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Contact dermatitis on the lips is also called allergic contact cheilitis or lip licker’s dermatitis. It occurs more often in women than in men and can affect people of all ages, but it’s more common in adults than in children.

For women, the most common cause of allergic reactions is lip cosmetics, like lipstick and lip gloss. For men, it’s usually toothpaste. In older people, medications are often the cause. Dental materials and things like toothpaste and mouthwash can cause cheilitis in people of any age.

Kids are more likely to have food allergies, and people with allergic contact cheilitis often have other allergies.

What Does Lip Licker’s Dermatitis Mean?

Lip licker’s dermatitis happens when the lips and skin around them get irritated because they come into contact with something irritating, like saliva from licking your lips too much. It’s also called lip-lick cheilitis or saliva-induced contact dermatitis.

Can Lip Dermatitis Spread?

You might notice your skin is dry, flaky, or scaly, and sometimes fluid leaks. The rash might make your skin itchy or feel like it’s burning. Sometimes, it can even spread to other parts of your face, like your nose and eyes. In rare cases, the same rash might appear around your private parts.

How Long Does Lip Dermatitis Last?

Once your lips get irritated, it can last for weeks, even up to eight weeks sometimes. Some individuals might take a break from whatever’s causing the irritation for a week or two, but often, that’s not enough time to notice any changes. Numerous people deal with dry, cracked lips and need to use lip balm every day.

How to Diagnose Allergic Contact Cheilitis?

Your doctor will examine your lips and check if any other skin parts are irritated or swollen. They will ask about your past health, especially if you have had bad reactions. Ensure to tell them if anyone in your family has had skin problems like eczema.

To figure out if you have allergic contact cheilitis, your doctor might do some tests:

  • They might perform allergy tests to determine whether a certain substance is irritating your lips. They do this by putting a small amount of the substance on your skin to see if it causes a reaction.
  • They might also do blood or urine tests to check for infections caused by viruses or bacteria.

Contact Dermatitis on Lips Treatment

If you have irritated lips, stop licking, biting, or sucking on them. Avoid using lip balms or lipsticks that might make it worse. Your doctor might suggest:

  • Use petroleum jelly or a gentle moisturizer to help with dry, cracked lips.
  • They might also give you a cream with steroids to calm the swelling.

Sometimes, if your lip problem is severe, you might need to take prescribed steroids as pills or use a special cream that helps your body not react too strongly to things that cause allergies.

Tips for Lip Licker’s Dermatitis Prevention

If you have eczema elsewhere on your body, you might not be able to stop it from happening on your lips, but you can lower the chances by:

  • Do not use lipstick, lip balm, or other makeup with strong smells or colors.
  • Drinking less alcohol.
  • Drinking lots of water.
  • Keeping your lips moist with petroleum jelly.
  • Not licking, scratching, biting, or sucking on your lips.
  • Choosing mouthwash and toothpaste that don’t have alcohol or strong germ killers.

Final Remarks

You can experience contact dermatitis on lips during winter due to dryness or excessive humidity. However, if it occurs on other body parts and refuses to go away within a few days, visit your healthcare provider for further diagnosis.

Visit Dr. Muhammad Irfan at the Family Diagnostic Clinic. Our physician is board-certified in internal and palliative medicine to treat multiple chronic and acute conditions. Call us at (281) 351-6800 to book an appointment.

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