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Lip Eczema: Triggers, Symptoms and Treatments

Lips are often the center of attention, whether they're delivering a heartfelt speech or puckering up for a kiss. But when they're itchy and sore, they can become the last place you want others to focus on.

Lip itch can be caused by many things. These include allergies, reactions to medications, exposure to extreme weather conditions, environmental irritants such as pollution and smoke, insect stings and bites, and anaphylaxis due to food or pollen allergies. However, in this article, we're going to be focusing mostly on lip eczema, which can cause red, inflamed, itchy, and cracked lips.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to manage and prevent this major source of discomfort and embarrassment. We'll discuss the triggers, symptoms, and treatments associated with lip eczema and the best way to prevent cases starting in the first place.

So pucker up and get ready to kiss lip eczema misery goodbye!


What is lip eczema?

Eczematous cheilitis, also known as eczema of the lips, or lip dermatitis, is a condition that causes dry, cracked, itchy, scaling, and red skin around the mouth. It can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition for those who experience it. It can also cause self-consciousness due to its noticeable appearance. While not a serious medical condition, it can be a sign of an underlying issue and should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

Additionally, the discomfort and appearance of the condition can significantly impact a person's quality of life. It is important for those who think they may have eczematous cheilitis to understand the symptoms, causes, and treatment options in order to manage the condition and prevent it from worsening.

Symptoms of lip eczema

Symptoms of lip eczema may vary in severity from case to case. Milder cases often include dryness, chapping, redness, and cracking of the lips, as well as itching and soreness.

Young boy with dry lips

In more severe cases, the symptoms of eczema on lips may cause swelling, blistering, and crusting of the lips, as well as bleeding and discomfort. While the lips themselves are the primary body parts affected by the condition, lip eczema often affects both the lips and the skin surrounding the mouth. Known as perioral skin, this is the skin where the red mucous membranes meet the skin (vermilion margin). Lip eczema can also affect the skin inside the mouth.


Itching is a common symptom of lip eczema, and it can range from mild to severe. The sensation of itching on the lips and around the mouth can not only be uncomfortable and frustrating, and it can also lead to further inflammation and damage to the skin if it is scratched. The itching may be caused by the dry, cracked skin on the lips, as well as any underlying medical conditions or allergies that may be contributing to the eczema. In some cases, certain skincare products or medications can also cause itching on the lips.

Boy scratching irritated lips

As the severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person, and go or persist over time, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider if you are experiencing any of these symptoms to get an accurate diagnosis.

How Do you know if you have eczema on your lips?

There are several ways to determine if you have eczema on the lips. One way is to perform a patch test. This involves applying a small amount of a suspected allergen or irritant known as one of the major causes of lip dermatitis and eczematous, to a patch of skin and observing the reaction. If the patch of skin becomes red, inflamed, or itchy, it is likely that you are allergic or sensitive to that substance. This can help determine if this substance may be leading you to get eczema on your lips.

Another way to determine if you have lip eczema is to try to identify any causes and triggers. For example, if you notice that your lips tends to flare up after you use a particular type of lipstick or balm, it is possible that you are allergic or sensitive to an ingredient in that product, which can trigger lip eczema. This could mean that the eczema is an allergic reaction, and avoiding the irritant or allergen and using a different product may help to prevent future flare-ups.

Woman putting on lip balm

While these techniques may provide some indication of your lip eczema status, you should see a dermatologist to make sure you are getting the absolute best treatment.

Accurate Diagnosis

To achieve this, an accurate diagnosis is essential in order to develop an effective way to treat eczema on your lips. Without an accurate diagnosis, treatment may be ineffective or inadequate, leading to further complications and an increase in symptoms. Diagnosis requires a thorough physical examination of the lesion, as well as a review of the patient’s medical history. Additional testing, such as swab cultures or biopsies, may be necessary to rule out other skin conditions.

When diagnosing the cause of the condition, a dermatologist typically begins with a physical examination. This includes looking at the lips to check for any visual signs or symptoms, as well as feeling them to assess any swelling or tenderness on our around the lips. Depending on the individual case, the doctor may order laboratory tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) or a panel of tests to rule out any underlying conditions, such as an autoimmune disorder.

In addition, the doctor may also order a culture of the affected area to check for any bacteria or fungi that could be a major cause of this type of condition. Finally, the doctor may ask about any other symptoms the patient is having and inquire about their lifestyle, such as any changes in diet, hygiene or environmental factors.

Treatment Plan

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, healthcare professionals can begin to develop various treatment methods to address the patient’s specific needs. This may involve the use of topical medications, oral medications, or even lifestyle modifications. Proper diagnosis is the key to successfully managing the symptoms and should be done as soon as possible to maximize the effectiveness of the treatment.

What are the causes of lip eczema?

There are several factors that can irritate the skin and trigger the eczema, which is also called lip dermatitis. This might sound familiar to those of you who have heard of contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.

The difference between contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis is the cause. Contact dermatitis is the result of an external factor. This can be anything from licking your lips, to a chemical or irritant contacting your skin and causing a reaction. Atopic dermatitis (or atopic eczema) on the other hand is caused by an internal trigger that causes inflammation throughout the body, including on the lips.

These triggers can vary from person to person, and which symptoms may appear to be major causes of lip eczema in one person may not cause it at all in another. Some common triggers include contact with irritants, allergens, lip licking and dryness.

Woman with dry, cracked lips


Contact with irritants is one of the most common causes of cases of lip eczema. These irritants can include ingredients in cosmetics, such as using a lipstick that irritates your skin, as well as chemicals found in household products, such as detergents and cleaning products. If your lips or the skin next to the lips come into contact with these irritants, they may become inflamed, red, and itchy, and you may develop eczema on your lips.

Allergic Reactions

Eczema is often caused by allergic reactions, and the same is true of lip eczema. If your body has an allergic reaction to a substance, such as a particular type of food or medication, your lips, and skin in general, may become inflamed and develop eczema. For example, if you switched to a new brand of toothpaste and started to have flare ups, you might find that the new toothpaste was the cause of eczema.

Dryness and lip licking

Keeping your lips from drying out is extremely important to prevent eczema or manage lip eczema. Cold, dry weather can cause the lips to become dry, chapped, and cracked, which can trigger a flare-up. It's also important to avoid licking your lips. It's natural to lick your lips when they feel dry. But counterintuitively, this only dries your lips out more.

Woman licking dry eczema lips

When the lips are dry, they are more likely to become cracked and cause skin inflammation, which can trigger an eczema flare-up. Additionally, saliva contains bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause infection if they come into contact with cracked or broken skin.  Saliva contains enzymes that can break down the protective layer of oil on the skin, which can make the lips even more susceptible to inflammation and dryness. This can further irritate the lips and make eczema symptoms worse.

To keep the lips from drying out, switch from licking your lips to using actual lip products like lip balm. Apply lip balm or chapstick regularly throughout the day, and keep lip balm in your pocket or purse for easy access.


In addition to avoiding irritants and keeping the lips moisturized, it is also important to manage stress levels. High levels of stress can weaken the immune system and make the skin more sensitive, which can also trigger a flare-up of eczema on the lips.

Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, to reduce stress and improve overall health. This can help to prevent a flare-up of eczema on the lips and improve overall skin health.

Treatment of eczematous cheilitis and lip dermatitis

While there is no cure for eczema, the condition can be managed with the right care. Treating lip eczema can involve a combination of home remedies and medical intervention. Some possible home remedies:

Avoiding triggers that irritate the lips

The best treatment is prevention. So taking steps to avoid a flare up is a worthwhile pursuit. Some lip balm and lipstick can irritate the lips if they contain certain ingredients that are known to trigger allergic reactions. For example, some lip balms and lipsticks contain fragrances, preservatives, and other chemicals that can cause the lips to become red, swollen, and itchy. Additionally, some lip balms and lipsticks are not designed for sensitive skin, which can also cause inflammation. To avoid this, it is important to choose lip balms and lipsticks that are free of known irritants and specifically designed for sensitive skin.

Apply a moisturizing balm or ointment to the lips regularly

Moisturizers work by forming a barrier on the skin that helps to retain moisture and prevent water loss. This can help to keep the lips hydrated and prevent them from becoming dry and cracked. In addition, moisturizers often contain ingredients that can help soothe and calm the skin. This can be beneficial for reducing inflammation and redness associated with eczema of the lips.

Man putting on lip balm

To use a moisturizing balm or ointment, simply apply a small amount to the lips using your fingertips and massage it in gently. It is best to apply the moisturizer after washing your face or after using a lip scrub to remove any dead skin cells. This will help to ensure that the moisturizer is able to penetrate the skin and provide the maximum benefit.

Using a cold compress to reduce swelling and inflammation

Using a cold compress to reduce the swelling and inflammation is an effective way to relieve discomfort. To do this, simply soak a clean cloth in cold water and apply it directly to the affected parts of the lips. This can help to reduce redness, swelling, and itching associated with eczema. Additionally, cold compresses can help reduce inflammation by slowing down the body’s response to infection or irritation. This can decrease the amount of time it takes for symptoms to subside.

Cold Compress, medicinal remedy

However, using a cold compress too often may lead to further irritation or dryness of the skin. If you experience any pain or discomfort while applying a cold compress then be sure to stop immediately. Contact your doctor for medical advice.

Avoiding picking, itching or scratching at the lips

The best way to avoid making eczema of the lips worse is to avoid picking, itching or scratching at the lips. This can be difficult because these are natural reactions when you’re dealing with an itch or a rash on your lips, but it’s important to try and resist the urge. Picking and scratching can cause further inflammation and lead to an infection. It can also spread bacteria from your fingers onto the skin of your lips, leading to further irritation and possible infection.

Instead, use a gentle cleanser specifically designed for skin care, one with no fragrances or harsh chemicals which could further irritate the lips.

Use Dermeleve® instead of a topical steroid to relieve the itching

The most immediate concern for most people suffering from eczema is to find relief from the incessant itching. And for this, topical steroids are often the first product category to come to mind. However, there are some very bad side effectsand serious risks involved with their prolonged use. Dermeleve is an excellent alternative to topical steroid creams used to relieve itching. It's a natural and safe way to quickly and effectively relieve the itching caused by eczema. Dermeleve® is formulated with ingredients such as shea butter, ceramides and Vitamin C+E. These help soothe and moisturize dry, itchy skin. The product also helps restore the skin's natural barrier. This protects skin from further damage from environmental irritants.

Tube of Dermeleve

Plus, Dermeleve® can be used on all skin types and ages, including sensitive skin.

Unlike topical steroids, it does not cause any side effects like redness or flaking of the skin. There is also no risk of Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW) from prolonged use. A single application starts working within minutes, instead of the weeks topical steroids like hydrocortisone cream can take. And that same single application can last for up to 10 hours! Without any risk of long-term effects, you can use Dermeleve as often as you like, as long as you like!

So if you're looking for an easy-to-use solution for your uncomfortable itching symptoms, give Dermeleve® a try!

Use Antihistamines to relieve symptoms such as itching

Antihistamines are one of the most effective treatments for relieving eczema symptoms such as itching. This type of medication works by blocking the histamine receptors in the body, preventing them from releasing chemicals that cause allergic reactions and inflammation.

Antihistamines can help reduce the symptoms of lip eczema.

The most common antihistamines used to relieve lip eczema symptoms include hydroxyzine, chlorpheniramine, loratadine, cetirizine and diphenhydramine. These medications can be taken orally or applied topically to the affected areas. In addition to relieving itching, they can also help to reduce swelling and redness. It is important to consult with a doctor before taking any antihistamines as they may have side effects such as drowsiness or dry mouth.

Use Antibiotics if the lip eczema is infected

If the eczema on the lips has become infected, antibiotics may be necessary. Antibiotics can help reduce the amount of bacteria present in the infected area, which will reduce inflammation and itching. It is important to speak with your doctor before taking any antibiotics. They can help you determine which type and dosage will be best for your particular situation. 

Antibiotic ointment can help lip eczema if the lips have become infected.

Depending on the severity of the infection, the antibiotics may need to be taken orally or applied directly to the affected area. Additionally, your doctor may recommend that you use a topical ointment or cream to help reduce inflammation. This can also help soothe any discomfort associated with the infection. With proper treatment, most infections can be treated effectively within a few days or weeks.

Wrap Up

This article provides an overview of the different treatments available for eczematous cheilitis, a condition that causes redness and itching around the lips. Luckily, there are many different treatments available, and ways to identify and avoid conditions that trigger a flare-up. It's important to speak with a healthcare provider if you think you may have eczematous cheilitis. You can then get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan designed for you.

In the meantime, Dermeleve® is one option that is specifically designed for skin care and helps to soothe and moisturize dry, itchy skin without any harsh chemicals or fragrances that can cause further irritation.

So, read our lips: give Dermeleve® a try if yours are itching! 

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