort of reaction to the sun? And my lips get these small bumps, not like cold sores, but blister and cause this yellow discharge, and harden. It’s extremely uncomfortable and I am missing work and am losing all hope.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated

    • See your dermatologist before you do anything more. Steroids and Valtrex are typically not used together because Valtrex is employed when there is a viral infection and steroids will reduce your body’s ability to fight any pathogen and if this is an infection, the steroid will make it way way worse (topical or oral steroids).

  57. Jen says:

    Turns out I am allergic to the Burt’s Bees beeswax lip balm (with peppermint and vitamin e). Thanks to reading this page and comments, it all clicked for me. It took 3 weeks for my lips to calm down and stop peeling. It was horrible – they were all red, raw and peeling.
    Now I will be a lot more careful about what i put on my lips. Thank you.

  58. Unknown says:

    I have been suffering from flaking, peeling lips for more than a year now. my lips go on a cycle of 3-4 days. I’ve seen many dermatologists, who prescribed different medicines but no use. I believe its Exfoliative Cheilitis. I live in Cairo, Egypt

  59. Cheryl says:

    April 2014 I woke up with swollen lips, from there each day progressed to swelling inside of my mouth, sores in my mouth ,blisters on my lips and even my jaw swelled. I went to two different doctors and they had no clue. One thought herpes and gave me meds. She told me she had no clue and it was a guessing game. That same day I ended up in the ER with my tongue swelling that scared me to death. ER doctor said angioedema, not herpes and not to take the meds. She gave me a couple of shots and the swelling of the tongue went down. The swelling, redness, blisters and dry lips continued for weeks. I never knew what I would look like when I got up in the morning. Sometimes just the top lip would be swollen, the next day the bottom and then next it might be both. Some days the inside would be swollen with terrible sores. Certain foods would burn my mouth and I simply could not eat. I never knew what my lips would be like. I went to a doctor again and she gave me steroids. Steroids would control as long as I took it but it never completely went away. I had several rounds of steroids and then she sent me for allergy test. Nothing! One night after brushing my teeth I told my husband how bad it hurt and burned to brush my teeth. He said “have you thought maybe you are allergic to toothpaste?”. I immediately googled tooth paste allergies and oh my gosh….that had to be it. I stopped using toothpaste and immediately my problem went away. Took from April to August to solve the problem. Life was good until June of this year. I was packing for vacation to Florida so I grabbed some lip gloss I had in the drawer. On the road my lips started swelling. I had used Burt Bees lip balm and it was burning my lips so figured that must be it. Stopped using it. Only used plain oil chap stick while in Florida. Here it is September and I am still dealing with swollen, red, dry, scaling lips. No swelling of the inside of the mouth or sores this time. Mainly swelling in the top lip, occasionally the bottom lip will be slightly swollen. I look like a clown! I have redness all around my mouth. I use only Vaseline and Aquaphor Lip Repair on my lips. Yesterday was a bad day…lots of swelling and horrible redness. I woke up last night and I could feel my lips were swollen. By the time I got to work around 9:00 am this morning the swelling was almost gone. It’s little after 5:00 pm and I have very little redness right now but I have dry flakey skin around my mouth. Today is the best day I have had in weeks but I have no clue what tomorrow will be! I have read your article and I am going to try a few things. I have researched what could be the common core with the toothpaste. I am going to start with no fabric softener, I will stop using my Vit. C and E face cream, and no soda and see what happens. Any ideas what you think could be going on?

    • So many possibilities as to the culprit here. I would discontinue anything with propolis in it. That means no beeswax – lip balms, lip gloss, lip stick, lip liner, sunscreen…all may contain beeswax (cera alba). This may take a long time to figure out and in many cases of angiodema, the cause is never found. I wish you luck and please write again if you figure it out.

  60. Marie says:

    I’ve been having really, dry red lips for months now. I’m still trying to figure it out through process of elimination. I’m seeing a dermatologist this week! Thanks for your advice!

  61. Beth says:

    Hello,
    First off I seem to have very many allergies and over the past 2 years I have had many new reactions.
    One morning after eating pizza the night before I noticed that my top lip only was sore and had a very chapped feeling. Since then it has progressed into itching including top and bottom with red spots on the edges of my mouth and now these blister like bumps are around my mouth. The corners are affected as well. Also, when I am not touching them or not eating they look flesh colored.
    This has lasted for probably 2 weeks. I had been using EOS to treat along with Aquafor. I changed my toothpaste to Tom’s to help. I did try Lypsyl which does have beeswax but oddly feels the most soothing and calming to me. So far anyway
    Could food be a culprit?

  62. Sim says:

    Please anyone help me! I have problem with my lips.i went uk 3 years back.everything was ok but 2nd year i felt so much itching,redness and sometime fluide cameout from my lips.i used vaseline lip therapy but there is no use of it.i went to the dr she said use only vaseline and drink plenty of water i did but problem is same.when i came back to my country 6 months back lips were ok but after 4 months its start again.i feel so much itching on my lips and its getting worst its cross the boundries of my lips and now its getting wrost day by day.i dont know what should i do.i am still applying vaseline lip therapy.even i couldnt sleep at night cause of itching and drynes.please tell me what should i do.

    • I would suggest seeing a dermatologist (not just a regular physician) to get a diagnosis. You may have eczema or this may be an allergic reaction. Not enough info for me to give further suggestions. But if your lips are weeping/oozing then Vaseline is not going to be helpful.

  63. Michele D. says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I have been dealing with pain in the corners of my mouth and lips that won’t stop peeling for at least 15 years. A couple doctors told me I had a vitamin b deficiency, so I take b-complex. Well, that didn’t do much. I started to think it was something I was using on my lips, so I created an Excel spreadsheet of my different products and their ingredients. I came up with castor oil as a common ingredient, so I started to use products without that. Well, I’m still having problems. After reading this post, I realized there as so many possibilities. I have yet to find so much detail about cheilitis. While I don’t like the fact that a million different things could be causing my issue, I really appreciate this information. I wish I had this 15 years ago as I would have saved myself a ton of time and money!!!!

    • Love that you put together an Excel spreadsheet! Great job! Yes, this sort of contact allergy can take real detective work. Sometimes the allergen is never discovered. I hope you figure it out. If you do determine the allergen, would you kindly let us know which substance it is? This may help other readers.

  64. Tania L. says:

    Hello!! I’m so happy to have found this page!! I’ve been dealing with this lip problem since February of this year and so far nothing has helped it go away!! The first time I noticed it , it was in the border of top and bottom lip it looked irritated and looked like little tiny tiny almost microscopic wholes that would ooze a yellow clear liquid .. It never felt itchy just burned , my lips would swell up and every time I would eat it would hurt . This continued ..then the next month this spread around my mouth and onto my Cheek it looked pink and when I’d shower and dry my face it would leak clear liquid and then crust into a yellowbrownish color so I saw a doctor who diagnosed me with impetigo . Till this day I haven’t gotten the impetigo back but my lips are still the same they still swell up when I eat anything and the only thing I can apply on it it aquaohor because they extremely dry out and hurt ! they still have the little wholes but now when I touch them they feel like sand they are not noticeable unless you stare very upclose or when I’m in the sun. Do you have any suggestions of what I can do ??? IM scared that my lips will start oozing the liquid If I stop applying the aquaphor. everyday I wake up I brush my teeth and I clean my face with cetaphil cleanser and remove the aquphor with a spandex material because I find that that material is less irritating to my entire face I repeat this in the evening and at night as well. my skin is really dry as well and everytime I put my cetaphil cream my skin feels itchy and I feel like the impetigo might come back . I have had eczema in my body before so I have to use products that are fragrance free , not on my face and I also have dermografism. If you have and idea of what I could have or what could help me I would really appreciate it thank you very much!!!

  65. E Jackson says:

    Great post, thank you! I’m currently struggling with, what I can only assume is, cheilitis. I recently ditched my beeswax / jojoba oil lip balms in favour of Vaseline, with no benefit…….is petroleum jelly suitable for use in cheilitis? I’m from the UK and can’t seem to find an equivalent to your herbal beeswax free lip balm! Also, if I were to stop using my makeup remover wipes and face wash (in a bid to identify my allergen), is there a makeup remover you would recommend (preferably available in the UK!). Thank you again

  66. Jon says:

    I just ordered some of your products to try, hope they will help. My bottom lip gets dry in the exact same shape and is constantly peeling. My vermillion border of the lip is perfectly fine, the shape of the dry area on my lower lip looks like it mirrors the shape of my upper lip. I do have the tendency to pick at my lips which I know continues the dry cycle, not letting them heal. I have had this problem for about 10 years now and I get crazy anxiety when talking to people and stay home when they’re bad. I have tried every chap, balm, etc. on the market pretty much, at least 50 chaps. I have bad allergies so I have a lot of mucus and I feel like my saliva is stickier than it used to be. I have taken days off of work to just let me dry lips completely fall off on their own without picking at them, but the skin underneath grows back dry. Often I will have a piece of dry skin that is peeling upwards and over the course of several days, the new skin where the dry skin already naturally peeled from is already dry and starting to peel before the original dry piece has fully peeled off, so I have essentially two cycles of skin peeling going on when I just leave them. My lips when I wake up in the morning are kind of stuck together and it seems like while I’m asleep the saliva from my upper lip being stuck to my lower lip makes my lower lip sticky and then once I’m awake and can control how my lips sit, that sticky area dries out and eventually starts peeling. Not sure if you have any experience with this, balms, not picking, cutting out coffee etc hasnt helped. They always Peel in the exact same shape which leads me to believe it’s not just something random. I don’t think its Exfoliatice Cheilitis because I don’t get crazy yellow build up and it’s not rash-like as in allergy related skij issues. Any help would be great. My doctor just gives me creams that do nothing, mild steroids, triamcinolone, etc.

    I really hope your lip balms help, I ordered 3 different ones!

  67. Terri says:

    I have vitamin E softgels, supposedly a Natural E-Complex made by Country Life that is Gluten-Free and uses “mixed Tocopherols”. I noticed Tocopherol acetate on your list above. Would this be the same as “Vitamin E as d-alpha tocopherol with natural ununesterified d-beta, d-delta, d-gamma tocopherols”? The Other Ingredients notes the following: “Gelatin, glycerin, purified water (capsule shell). 100% bovine gelatin, BSE free.”

    Diagnosed with sebhorric dermatitis (around the perimeter of my scalp behind my ears, in my eyebrows, on my forehead, sides on my nose, front of my ears (where a man’s sideburns would be). Recently got a really awful case of hand dermatitis, rash between my fingers, itched and burned, rough dry scaly….couple of patches spread to my palms. Been using a calendula, chamomile and aloe concoction i made with aloe gel and essential oils (as i hate the idea of steroid entering my body). Hand are finally starting to heal.

    Just today, was wanting to squeeze a bit of this on my lips. The skin just inside the bottom edge has that irritated , tight, stinging feeling…:-( wonder if the ingredients in this may tend to be helpful or not.

    Gonna look at ordering your herbal balm and eczema 3 treatment this week.

    Thanks for your help. Trying not to feel so embarrassed and be so discouraged…this is tough.

    Love and prayers to everyone out there dealing with this pain and frustration.

    Glad to find your site today. Appreciate your help and insight.

  68. NATALIE LAYCOCK says:

    Can’t thank you enough for this article. I have gone to SO MANY dermatologists and most appointments I go to, they basically tell me to deal with it… especially when winter comes around.

    This article has told me all the things I should have paid more attention to…foods, makeup, lipsticks, lotion, as well as Baby Wipes and cleaning solutions.

    I have suffered with the dry lips and eyes in the winter for 3 years now…and they decided that I’m allergic to Methylchloroisothiazolinone /methylisothiazolinon… I got rid of ALL things with that in them. I still suffer from this issue. These tips will help tremendously!

    THANKS AGAIN!!

  69. Sharon Chafin says:

    Thank you so much for this site! I’ve been going crazy trying to figure out why my lips are doing this! As soon as I saw the photos I knew I was in the right place! So, I’m noticing I get worse after eating some Chinese food, and too much salt, but that’s all I can determine right now. I am thinking of visiting my acupuncturist with this new issue, who also is knowledgeable in the Chinese Herbal medicine. I’m thinking possibly sodium, MSG and unsure of other irritants at this time. Any input is appreciated. I do not chew gum, but I put cinnamon on my oatmeal almost every morning. I drink diet soda maybe 2-3 times per week, if that.

  70. Sharon Chafin says:

    PS – My G.P. had no idea about this particular issue, and told me I was ahead of the game doing this research first. I also notice I usually ‘break out’ after I’ve eaten restaurant food…not just Chinese, lately.

  71. Chantal says:

    Wow, after suffering with this for 2 years I’ve finally noticed a pattern of behaviour that always follows my rash. STRESS! I actually call it my stress rash now.

    mine came when I set up my own business’s and only really heals when I’m away on holiday. My diet remains the same wherever I am.. It’s just my face reacts to foods when I’m stressed. I’ve read about a zinc difficientcy. I don’t know, I’m just so miserable.

  72. Louise says:

    Help! I am 4 weeks into red, itchy, tingly and peeling lips. I thought it was triggered by a medication for cholesterol (not a statin), since I had a similar reaction after taking a statin for 2 weeks. However, I had been taking it for 2.5 months before the reaction started. First my lips became very red. Then I noticed a white place in the center of my bottom lip and soon after my lips began to peel. next the itching started and the redness moved outside of my lip line mostly on the bottom and corners of my mouth. Now the redness is over 1/4 inch outside of my lip line on both the bottom and top. Itching seems to be worse in the areas that are moving outside of my lip line. The white spot in gone on the bottom but now I have one on the edge of my upper lip. In addition, my tongue and the roof of my mouth also tingles. Looking in the mirror and seeing clown lips is extremely upsetting.

    Initially, I contacted my GP and received a steriod shot plus a dose pack. When nothing changed and he said there was nothing they could do. I saw my dermatologist. Still thinking it was an allergic reaction to the medication, I received prednisone and triamcinolone acetonide ointment (1x/day). Not only did it not work but the rash, itching, redness and tingling is continuing to get worse. She also prescribed Elidel cream (2x/day). Back to the dermatologist I went. I am now trying oxistat cream 1x/day and am continuing the Elidel. No relief and the rash is continuing to spread. I continually put 100% petroleum jelly on my lips and have been patting them with a weak unfiltered apple cider w/mother and water solution to try and get some relief from the itching. I am schedule to do a patch test in 2 weeks to see what has caused the reaction. I have not used lip balms. Prior to this the only thing I put on my lips for color was wet n wild Natural blend. I have used it for years with absolutely no reaction. I use light powder and blush but no make up and nothing new or since my lip issues started. There have been no changes in my diet.

    Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

    • Louise says:

      Since I didn’t receive a response or any suggestions, I wanted to provide an update. I have completed a basic patch test for things that you would use on your skin or mouth that showed no allergic reactions. I have also completed a viral and bacterial culture that showed nothing. Lastly, I had a blood test for food allergies that cover all of the usual items. It also showed no allergic reactions. I am at a loss and my lips are getting worse. It is spreading up toward my nose and below my bottom lip as well an down the corners of each side of my mouth. My lips have continued to peel and are very dry if I don’t Vaseline on them. Is there a specific Chinese Herbal medication that would help?

      • I am sorry you have no definitive answers yet. It could still be an allergy. Chinese medicine could be a good treatment option but it would require you seeing a practitioner who can examine you and diagnose according to Chinese Medicine and then make up a custom herbal prescription for you. What major city do you live near? Perhaps I have a colleague who can help you.

        • Louise says:

          Thank you for your response. I live in Baton Rouge, LA. While I am still not certain that it is an allergy, we have ruled out most everything else. I have looked online and believe there may be one practitioner that may be able to examine me. If you have a recommendation, please do share it. Thanks again.

  73. Sandra Manseau says:

    Hello, do you ship products to Canada by any chance?

  74. Mike says:

    For a few years, I have suffered with burning and swelling of the upper lip only. The burning occurs every day regardless of the location, especially when I first awake and throughout the entire morning, and it appears to only occur on the inside of my upper lip which is affecting my ability to speak and eat. The swelling appear as raised lesions or welts on the inside of my upper lip which never reduces in size.

    I have seen oral maxillofacial surgeons, dentists, dermatologists, and allergists but none have yet to determine a cause with only a higher than normal IgE as the only abnormality on the test and inflammation confirmed in a previous biopsy. I do not use facial products/jewelry, chew gum, or drink beverages other than water. In addition, I do not eat foods that have been identified as me being allergic to (shrimp, nuts, banana, pollen cross-reactive fruits, etc.). I was also reacted to Propylene Glycol and Glycerin so I avoid any toothpastes, salad dressings, soaps, etc. with these ingredients. I have even went as far as no brushing or eating for 2-3 days to see if the issue would subside but it was still present on a daily basis.

    Since the reaction is only occurring inside of my mouth, the only thing I can suspect now is a possible dental allergy to composites in my mouth. Is this possible?

    • Since I can’t examine you myself, I am in no position to suggest what may be happening here. I will say this… it could be chronic angioedema (similar to hives but the edema is diffuse swelling of the deeper tissue as opposed to edema confined to wheals on the skin). In most cases of chronic urticaria or chronic angioedema the underlying cause is never found. Are you willing to take Chinese herbs? They can treat the underlying deficiencies that are allowing this to occur in you (if angioedema is actually what you have going on…it could be something else). You may also want to read this to rule out another disease called granulomatous cheilitis: http://www.dermnetnz.org/site-age-specific/granulomatous-cheilitis.html

  75. Margaret McNeal says:

    Any advice on exfoliative cheilitis as a symptom of TSW (topical steroid withdrawl syndrome)? I’ve had recurrent eczema on the tops of my hands for the past 5+ years; it slowly spread and worsened to both hands; many dermatologists prescribed me topical steroid ointments; finally, in the midst of a health crisis, I found the right healers who confirmed my suspicions that steroids are horrible, symptomatic treatments that cause autoimmune issues with prolonged use. After quitting topical steroids, my I’ve begun suffering with exfoliative cheilitis. The first few months were the worst; now cheilitis comes back very infrequently and with much less severity—but, even so, the says when my lips are weeping, peeling, or uncomfortably taught and swollen are no fun.

    In brief, thoughts on TSW as relates to cheilitis? How to treat? Do y’all have any articles on TSW?

    I’m currently a student in Wisconsin with limited resources, but am open to any kind of treatment plan. My sis is a CCM student at NCNM and I understand from her than Chinese medicine is great for rashes and skin issues, as relates to internal complications.

    • I commend you for being brave enough to deal with the TSW and stop the steroid use. topical steroids can be of limited use for a short time but are horrible for long-term treatment of skin diseases. If you are familiar with the term “topical steroid withdrawal” then I assume you are familiar with ITSAN? Good resources for you there. Chinese herbal medicine is a great treatment option for you as well. I haven’t got anyone I know of personally in Wisconsin to refer you to, but contact http://www.Avicenna.co.uk – my dermatology teacher keeps a list of practitioners he has trained and maybe they can recommend someone near you. You can try using our easy-to-apply topical herbal oil “CSFreedom” on your lips when they are weeping and peeling, then try our LipIntervention or BeeswaxFree herbal lip balms in between episodes. The CSFreedom oil was designed to address cold sores, but the herbs in it are useful for split skin that oozes. The other 2 lip balms are softening and soothing, but would be too stiff to apply if your skin was peeling. I wish you well!

  76. kris says:

    I am having the same problems as cited above. I have been using lip moisturizer made with beeswax for many years. Could my lips all of a sudden develop a sensitivity to this product?

    • These types of allergic reactions are Type IV Hypersensitivity reactions. That means that we develop them over time – every time your body is exposed to something it “doesn’t like”, it mounts a small immune response against it. Over time, with more frequent exposure to the offending substance, the immune responses get stronger until one day you experience visible/palpable symptoms such as itching and/or redness of skin. So what seems “all of a sudden” on the outside, has been brewing for a while on the inside.

      • kris says:

        Thank you for this reply. It makes total sense. I felt like my lips had been burned by the sun. They were cracked, dry and painful. I tried everything…organic shea butter, cocoa butter, olive oil, tamanu oil, chapstick…everything and anything I could find. A friend suggested I try Aquaphor. I had immediate relief and still do after two days. If anyone hasn’t tried Aquaphor I would highly recommend it. It is bought over the counter at any pharmacy. Good luck.

  77. Martha says:

    In the summer of 2012 I went to an orchard and picked fresh peaches. After eating some I got this awful red burning, itching rash all around my mouth. Since then, other fruit has caused me to develop this rash. It looks exactly like one of your pictures and is miserable and nothing helps it. I’ve had to give up blueberries, strawberries, any fresh fruit, really. Now even fresh tomatoes are doing it to me. Vaseline makes it worse. I was tested at an allergy clinic and all they told me was I am not allergic to any of these fruits. It takes forever for the rash to go away and nothing anyone has given me helps. I have written down the suggestions I have read here and intend to try them. The year before I got the rash, I had a C-Diff infection for eight months. I have since taken probiotics of all kinds. I suspect a bacterial imbalance in my colon has made me this way. Do you think that is possible?

  78. Koel says:

    I have been suffering from allergic contact cheilitis for 4-5 yrs now- mostly upper lip vermilion border is affected, I am allergic to all known lipstick / balm/ glosses, I can only use Vaseline – not sure about the trigger. But I desperately need to use little color on my lips otherwise I look really pale.

    It is really painful and dermatologist has prescribed me primosa capsules for 3 months and picon but no help – only steroid helps.

    How can I get your tinted beeswax free lip balm in India please.

  79. Bridget says:

    My son has very severe dry, chapped and peeling lips we have had a chemical patch test done, 2 biopsy on lips and they also tried giving him injection of steroid in lip. All of this done by Dermatologist over a period of 2 months. As of today nothing has worked and his self esteem is suffering he will be returning to college in a few short weeks and my heart is hurting for him because we can’t determine or figure out anything that will heal. Dr. Z, please contact me by email desperately seeking help.

  80. Julie L. says:

    Hi,
    I was so happy to find your website when I was trying to understand what was going on with my lips for a few years! Took a looong time of searching to make the connection with the natural lipbalm!

    I would have a question: Have you or other people with propolis contact allergy also have problem with taking pollen internally or is it unrelated? I am looking for a natural way to get Vit. B complex as I cannot tolerate synthetic ones.

    Thanks to let me know!

    • That’s a great question. I cannot tolerate propolis on my skin, but I can eat honey. Is it that my reaction to eating honey is so small that I don’t really notice or does this mean that the chemical components in propolis get processed enough in my digestive tract that they then become inert? I do not have the answer to this for myself, and I do not know how it would be for others. Let me see if I can find the answer for us. I will report back when I have reliable information to share.

  81. Julie L. says:

    A beekeeper (it’s a cute name you got in English) told me pollen contains no propolis, but I sure would like feedback from people who has propolis sensitivity and ingested pollen with no reaction!

    I’ll keep an eye on what you can find.

  82. Julie L. says:

    My first language is French (from Québec), the word here for beekeeper is “apiculteur”. It’s less poetic, unless we think “happy-culteur” 🙂

    So, I’ll stay tuned for your findings.

  83. hanna says:

    Hello there,
    I know what’s causing my lip Rushes. Whenever I take fatty nutrients like butter or drink coffee and exposed to sun without washing properly, they come out. I am sick and tired of them if there’s anyway I can heal fast please tell me.
    There is a traditional herb we use in my country that is guaranteed to heal within 2 days or so, but if you know a treatment that can heal overnight, I would really appreciate it.

  84. Jen says:

    Hi, I have had the peeling lips, cracking corners and itchy redness around the corners off and on for years. My doctor hasn’t been helpful and I haven’t found the cause. However, I had about 6 months of relief when I had my daughter. The last 3 months of pregnancy and about 3 months after she was born, I was completely symptom-free. I don’t think I was eating any differently than usual, or using different toiletries, and I wasn’t taking my prenatal vitamins regularly at that point. Do you think it may be hormonal, or something related to hormones?

  85. Jenna says:

    Hello, last summer I came down with a case of what seemed to be dermatitis on my eyelids and my neck. It was extremely uncomfortable — bouts of itching, inflamed skin, and constant peeling. As soon as I thought my skin was healing, it would peel off and start again. I live in Phoenix and noticed that it came on as soon as the weather warmed up at the end of Spring. I removed things from my diet, tried multiple supplements, topical remedies, changed to low-poo shampoos, stopped wearing makeup, etc. Nothing seemed to change. As soon as the weather became consistently cool, everything calmed down. The eyelid issues disappeared completely and the dry/itchy patches on my neck went away about 95%. The healing coincided with when I quit my super stressful job, so I started to think perhaps it was related to stress.

    Unfortunately, the skin issues returned this summer, but this time on my neck, the opposite side of my elbow on my left arm, and at the bottom of my lip. The neck and arm patches are dry, red, and itchy, but don’t really have the flaking. The lip area was initially painful — itchy, dry, cracking, wheeping, and flaky. Thankfully, it seems to be calming down as the weather cools. Again, I have removed things from my diet; I’ve followed the suggestions of my naturopath; I’ve tried tea tree oil, coconut oil, and manuka honey; I’ve removed my feather pillows, and so much more. I’m currently keeping a journal of what I’m eating and how my skin is feeling throughout the day. I’m trying to identify any patterns which may indicate an allergic reaction. I’ve been thinking it may be due to a yeast overgrowth, so I’ve altered my diet and have also started using a high-quality fish oil.

    Two things struck me in reading this article. Both of which are related to the fact that my skin issues began shortly after I got married and moved in with my husband.

    1. Is it possible I may be allergic to something he uses on a regular basis? I typically avoid chemical-filled items, but he likes to buy cheap products, so his shampoo, soap, etc are all riddled with things on your list. He also uses cinnamon in his oatmeal on a daily basis –is there any connection between powdered cinnamon and the Cinnamic acid/
    Cinnamyl alcohol mentioned on the list? I need to do a google search to get more info on those two.

    2. Is it possible that the shower head in our home could be the cause? Can an allergic reaction be triggered by water traveling through a metal shower head and then coming into contact with my skin? I often soak both my face and my neck under the water for a few moments when entering the shower.

    I’m just trying to rule out possibilities. I am grateful for this post and the comment thread. It is wonderful to know I am not alone in this struggle. It can be embarrassing going out into public during a flare up and depressing to know that it’s a continual battle that I can’t seem to win.

  86. Will says:

    Thank you for the article. I would be so appreciative for your opinion on my condition. For about 3 + years I have had an slowly worsening lip condition. The symptoms are: burning and itching sensation, redness spreading around vermilion border, pustules that occasionally form on the edges of the lips where the redness is spreading ( often recurring in the same spots) and finally white spots under the surface of the lip particularly in the corners and the center apex. The white spots ( possibly sebaceous glands ) continue to multiply and spread and become more prominent seemingly in direct conjunction with the burning irritation. It is awful. The pustules/ pimples are terrible too and make me highly self conscious.
    I have gotten a broad range STD test, an HSV test AND a punch biopsy. The tests came back clean, though the biopsy itself caused a spreading redness below the biopsy site that never went away and spread permanently around my lips.
    Any advice would be truly appreciated
    Thank you

    • Oh, that must be so uncomfortable! The dermatologists have offered no working diagnosis? I can’t help much from here. Where do you live (near which large city)? Maybe I can recommend a skilled Chinese herbalist near you.

  87. Carrie says:

    I’ve been dealing with what I decided to call Clown Lip Syndrome for 5 years now. It started one day when I spend several hours out on the soccer field on a cold, windy, and miserable day (weather-wise). My lips got sunburned and were dry and irritated. Then I ate French fries laden with salt. The salt burned my irritated lips and within days they cracked in the corners, where my upper & lower lips meet. Over the course of a month (perhaps less), my lips continued to be dry, red, irritated, and peeling. My lip-line disappeared into a softened clown-lip look. I saw my doctor who prescribed a $100 tube of herpes cream (which insurance didn’t cover). I was desperate for a cure for my clown lips, so I decided to try it. It didn’t help at all. I purchased and tried every lip balm from Target. Nothing helped. All I knew was that salt made it worse. A friend suggested Aquaphor. Finally, I had a little relief! Symptom ms subsided, but my lip-line never returned, still an odd extension of “lip skin” that goes past my lip line. I’ll also mention that this condition affects mostly my lower lip and corners. My upper lip feels tightness and burning, but the upper lip line is still there. It has been miserable. I have had periods were the symptoms are better. And times when I have flare ups that can last for months. I noticed my toothpaste irritated things, so I changed to Toms. It’s better with Toms, but not without a lesser amount of irritation. I also quickly realized that any balms I tried irritated my lips. Only Aquaphor or Vaseline. I also noticed that I would have a flare up when I was on an Atkins diet, drinking Atkin’s shakes. I can’t say that the drinks themselves were the culprit, or if it was because of the diuretic nature of an Atkin’s diet. When I went off the Atkin’s diet, my symptoms would subside. Currently, I am not on the Atkin’s diet, but I am having a flare up. I can tell that drinking spicy foods, pizza, salt, and drinking tea & coffee make things worse. Also, Aquaphor is not cutting it this time, only Vaseline is bringing me any relief. I’ve ordered some tubes of your beeswax free balm, hoping it helps to heal these clown lips!! Thanks for this post. I found it googling “clown lip syndrome”. I knew I wasn’t going crazy! I’ve read through all the comments, and feel I’ll be better informed should I go see a dermatologist about this. I was wondering if your lip-line was ever compromised in your case, and if so, if it ever returned back to normal? Thanks ever so much!!

    • There was a period of time during my worst flare-up of this allergic reaction where the bottom of nose just sort of morphed into my upper lip…no clearly defined line there. Completely normal now!

      • Carrie says:

        Thank you for the reply! So, I am hopeful that there is still hope I’ll have a normal lip-line again one day. It’s been 5 years, so there is still that nag of doubt. Previously, I would only get flare ups while drinking the Atkins shakes, and would go away after stopping the diet. Well, this is the first time getting a flare up without the diet involved. So frustrating.

        Just wanted to say that I received your balm, but couldn’t use it. I couldn’t get it to apply to my lips at all. I wore it in my pocket for an hour to try and warm it up, but that didn’t help, still too hard to apply. I continued to read through the comments section of another of your posts and saw you recommended your lip herbal oil if lips were too irritated to apply the balm. I totally passed by that oil in your store because I saw it was labeled for cold sores. I would have ordered it at the same time as the balms if I’d known otherwise. Perhaps you might label it differently in the store so that the dual purpose can be known to buyers? It’s been a fretful weekend and your oils can’t get here soon enough for me! Thanks for this post. It has been a relief to see I’m not alone in this and that there is hope!

        • I’m surprised that even in your pocket, the lip balm was too firm for you to apply comfortably. I personally test every batch…we have to make it firm enough that it won’t melt in a purse in Florida, yet soft enough to apply to lips in the cold winter of Colorado. Sorry we didn’t get it right for you.

  88. Ella says:

    Hello, first, I want to recommend on an ointment that really help chapped lips and take away all the dry skin, it called “Bephanten” (5% Decpanthonel). I’m using it but when I’m not putting it my lips become dry the same. I’ve been suffering from cheilitis for 4 months. I went to a doctor and he told me that it may be allergy, self irritation and the less common is that I will need to do biopsy. I did allergy tests on my back (not food allergy tests ) .I have been using for 6 months benzoyl peroxide to treat acne. It doesn’t make me any allergy on my face but I have told that because when it touches my lips when I wash my face it may be the binder. 3 times after I ate bread or hot soup my lips became with little blisters and swallowed but it went down the day after. It happend when I at whole grain bread but I’m not sure that it is a food allergy.
    I have few questions.
    Should I do food allergy tests? Can it be the Bezoyl peroxide? Usually the just get dry mostly in the inside part of the lips. I have been told that skin allergy is more common then food allergy in cheilitis. I am cooking a lot with olive oil, can it be the binder?. P.S sorry about my bad English its not my first language as u can see)

    • I cannot advise you medically, so I cannot decide for you if you need allergy testing or not. Be aware that benzoyl peroxide can be an irritant. And the product you are referring to is “Bepanthen” (generic is Dexpanthenol – which I think has been discontinued) in case anyone looks up this product for more information.

  89. Hilary says:

    I have been experiencing dry lips and dry skin on the skin under the sides of my lips off and on for about 2 months now. I am a chronic lip balm, mainly EOS, user and have never had this problem before. 2 questions, can this suddenly become an issue, and what are your thoughts on using just coconut oil as a lip balm?
    Thank you.

    • Yes, it can APPEAR to be a sudden issue. The truth is that it took repeated exposure to the allergen over time for your body to mount a strong enough response before you noticed symptoms. Plain coconut oil is an okay lip moisturizer, but I’m a bigger fan of liquid oils, butters and wax (the wax gives it staying power).

  90. McFLY says:

    I’ve been dealing with lip bubbles after I eat some foods. It is not the food, it is what is in the food. i have narrowed it down to dairy and something in the dairy, like a preservative??? yogurt make my lips bubble and that goes for frozen yogurt bars, soft serve ice cream and some of Wendeys burger buns. Also i don’t eat almonds and stay away from raw fruits.

    I hope this helps someone else.

    I also believe that stress, hot spicy foods, salt, and sun can irritate already sensitive lips.

  91. rose says:

    hi, i have a bad rash on lips especially around the lips on corners. bumps not swollen but very itchy and painful similar to 1st and 2nd picture. creams soothe it but only makes it worse once it comes off. it cannot be from lotions or anything as i get it every year the minute winter cold starts. any advice what it is and how to get rid of it? it is purely from the cold and its horrendous i have had it for a few years already

  92. Amanda Scrocco says:

    I have been having problems with my lips for almost a year. About 10 years ago i discovered i was allergic to many lipsticks and so i never wear any. A year ago i started getting rashes on my lips, itching, red bumps, dryness, peeling, hot and irritated. I have been to an allergist who did a test of common allergins and they all came up negative. I had patch testing done by a dermatologist, and only one of my hair products came back as a mild irritant, and i quit using it a month ago. I also tried a food elimination diet. None of this has given me any answers. I have about 2 flare ups a week, it’s like a cycle that never ends. Now I’m wondering if it could be stress or anxiety. Help, i don’t know what to do next.

  93. Tracy says:

    After over a year of these awful symptoms coming and going, I’ve FINALLY identified the offender(s) and thought I would share. I switched to more holistic/fluoride-free toothpastes around the time the symptoms surfaced, and it appears I have an allergy to the ‘mint’ family essential oils. 🙁

    My heart goes out to all of you suffering with this condition, it’s MISERABLE. Keep trying, and you will eventually figure out the cause.

    Warmly,
    -Tracy

  94. Ben Adam says:

    This is a very informative post.
    What causes lip rash? (Treatment and Symptoms)
    http://www.bodyallergyclinic.com/what-causes-lip-rash-treatment-symptoms/

    Lip rashes can be inconvenient, embarrassing and unsightly to look at.

    However, these are a manifestation of the defense mechanism of your body, and if you follow steps enumerated in the below list, then you will soon be able to bring out your best smile during special occasions.

    – Consult your dermatologist to get a definitive diagnosis of the reason for formation of lip rash

    – Stop using any new brand of cosmetics or toiletries that you may have started using recently

    – Make a list of your diet and identify if you have had a different sort of item in your meals recently. That may have caused your lip rashes.

    – Make a food diary and identify broadly the kinds and types of food you have been eating on a daily basis.

    – Wash any and all vegetables or fruit thoroughly before consuming them. Often your local grocer or supermarket may have applied wax on a specific item.

    – Increase consumption of zinc, iron as well as Vitamin B. This will not only increase your immunity; you will also heal from lip rashes faster.

    – Apply an additive free lip balm to help keep your lips moist.

    – In case your dermatologist prescribes any topical or oral antiviral dugs, ensure that you complete the course rather than stopping midway.

    – In the event your dermatologist identifies that the reason for your lip rash is food allergy, be sure to ask him for a list of food and food items to avoid.

    – Be patient, since your lips may take anything between two to four weeks to heal fully.

    Causes and Symptoms of Lip Rash:
    https://goo.gl/nn65ZL

  95. Habida says:

    Hi,
    Can I know the difference between herpes labialis and cheilitis. I have frequent lip inflammation. It can occur once a month and sometimes once a week. This had happened since 5 years ago. I usually will experienced inflammation, swelling, itch and pain of the lip on the first or second day.then my lip became flaky and crusty. Then it became normal. My doctor said I has herpes labialis but I haven’t done anything to prove the diagnosis. But I think I has alergic cheilitis. so, can I know the difference between these two.

  96. Aleesha says:

    Hey Im very very upset,ive an allergic reaction from 6,7 months, IVe went to many doctors but its not recovring. please give me any solution im very worries.
    As ma lips getted black, have cracks and upper lip is swolling. Ive used petroleum jelly,face palm,cultivate,but they dont recovered ma lips allergy..

  97. Aleesha says:

    Hey Im very very upset,ive an allergic reaction from 6,7 months, IVe went to many doctors but its not recovring. please give me any solution im very worries.
    As ma lips getted black, have cracks and upper lip is swolling. Ive used petroleum jelly,face palm,cultivate,but they dont recovered ma lips allergy..or please inbox on ma facebook profile, and tell me solution please
    https://web.facebook.com/kool.cat.7

  98. bridget says:

    Hello – I’ve run across your blog from searching on a similar problem you are writing about. Thank you for being here. I’m on 3 weeks of swelling of both top and bottom lips, starts with a bubbly-type thing, then tiny blisters all along the edges. Looks about like clown lips. Needless to say, it’s awful. I thought it was nuts and citrus (both ’caused’ full symptoms), so I cut all that out, but still have outbreaks. I don’t use chemical products on my body or hair, I am super health-conscious.I do have a new face lotin tht contains a couple of offending things (essential gapefruit oil, and coconut oil), but I just moved into a new house that has brand new carpet so I’m wondering if that may be contributing?? Two questions if you are seeing this: 1) Wonder what your thoughts on the carpete situation and 2) with your thought process on this, do yu think ingesting the oils you mention in foods would contribute? It sounds like you are saying it is contact with the lips that is the issue as opposed to something systemic? Thank you.

  99. Lara says:

    Hello Diana, your article gives me a glimpse of hope for my son. He has been battling a recurring rash since October (4+ months). When the rash is either beginning or ending its inflammation, it looks a lot like your Propolis picture above. It is always right on the lip / epidermis boundary and then grows in red irritation out from there mostly remaining within a few centimeters from his lips. A few times the redness gets quite raw but we haven’t seen blisters. Generally, it’s a continuous redness emanating from the lips, not independent circles / blisters that get filled with fluid and burst.

    As of last week, his face looked completely normal again (we’ve been on / off probably 6 times since mid-Oct). Last Friday, we started to eliminate dairy to see if this helps the pattern of recurrence even though his skin at that time looked completely normal. Unfortunately, since then, it has come back worse than ever. We are currently experiencing the most extreme conditions that have occurred. It is a raw red rash with yellow fluid that gets crusty. We were seeing a dermatologist who identified it as impetigo and he got very frustrated when antibiotics did not keep it under control. He ultimately gave up and sent us to a infectious disease specialist who was able to rule out MRSA but otherwise was not helpful.

    We are now seeing a Naturopath doctor (ND) who identified the liquid as lymph responding to the open wound. This resonates as a better diagnosis and it feels like we are in good hands seeing a ND vs a traditional doctor. I’m not sure if eliminating dairy is getting us anywhere as once we started it we now have a massive reaction going on. I appreciate your comprehensive list of irritants and we are going through all of our possible areas of exposure in a desperate effort to get to the other side of this traumatic episode. I would be happy to send pictures or buy products or fly to see you in person if you have any ideas. Hopefully our ND and our recent efforts will start improving his condition again soon…

    Thanks!
    Lara

  100. Brittany says:

    In November 2015 I had lip filler. Ever since then I have been suffering with burning, itchy, swollen, irritated lips. I even get what feels like hives – where I will get an itchy spot for an hour then it will go away. Then I’ll get another itchy spot somewhere else.

    Within a week of getting the filler my lips became beyond irritated whenever I applied a lip product I had previously used with no problem. In fact I had never had any lip problem ever.

    The irritation has remained for the past 15 months. I’ve had the filler “dissolved” three times but my condition persists. I’m not convinced it has all been dissolved and I am going for another round of the dissolving agent.

    Nothing fixes this. The only relief I get is from applying hydrocortisone cream and if I stop using it the irritation comes back. I’ve seen a number of doctors – dermatologists, allergists and no one can figure out what’s wrong. I’ve literally been told it’s nothing and I just have “sensitive skin” but it is beyond that. The pain is so bad I can’t sleep sometimes.

    I don’t put anything on my lips except vasoline. I was using aquaphor for a while but when I ran out and had to buy a new brand I started reacting to it too. I’ve seen a TCM doctor, had cupping therapy, have been taking vitamins, tried different meds including prednisone, antihistamine and doxepin.

    This is an absolute nightmare that will not end. I’m beyond depressed, I’m so hopeless at this point. I was 27 when this started, now I’m 29 and I fear this is what my life will be.

    Sorry for venting but no one understands how hard this is to live with. My lips look atrocious. Obviously I don’t date or see friends anymore. I’m completely alone and this is just so hard.

    Any insight would be appreciated.

  101. ZeeTrain says:

    Every time I dye my mustache or goatee, a few days later my lips start to burn. If anything spicy or even mustard touches my lips they burn like hell, just 4 men caused a bad reaction but I stopped using them. The product I use now only seems to affext the lips, any idea what it could be or and natural dyes you can recommend?

    • Hair dye is a very common irritant and allergen. I treated a woman with a horrible oozing rash that we determined was from hair dye. She went back to her salon and they tried a different dye and it seems to treat her better. I haven’t got a suggestion for a new brand of hair dye to try but maybe a salon could help you. Or maybe one of readers could chime in if they are in the hair business.

  102. Nara says:

    I got a very very bad rash on my lips and it started peeling. This happened out of nowhere and I can’t even part my lips to drink water.. I’ve tried using chap-stick and lotion and it seems to get better, but a few hours later it goes back to be dry and red and swollen.. Is there anything else I should try?

  103. Karen says:

    I have similar symptoms of an exfoliative cheilitis a few months ago and still having it now. I’ve been researched and found that the Calendula products from Boiron company that really helps to control the flake and dryness but not cure. I also applied the Aquaphor oilment after Calendula oilment to keep my lips moist and soft but wish to find a permanent cure for it.

  104. Jamie says:

    Thank you for writing this. This is by far the best post that I have ever seen on this topic. I feel like I have a never-ending list of irritants, and it keeps growing. Knowing the names of common allergens and irritants will greatly help me narrow down the root of my inevitable next flare up. I’m glad that you included pictures, because I very rarely find any that match my symptoms. I also appreciate knowing I’m not alone in this. Two other irritants of mine that I don’t know if you listed are mint (like in toothpaste, for example) and any sort of mouthwash, even children’s bubblegum flavor. As of now, fluoride toothpaste is fine, as long as it’s fruit flavored–just throwing it out there in case someone else is experiencing issues from those too. Thank you so much! I’m going to reference this post frequently and will check out the rest of your website.

  105. Emmanuella says:

    Good day….
    I recently noticed a rash on ma lower lip(Not the first time though) mine produces some kinda of liquid and when I rubbed ma lip together earlier this morning it spread to my upper lip.
    I don’t think I saw any relating to mine.
    And they are really tiny rashes similar to the size of goose bumps.
    Please I would really appreciate it if you can help!
    Thank you!

    • I cannot diagnose you without examining you. See a dermatologist. This may be herpes. You should get confirmation on what you are dealing with. Only then can you do research to figure out the best treatment.

  106. Andrea says:

    Hi, I wanted to thank you for this information. I have been dealing with on and off lip itching and swelling for the last 6 months. I am wondering if it is caused by the benzoyl peroxide I have been using on my face to treat my acne. Have you ever heard of BP aggravating the lips? It doesn’t irritate any other part of my face and the irritation doesn’t happen right away, it usually takes a few days.

    • Laura says:

      I too have been wondering the same!
      I’m careful not to apply it near my lips, but read it has the ability to migrate through moisturiser!!

  107. Cornelius says:

    Hello,Robin.I have a irritating reoccurring thing hapenning with upper lip.On the left side,the there is a spot that’s round,a little darker and the skin flakes off.There’s no pain and I have a itchy rash on my neck.I use Burt Bees to keep the lips hydrated.I’m going to see my Dermatologist.

  108. Lisa says:

    Hi All, A few months ago out of the blue I go a small, pinkish rash directly above the middle of my upper lip. It is so annoying. Nothing I use will help it. Now I am becoming self-conscious about it. I emailed my Dr. to refer me to a dermatologist. I am nearing 47 and already bummed about aging and getting older. This is not helping any. 🙁

  109. Nancy Yarc says:

    Ever since the last week of February 2017 I have had red, swollen, blistering, numb and tingling lips. They were also cracked at the corners of my mouth. They looked terrible! This is the worst allergy of my life and that is really saying something since I am 67 years old. Through the long process of elimination (on my own) I have narrowed it down to two things… Either Tilapia fish or Chap Stick. I finally went to an Allergist because I had to know for sure! The doctor took “10 Vials” of blood and sent it for testing. They were testing for a large panel of things including Tilapia. After waiting on results for almost 30 days I went back to my doctor this past Monday. I was NEGATIVE for everything. Since he could not test in this panel for all the ingredients in Chap Stick, he decided to do a “patch test”. He took a chunk from my Chap Stick tube, placed it on a small patch about the size of a quarter and taped it to my back. I was told to come back in 48 hours. Today was my appointment. To say I was in misery over the past 2 days is an understatement due to the unbelievable itch! When he took off the patch he said “Well, we certainly know what you are allergic to!” Bottom line… my Chap Stick Moisturizer/Original SPF 12 is the culprit. I had a huge reaction under the patch. My doctor said I am reacting to one (maybe both) sunscreens that are in Chap Stick. Octinoxate or Oxybenzone. He told me he has had several patients recently with allergies to sunscreen. From now on I will never use Chap Stick and I certainly will never put any kind of sunscreen on me. No problem, I never use sunscreen. I hope my situation helps someone else figure out their lip allergy problem.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Nancy. Yes, chemical sunscreens are known allergens. I recommend lip balms with zinc in them if you must use a sunscreen (which is certainly advisable). You should then make certain to use only sunscreens with mineral sunblock (titanium dioxide and zinc) on the rest of your body, too.

  110. Melanie says:

    Hello, I have been having issues with my face and lips for about 6 months. It started at the beginning of December when I had some sort of reaction on my face. Really itchy red patches appeared on my face. It got better over time and with Benadryl and Hydrocortisone. Then a few weeks later it happen again. At that point I realized that both times I had come in contact with our live Christmas tree. Was treated with a steroid treatment and Benadryl and it went away again. Since then I have had issues with my lips becoming irritated, red, dry, and each time go through a peeling process. Prior to December I didn’t have any issues with the products I used on my face or lips but now I can’t even use the products I used prior to the first breakout. After reading this article I am wondering if this is a Propolis allergy. Just find it odd that it would just appear out of the blue. The lip ointment I have been using is Aquaphor Lip Repair and one of the ingredients is beeswax. I also have used Burts Bees lip gloss recently but have used that before without a problem. Can you develop an allergy out of the blue like that and then continue to be a problem long term? I am completely baffled by this because I have been able to use these products without issue prior to December. Thank you in advance for any information provided.

  111. Lily says:

    I stumbled upon your blog months ago after spending 2 years searching for an answer to my burning, inflamed lips. The severity of my symptoms would periodically vary, but my lip balm addiction never abated. I had no other symptoms or illness. I ordered several of your FireQuencher and LipIntervention lip balms. Both were helpful and soothing for my incredibly painful lips. However, it wasn’t until I solved the puzzle, that my lips healed. The culprit was gluten, which I had never seen mentioned in my internet searches as a cause of inflamed lips. I denied that gluten could be the cause for a long time, but there is no doubt. My lips will start to tell me in 24 hours if I have been exposed to gluten and then I will be miserable for a week or two. However, I now know that the gluten was very likely also causing damage on the inside, even though I only felt it on my lips. I wonder how many other people with painful lip rashes are also experiencing gluten intolerance?

  112. Monica Quinn says:

    Hi…I have a severe lip infection at the moment which I know is secondary to Herpes caused by sudden exposure to strong sun. At the same time I had developed redness of my nose and the cheeks either side of it…like a butterfly shape. I thought it was sunburn that hadn’t healed but now that I am taking an antibiotic… Clavamel Forte…it has started to go. So it seems it is related to the infection.

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