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Lip Lick Dermatitis
- Lip licker’s dermatitis is the eczema around mouth and lips
- It occurs due to repeated lip licking habits or due to extreme dry cold weather conditions. It could also be caused by dehydration or by chemicals used in lip products.
- It is also called a perioral dermatitis and is an irritant contact dermatitis.
- Symptoms include red, scaly, dry skin around the lips and mouth that burns, itches, peels or bleeds..
- It could also indicate a serious medical condition such as autoimmune diseases or thyroid problems.
- Stress and anxiety contributes to nervous lip licking which could also lead to lip dermatitis.
- Can be treated by taking basic self care like staying hydrated and applying lip balms and natural remedies.
- Lip licker’s dermatitis is rarely chronic and subsides in two to three weeks.
About Lip Licker’s Dermatitis:
The most common human reaction to dry, chapped lips is licking them. But in reality, this does more harm than good to our lips. The skin on our lips is very delicate and thin, while the saliva contains strong digestive enzymes like maltase and amylase. As we lick our lips to add some moisture to it, these enzymes actually tend to make them drier. Eventually, the lips become even more vulnerable to dry air and start to scale, peel, flake, burn, and itch. This repeated lip-licking habit can lead to a chronic lip eczema condition called the Lip Licker’s Dermatitis.
The condition generally affects children of any age and women above 16 years of age. People may get lip licker’s dermatitis on lips due to environmental factors, chemicals, and irritants in lip cosmetics, or due to the natural habit of over licking the lips. The condition typically lasts a couple of weeks but some acute cases may last for months. With proper treatment, this type of lip eczema subsides with no scarring or permanent damage on the skin.
Note: Occasional lip licking habit is usually not a cause of lip licker’s dermatitis. It is the persistent licking that occurs multiple times in a day, specifically due to dry lips, that causes lip licker’s dermatitis.
In simple words, lip dermatitis or lip eczema, also commonly called “perioral dermatitis” , is an irritant contact dermatitis on lips due to repetitive lip licking. Perioral dermatitis is an inflammatory rash on lips that also involves the skin around the mouth. It usually appears as a scaly or red bumpy rash accompanied by slight itching and burning sensation.
Symptoms of Lip Licker’s Dermatitis:
The most common symptoms of lip licker’s dermatitis are as follows:
- Visibility of a ring-like red and scaly rash on lips or eczema around mouth and on the lips
- Burning sensation when eating spicy or acidic foods.
- Itchiness around the rash
- Extreme dryness that makes you want to lick your lips often
- Flaky, scaly lips due to dryness
- Splitting and cracked lips that may lead to bleeding.
- Inflammation of the lips
The symptoms of eczema on the lips or lip dermatitis are self diagnosable. It may either affect the upper lip or both lips.
Causes of Lip licker’s dermatitis:
Lip licker’s dermatitis may occur due to a number of factors. These include environmental factors, medical conditions, psychological factors, and certain medications. The most common causes of lip dermatitis are:
- Repeated lip licking habit
- Lip chewing
- Thumb sucking
- Excessive drooling
- Artificial fragrances in soaps, detergents or perfumes
Environmental factors that cause lip licker’s dermatitis:
Some of the environmental factors that contribute to lip licker’s dermatitis are as follows:
- Cold and windy weather conditions
- Lack of moisture and humidity
- Sunburns or sun exposure may cause heat rash on lips
- Winter seasons
- Dry heat or dry weather conditions
- Smoke in the air
Medical conditions that can contribute to lip licker’s dermatitis:
- Thyroid problems or hormonal changes
- Braces or dentures (Sensitivity to nickel that is usually used in dental fixtures)
- Cold or flu, that causes a blocked nose and makes you breathe through your nose
- Respiratory disorders
- Vitamin B deficiency
- Fungal or bacterial infections
- Autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s disease or Sjögren’s syndrome
- Dehydration from gastrointestinal disorders or other conditions.
- Allergic reaction around the mouth from eating food that triggers it.
Psychological causes of lip dermatitis:
In some cases, lip licker’s dermatitis is considered a psychological disorder. People with anxiety or stress tend to lick their lips more often than people who don’t. Additionally, people with anxiety and stress also tend to smoke cigarettes that further contribute to the development of lip eczema around mouth as cigarette smoking evaporates the oils in the skin around the lips.
Medications that cause lip licker’s dermatitis:
Some medications cause side effects that contribute to lip licker’s dermatitis of the mouth. These are as follows:
- Anti-nausea drugs
- Medications for diarrhea
- Drugs that are high in retinol or vitamin A content. (Eg: Acne medications)
- Medications for high blood pressure
- Medications for edema
Dry lips treatment for Lip licker’s dermatitis:
The treatment for lip licker’s dermatitis involves basic self care techniques. This includes avoiding steroid creams, reducing the use of makeup or cosmetics, avoiding licking of lips and keeping them untouched and clean. In most cases, home remedies for chapped lips work best for severe cases of lip licker’s dermatitis on lips. These include the following:
Applying honey on dry chapped lips provides excellent results due to its medicinal and moisturizing properties. After your lips heal, you can also continue applying honey with a small portion for brown sugar and use it as a gentle exfoliator.
Coconut, olive, or sunflower seed oil
Natural oils are the best home remedies for chapped lips. Apply plain coconut oil, olive oil or sunflower seed oil and leave it on your lips to soothe and nourish your lips.
You can either apply plain shea butter or opt for lip balms with shea butter. It soothes your chapped lips and also keeps it moisturized for hours together so you wouldn’t have the need to lick your lips constantly.
Consume more vitamins:
You can either consume vitamin supplements or increase intake of fruits and vegetables in your everyday diet. Lip dermatitis is also a sign of dehydration and poor food habits.
Tips to prevent Lip licker’s dermatitis:
The following prevention tips also prove to be some of the best lip eczema treatment options and will help you stay clear of developing his uncomfortable disorder:
- Wear a face mask if you live in cold weather conditions or if it's too windy when you head out.
- Invest in a humidifier in your home to increase moisture levels in the house.
- Be aware of your allergies and make a conscious effort to stay away from foods that cause allergic reaction around the mouth.
- Avoid fragrances in your soil, lip balms and detergents.
- Avoid or reduce the use of lip cosmetics.
- The best lip balm for peeling lips are plant based lip balms with spf. Apply this especially when you are out in the sun.
- Use a hat that covers your entire face when out in the sun to avoid getting heat rash on lips.
- Avoid eating food that is too spicy or acidic.
- Avoid washing your face with hot water
- Drink plenty of water to avoid bouts of dehydration
- Switch to environment friendly makeup and skincare products
- Quit smoking
- Consult a doctor to make sure there is no underlying medical condition.
If lip licker’s dermatitis is due to psychological disorder:
If you have developed lip licker’s dermatitis due to stress and anxiety it is highly recommended you consult a therapist to identify your stress triggers. Mental health professionals may prescribe anti anxiety medications and suggest yoga and mindful exercises to calm your senses and help you cope with any mental traumas that could contribute to this condition.
When to consult a doctor?
Lip licker’s dermatitis is rarely chronic. Most cases subside in 2 - 3 weeks. If your condition has not subsided beyond this, kindly visit a dermatologist as it could be a sign of an infection caused by yeast, bacteria, fungus or viruses.
The symptoms of eczema on the lips/lip licker’s dermatitis is similar to actinic cheilitis which is a serious medical condition. If left untreated, actinic cheilitis has the tendency to turn cancerous. (Squamous cell carcinoma)
For acute dry lips treatment or lip licker’s dermatitis of the mouth, doctors may prescribe topical creams and topical acne medications. At mfine, we provide a comprehensive lip eczema treatment plan for optimum health.
My lips are always dry. What’s the reason?
Dry lips may be a sign of dehydration. Make sure to drink plenty of water and increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Invest in a good lip balm that is free of dyes, colorants, fragrance and chemicals to make sure you don’t irritate dry lips and make it infectious.
What is a good lip balm for dry lips?
A good lip balm for dry lips is usually plant based and free of chemicals, colorants and fragrances. Dry lips are highly prone to infections so it is better to stick to mild and moisturizing lip balms to avoid getting lip dermatitis.
How long does lip eczema last?
Lip eczema or lip dermatitis may last 2 - 3 weeks or even months if not taken care of. Drink plenty of water and moisturize your lips with a lip balm. If you live in dry conditions, invest in a humidifier to increase the moisture in your home. Reduce or refrain from using cosmetics with harsh chemicals.
Is lip dermatitis contagious?
No lip dermatitis is not contagious.
Why do my lips keep peeling and bleeding?
Lips keep peeling and bleeding if they are not properly moisturized or if you are dehydrated. Make it a habit to consume 8 glasses of water and keep a lip balm available at all times. Avoid peeling your lips as it could aggravate the bleeding. For skin rash around the mouth and on lips, consult a dermatologist to determine if you have lip licker’s dermatitis.
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