Common Causes of Recurrent Lip Rashes (Cheilitis)

[This post has been updated with new information in September 2019]

Recurrent lip rashes and rashes around the mouth can be caused by various factors such as dermatological diseases, infections, allergic reactions, chemical irritants, and physical irritants.  Let’s explore the most common causes of lip rashes so you can help your lips heal.

Diseases That Can Cause Lip Rashes

Common presentation of impetigo at corners of lips - golden crusting.

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

Infections are often a cause of recurrent lip rashes.  Herpes simplex virus (HSV I and HSV II) is a common cause of lip rashes and rashes around the mouth. The vesicular lesions caused by HSV are called cold sores or fever blisters (Zi Zai’s CSFreedom™ Herb-Infused Oil is ideal for treating this). Impetigo is a 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 somewhat common in people with no teeth. Most dermatologists will easily be able to diagnose these types of lip rashes that are caused by biological pathogens.

Other Causes of Lip Rashes

In addition to external pathogens, internal skin diseases can also have lip involvement.  Atopic eczema patients commonly have inflammation of the lips or around the mouth.  Though there are usually many other areas of the body with inflammation and itching in such cases, the eczema may be confined to the lips.   Psoriasis can manifest on the lips (though this is not very common).  The oral form of a skin condition called lichen planus can manifest on the lips, though in such cases it will appear on the inside of the lips (the oral mucosa), not on the outer surface.  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 use (smoking or chewing).

Another skin condition that involves a rash around the mouth is perioral dermatitis.  This does NOT involve the lips at all.  If you have a rash around your mouth, near your nose, or even at the edges of your eyelids, read about perioral dermatitis in this post.

What is Cheilitis?

The general condition of inflamed lips is called cheilitis [pronounced: kī-ˈlīt-əs –> the “chei” part is pronounced like the male name “Kai” (rhymes with “eye”)]. This inflammation can affect the lips themselves as well as the area around the mouth, the vermilion border (the borderline between the lips and the regular skin of the face) and the labial mucosa (the moist part of the lip that is inside the mouth).  The symptoms of cheilitis can include lip itchiness, swelling, redness, stinging/burning, oozing, crusting, peeling, and/or flaking.

Cheilitis can be the only symptom or it can be part of a more complex picture of disease.  It 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 even when their eczema is not active (they have a tendency to have very dry skin and dry lips are prone to 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 or can be triggered by irritant or contact dermatitis.

Allergens and Irritants Causing Cheilitis

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 lip rashes or rashes elsewhere on the skin for me to list all of them here. Any substance that contains protein molecules has the potential to be an allergen to a human.  People who have atopic eczema or have a history of sensitive skin are going to be more likely to develop allergic contact dermatitis.  The rest of this post will cover the most common allergens and irritants that cause chronic or recurrent cheilitis.  I will list the types of products the substances are most commonly found in so you can learn to look for these ingredients and avoid them.

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.

Don’t forget – it may not just be something YOU are putting on YOUR lips that is causing a reaction.  A rash on YOUR lips may result from the lip balm or skin products your kissing partner uses! Pokey facial hair can be quite the physical  irritant that causes lip or mouth rashes if you are kissing someone with a mustache or beard.  Wind, sun, irritating fabrics in a scarf or the collar of a coat that rubs on your chin or covers your mouth in winter (especially for skiers/snowboarders) can cause rashes and redness, so be sure to consider your lifestyle when trying to assess the cause of your recurrent mouth, chin or lip rash.

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, sunblock, cleansers, soap, shampoo, conditioner, toners, cosmetics (foundation, mascara, lipstick/gloss, pressed powder), makeup remover, laundry detergent, body wash, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash.

The Most Common ALLERGENS Found in Skin Care and Personal Hygiene Products

Lip rash due to propolis allergy - red, swollen lips.

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

  • **Fragrance** (avoid EVERYTHING that lists “fragrance” among its ingredients, especially all skincare products as well as 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 (that gets mixed in during harvesting of honeycomb) that causes a reaction in those with propolis allergy (found in mascara, lotions, sunscreens, ointments/balms/salves, 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)

The Most Common Chemical 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!)

Other Allergens & Irritants That Can Cause Cheilitis

Most lip rashes from allergens are caused by ingredients in products you directly apply to your skin.  But keep in mind that allergens found in foods, fabrics, or things that touch your mouth or lips can also cause a chronic mouth or lip rash.  It takes quite the detective to figure the culprit out sometimes.  Here are more things to look for:

  • Latex/rubber (if you are allergic to Balsam of Peru, you are likely allergic to this as well)
  • Cinnamic acid – found in real cinnamon (the spice) as well as in food, bath and body products flavored or scented like cinnamon (if you are allergic to Balsam of Peru, you are likely allergic to this as well)
  • Cinnamyl alcohol – used in flavoring and scenting bath and body care products (if you are allergic to Balsam of Peru, you are likely allergic to this as well)
  • Vanillin – an artificial flavoring (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 in foods
  • 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.

>> Please take the time to read through the comments from readers at the end of this post for EVEN MORE possible substances that can trigger lip rashes. Our readers have contributed very useful information in these comments over the years since this post was originally written.

Tips To Help Your Lip Rash Heal Faster

  • Try your best not to lick your lips – ever.  Become aware if this is your habit.
  • Drink enough water on days when you have to talk more to avoid your lips drying out (esp. if you have a job where you have to speak often).
  • Rinse fruits and veggies thoroughly – they often put wax on them at the grocery store (never eat the skin of mangoes)
  • 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 – available through healthcare practitioners).
  • Apply Zi Zai Dermatology’s RawRedemption™ Herbal Lip Oil if lips are chronically peeling, inflamed, red, raw, or otherwise irritated. You could also try Zi Zai’s LittleRedRash™  Ointment which is softer to apply than a lip balm, but has more staying power than the lip oil.
  • When lips are less raw/tender, apply a beeswax-free lip balm (like Zi Zai Dermatology’s BeeswaxFree Lip Balm or CSFreedom™ Herbal Lip Balm if you have a tendency for cold sores) to keep lips moist and supple.  Dry lips are vulnerable to developing rashes so care for your lips regularly.
  • 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.

Be Patient with Lip Rashes

Flaking and peeling of skin around mouth and on lips

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

Lips are sensitive and they can take 2 to 4 weeks (or longer) 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.  Be patient.

Try 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: visit this fabulous resource :

Shop ZiZai Dermatology Skin CareProducts

Tags: allergic reaction, chapped lips, cheilitis, Clown lips, Clown mouth, Cracked lips, Dry lips, exfoliative cheilitis, featured, irritated lips, itchy lips, keep, 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. She completed the program for a second time in 2019 in Chicago.

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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:


      • Mary B says:


        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.

        • Jamie says:

          Carmex works wonders

          • F. says:

            I’m afraid carmex is not the best. Great if it works for you. I developed sever burnt-looking crackedlips which gave me a serious burning sensation after using carmex. Still doing research but fount out that it can be very addictive & some of the ingredients can cause reactions such as I’m having, I hope to figure it all out soon.

          • EllenOlenska says:

            Carmex is the worst thing you can use on dry/sensitive lips. It has menthol in it.

          • Missy says:

            No Everytime I use carmex it makes my lips so much worse

      • 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!

      • Abi says:

        Am 23 years old female

        I have the habit of lip biting for past 3-4 years.i also peel the outer thin layer which becomes dry because of licking lips due to dryness. I was so embarrassed of my habit and made a decision to stop but then the outer layer of lip becomes so dry if I don’t peel by biting and becomes white in colour and rubs off when in contact with water.i don’t know what to do.

        Iam so worried and stressed because of my condition.

        I really wanted to get out of this ongoing process of lip drying and peeling cycle…pls doctor….

        Medical history – not under any medication, No history of any allergies.. healthy person.

        Thank you

        • Oh, in this case, I would recommend acupuncture for you – this sort of habit is OCD-like and acupuncture is excellent in reducing the obsessive-compulsive tendencies like this. It’s funny your comment showed up today…my bottom lip was raw from my accidentally biting it and I cannot stop biting/peeling it myself! It is a challenge to stop this and lip-licking, but acupuncture can help with that, and our LipIntervention Lip Balm or BeeswaxFree Lip Balm can help with the dryness.

        • Mimi says:

          I have this exact same problem. Is it better now?

      • Damian says:

        I have been going to dr.’s for the pas 2 months because my lips. It started by my lips weeping and swelling causing a yellowish snap on a part of my lip. One dr diagnosed me with impetigo and gave me anti biotics. I took them and it didn’t help. I went to a dermatologist and he agreed it was impetigo and told me to continue medicine and to put a .05 steroid cream on it. Eventually it got bettr but not completely. my lips constantly felt tight and peeling. The upper rim of my lips are itchy and the steroid cream did not soothe my lips. I have been tested for allergens on my back and some stuff came up. I have since stopped using everything that has the chemicals in it. My lips got better for 2 days then i got home and felt the weeping again and the scab is back. I am starting to lose hope and it affects my everyday because it hurts to smile when they scab and are tight. Please if you have any info i would be so grateful. Thanks

        • Anna says:

          Has this been solved for you? This sounds EXACTLY like what has happened to me and my lips still aren’t better. Like this since January 2018.

          • Lesley says:

            This also sounds like me. I’m losing hope. I had bad sunburn on my lips nearly 2 years ago and since then they’ve been awful. That’s the only thing I can think triggered it. Doctor several times prescribed me steroid cream which healed them but as soon as I stop using it they go weepy and crusty. Don’t know what to do.

          • Gwen says:

            Have any of you figured out the cause of this? I’m also struggling.

        • Aislyn Hedenberg says:

          This is exactly my experience!! I’ve been prescribed alclometasone dipropionate and it’s definitely helped, but I misplaced the tube for a few days and my lips started to get crusty and weepy again almost immediately. I got a new tube and have been using it only in the morning and at night. In between I use Vaseline (pure petroleum) to moisturize. My lips were doing much much better with that routine, but this morning I couldn’t find my Vaseline so I substituted with aquaphor. About an hour later, my lips got puffy and tingly, and the yellowish crusting came back. I’m thinking I may have an allergy to an ingredient in auqaphor, but I can’t help but wonder if it could also be related to a dietary problem as well. I’m going to schedule an allergy test and a dietitian appointment ASAP, and hopefully have some luck. It’s been four months that my lip has been like this and I’m so tired of it!!! I’m concerned that my healing will be contingent on regular use of the steroid cream (because so far it has been) and I would assume with long-term use I would develop a tolerance and/or reaction to it. Hopefully I can get this figured out, if anyone has any tips please let me know!!

          • Consider also that the steroid cream was suppressing your immune system response and in its absence, your skin was able to once again mount a response. Steroid use on the lips is something I advise against. Long term steroid use can thin the skin (permanently) and the skin of the lips is already thin to begin with. Plus, the act of suppressing the immune system can lead to a worse inflammation reaction once the steroids are stopped.

    • 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 ?

      • alexia says:

        Burt’s was acquired by The Clorox Company and have since changed a bit, so you never know what ingredients are in there now that may not have been years ago when they where just a small organic company.

        • Natalie says:

          I had used Burt’s Bees lip balm forever, but once the company got bought out, I started having serious burning and inflammation around my lips. Looks like clown lips. Now I get this recurrently, and I can’t figure out what triggers it. Drag.

          • Ecka says:

            I had the same problem with Burt’s Bees lip balm, used to be my favorite one to use but back in 2015 I had a bad reaction to it like yours looking like a clown! I stopped using it and cleared up after a few weeks. I’m having the same problem right now but can’t figure out to which product or food I’m having a reaction to.

      • ashley says:

        i tried the burts bees peppermint. it worsen my condition with redder and swollen lips. seen a doctor and he thinks that the peppermint is an irritant to my already sensitive lips.

        • seaweed says:

          i tried burts bees lip balm with mint too, nothing bad happened back then, but now it irritates my lips so bad. I thought i’m allergic to mint in the lip balm so i bought non mint one. My lips still got the same reaction. I wonder what ingredient causes my allergy. It was the best lip balm i’ve tried that really works on my chapped lips 🙁

    • 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.

    • Beth says:

      I got patch tested and found out that I was allergic to Propolis. I stopped using everything and I still have the rash. It comes and goes. I watching all that I’m eating, not eating any processed foods, stopped all meat. I’m not using any lip stuff other than aquafor. I’m wondering if it’s because of an immune disease that they are trying to figure out. What is your thought, please.

      • theresa says:

        Aquafor lip repair has a beeswax wax in it! If you’re allergic to propolis you need to quit the aquafor. Go cold turkey no lip products or try vanicream ointment, or cleur lip balm, or the vegan beeswax free one on this site.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi..I feel like I’ve been having the same symptoms for over a month now… maybe even more than 2 months. First it started of as an itch on my lower lip and when i scratch it burns abit…then it grew little bumps on my lower lip line. after a while the bumps became crusted and thats when my lip skin starts to peel and get dry. Somehow it affected my upper lip as well and I think I’ve irritated it too much that my skin below my lip became red…suddenly a few days ago i felt that there was one bump on my lower lip… and today the pain of the bump got worse. it hurts when i put pressure on top of it and if i leave it alone it feels a little bit tense. when i stretched out my lips i can see the bump underneath the skin.. I’m actually very confuse if this bump is like a blind pimple or it has something to do with my lips condition.. after the bump appeared my lips is actually getting better in terms of the skin peeling… Im a bit panicking about the pimple like bump because i don’t know what it actually is and why it appeared. It doesn’t have a whitehead or anything and its located on my lower lip line…its been 3 days i think… pls help

      • Mandy says:

        This sounds exactly like what I’m having! The little white itchy bumps weep.

        Did you get this figured out?

        • Anonymous says:

          No, I have not. but nowadays my lips would flare up with tiny bumps all around my lower and upper lip. it does kind of itches but not to the point where i need to scratch it.just uncomfortable. It starts off with a burning sensation and pain to touch. then it would kinda dry off and peel itself. This problem has been going on and off. I know i cant use other lip products other than vaseline and im using hydrocortisone everytime it flares. it doesnt cure it but helps calm it down. im sad because i dont know how exactly i got this lip problem because last time i was able to use anything on my lips. now i cant even wear my favourite lipstick. First appointment with a doctor he told me i had herpes. gave me acyclovir and definitely made my lips worse. yellow crustings were all over my lips, i couldnt talk, eat and smile properly. then i went to another doctor and he told me he cant confirm what condition i have so he gave me hydrocortisone to calm it down when it flares up. it does help but not cure it. im still worried if its herpes eventhough i have NEVER been sexually active with anyone and barely share food/ straws basically saliva with anybody. can anybody help me? if its allergic/ contact dermatitis is there any way to cure this so i can use lipsticks again? or this will be with me forever. 🙁

          • If it IS herpes, then a cortisone cream will make the infection worse because it suppresses the local immune response of the skin. If it is allergic contact dermatitis you can cure this – you just need to figure out what the allergen is. But it could be exfoliative cheilitis.

          • anonymous says:

            Thank you so much for replying. I have never been at eased after the first doctor’s appointment. Knowing theres a low chance/ no chance at all of it not being herpes makes me feel relieved. I’m waiting for my next doctor’s appointment which would be on June 2021. It’s because here in my country we have a government hospital that requires longer time to wait for an appointment. I hope I can cure this like u said. Just need to figure out whats wrong with my lips and whats causing this problem. But really thank u so much. Ive been tryna find from google what this thing is but up till now I dont know. Cant really trust google too right.

    • Sweet Sara says:

      I’m reading this in 2021, but I had to respond. I used to have horrible bouts of swollen itchy lips covered in fine watery blisters, leading to scaling and peeling and I was miserable. I tried many DR.’s, but to no avail. So I stopped wearing lipstick, which helped how often i had these occurences, but not the severity. It got really bad,and the only thing I was using was BURTS BEES chapstick, because I thought since it was natural, it wouldn’t cause irritation. The month I stopped using that crap, my lips healed and I have barely been affected again. Hint to anyone reading; Almay and Clinique lipsticks have NEVER made me have a flare up.

      • kai says:

        Responding june 2021. I have the same issues with the lips[[ –especially when I use table salt but also something else causes it once in a while–maybe beans–but I have not figure it out. I’ll check back and will update if I have or find answers

  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!

      • Lauren F says:


        Also, I found sodium laureate sulfate (SLS) which is a foaming agent that tends to be drying, really aggravates eczema prone skin. I cut out that ingredient from all my other soaps, but I forgot to look into my face cleanser, which contained SLS! I had the same problem mentioned in the article for six months and had no idea what caused it! I’m using Cetaphil now with a restorative lip gel, and it’s settling down now, finally!

      • Cayley says:

        I have been using Cetaphil for awhile now also but lately I’ve had a breakout around my lips and Cetaphil seems to make it burn!! I can’t find a way to get rid of the dryness & itchiness around my mouth! Also, I was not aware that eczema could be contagious…. thank you for your post & any recommendations would be appreciated!

        • Jemy says:

          Cetaphil actually has SLS listed as one of the ingredient.
          I had lip rashes unrelated to eczema so I started using cetaphil as it’s supposed to be gentler to the skin.
          It gave me eczema on my eye, which went away after I stopped using cetaphil.
          My lips also recovered better and is no longer red and swollen after I stopped cetaphil. Hope this helps.

  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. Lady Gretchen says:

    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 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.

          • Tee says:

            Hi, were you able to find out your triggers? I also have lip dermatitis for almost 10 years now. Just like you I only have it on my lips!

      • Sacha says:

        Hi LeLe. Your story sounds so very similar to mine. Although I eventually got to the bottom of mine. It was originally triggered (took me almost a year to notice the patten) by kissing my dog on the head. It got to the point that it now only takes one of her hairs to touch my mouth for my lips to flare up. Right around the boarder and beyond, turning bright red like I’ve totally over gone with my lippy. Then it itches like mad then the skin dries and peels like crazy. I get a few days break if I’m lucky and it starts again. It really brings me down so much. It’s now been over a year and I’ve tried my best to take measures like wearing a surgical mask, our pup is barred from bedroom and the couch. I also keep a large stack of sticky rollers. It’s early days…as in a week of receiving these things and changing ways. Finding our dog a new home is the last resort for very obvious reasons.

  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.

    • Brilliant discovery! I would have overlooked that myself so I am really glad you shared that tip here.

    • Brownskin35 says:

      OMG! I think you just helped me solve my issue. About a month ago I removed my braces because I was suffering from constant burning off the lips. I would also awake to small blisters. My dermatologist told me it was cold sores but I had never suffered from such. Finally I mentioned it to my periodontist said I had developed an allergy to my braces. We removed the bottom row and immediately I had relief. Last week the top was removed but then this past Sunday I started feeling the sensation. And I think I know why. I began to use my favorite Rose lip balm.

      Thank you so much!
      I have an appt to see a allergist next week. Hopefully he’ll be able to guide me on what to stay away from.

  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:

      • 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.

      • Katie says:

        Hi, I have red itchy, lips and they are SOOO irritated and about to drive me crazy trying to heal them. I visited a Dermatologist months ago and they prescribed me triamcinolone low dose to use twice a day and told me to get my pharmacy to order a chapstick called Cortibalm I have done this and went thru 4 tubes of it. In the mornings my lips feel real tight and not itchy then shortly after waking up they are itching like crazy and soon to be dry. After reading not to apply steroid creams I stopped using that. I ordered some of your beeswax free chapstick and have been using it all day long. I’m not feeling any relief yet. I can send or email you pictures if that will be easier. Please help. Open to suggestions.

        • I am not a fan of using steroid creams on the lips. The lips have thin skin to begin with and long-term use of steroid creams can permanently thin them further. The additional concern is that stopping the use of the steroid can result in a rebound reaction, where the resultant redness/rash is more severe than the original condition. Have you tried our RawRedemption Herbal Lip Oil? That might help more in this phase.

  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.

  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!

      • Kerry Davies says:

        I struggle with all of the above symptoms. My right hand is affected with eczema as well, are they rekated

  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:

    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


    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…

    • Laura says:

      Also looking into a sulfite sensitivity being the cause. Awaiting a response from my allergist on that one.

  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.


  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.

    • Katie says:

      Does anyone have further information on yeast causing such a rash on the lips…. my story is similar to Andrea, as my issue started after a round of antibiotics 10 months ago – I don’t have the rash always in the corners of my lips, and never inside my mouth – I haven’t been able to find a allergic culprit, tacrolimus ointment has been the only topical that helps clear up the flare ups… my allergist wants me to take antibiotics without really knowing if bacteria is causing the rash and of course I am hesitant to do so, although I just want this to be over!!

  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:

    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:

    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:


    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!!!!

  51. Emily says:


    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.

  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:

    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!

    • Jason says:

      Have you figured out your issue yet? I have the same as you except my lips don’t even peel anymore. It got to the point where my bottom lip is red all the time and sometimes peels but usually I just get dead skin falling off while drinking or eating. I also have some redness in bottom corners of mouth.

  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.


    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!


  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:

  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 – 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:

    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.


  94. Ben Adam says:

    This is a very informative post.
    What causes lip rash? (Treatment and 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:

  95. Habida says:

    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

  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…


  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. Robin says:

    I also forgot to mention that my lips would tingle/itch for a couple days then dry up then I was able to exfoliate my lips and it would be gone.

  108. 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.

  109. 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. 🙁

  110. 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.

  111. 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.

  112. 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?

  113. 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.

  114. Keri says:

    Is raw shea butter a good choice for cheilitis?

    • Butters and oils will soften the skin. They are called emollients for this reason. But they do not hydrate (add water) and this is also important when trying to heal skin. Dab a couple drops of water on your lips and then apply the shea butter on top. That should work better.

  115. Julie says:

    Since May this year I’ve had off and on sores beneath my skin on my lips. It comes and goes though all day and night. It’s almost the feeling before a cold sore but without any blisters or tingling. I’ve had one cold sore since May. I am constantly biting my lips and the areas where I can feel it starting to swell under the skin. When I bite my lips it seems to stop it for a few hours or so. It’s hapoening all day and night though and it extremely frustrating and uncomfortable to the point where my lips are chapped now. Sometimes when I bite my lips where I feel a swollen area I can fell it ooze a little and can taste it which is disgusting. Please any help is appreciated.

  116. Jay says:


    For the past year I have had this on and off pain and swelling where the lip meets the skin. It is now summer and every 2 weeks it comes back and takes 3-4 days to heal by itself. I have no idea what is causing the pain and swelling and I have tried putting creams like paw paw and Vaseline but it doesn’t really help. If anyone knows what causes this and how to treat/prevent it the help would be very much appreciated!


  117. Kelly says:

    Since Nov 2017 I’ve been having a recurring lip problem. It started with very sore lips from the cold weather which became very red and cracked then they swelled up and began weeping and cracked around the edges. The doctor thought it was a bacterial infection and prescribed an antibacterial antibiotic cream and hydrocortisone cream. Neither of these helped. It cleared up after about a week on its own. Then 10 days later my lips started swelling, became itchy and going red especially above and below my lips and small blisters appeared which weeped and left a crust around my whole mouth which was painful and very embarrassing. Again this went eventually after about 5 days. Then a pattern started where this has happens every 7-10 days after the last attack clears up. Another doctor suspected oral allergy syndrome and gave me antihistamines and I have a blood test to see if I’m allergic to certain foods (I have a kiwi allergy) but I have had a flare up today whilst on antihistamine. I have read about the honey/propolis allergy on the blog. I am a massage therapist and use a honey based massage wax, I used Burt’s bees bath and shampoo lotion on my baby and eat honey but haven’t put any honey based product on my lips. Can you help? It’s really starting to get me down. Thank you.

  118. Macy Anderson says:


    I am quite certain from your post, and from various others, that I have a severe form of cheilitis. I have been struggling with this for about 3 years now and it significantly affects my life. I found a product called Waxelene that I have been using for a couple of months now in place of Vaseline which used to sooth my lips. This new product helped for a little bit but I broke out again today (by break out I mean itching, oozing and redness around my lips, which will eventually turn to crack and peel). It hurts badly and I can barely do my job properly because everyone just stares at my mouth. I have done extensive research, trialed many products and supplements, and nothing seems to help in the long term. I would love to find a way to treat the cause, rather than just managing symptoms.

    It should be noted that I also struggle with iron deficiency anemia, not receptive to oral supplements. I have had to receive two IV iron infusions, which bumped up my iron and hemoglobin to a normal level again. I had a clear colonoscopy and endoscopy, and tested negative for celiac disease.

    Any advice would be sincerely appreciated. I live in Fort Worth, TX but would love to work closely with you if you think you may be able to help with this ongoing issue. I would definitely be willing to pay for your services, but am just desperate for solutions.

    Thanks in advance,

  119. Ken says:

    Good information. I have had some form of cheilitis for several years now non-stop. I think I have cornered a personal remedy. My symptoms first show up as a wet sticky spot on the surface of my upper lip followed by a dry peeling of the skin generally also on the the surface of the lip that persists to varying degrees. A redness (near blistering) also develops right at the transition zone between the lip surface pink skin and the facial skin.

    I have celiac disease which is an allergic reaction to gluten from cereal grains and m.s.g. Similar to Crohn’s disease it is an inflammation of the small intestine. It also seems that there may exist natural forms of m.s.g. such as found in dried sea weed. I also seem to react to various nuts in the same way.

    Anyway the most chronic of the symptoms show up within a few hours of eating foods which I seemingly am allergic to. The wet sticky patch and redness described earlier.

    I get relief often by applying cortisone cream and staying away from allergens. I am currently on a stint where I have successfully avoided any contact with an allergen for 3 weeks. I am at an 80% level of improvement which I hope continues to improve to the point where no dry patches exist. I have never succeeded this long before. While the lip issue is 5 years or so old the celiac disease has been with me for most of my life, particularly in my per-adolescent youth and then again after the age of 30.

  120. Anne says:

    I was just looking at your BeeswaxFree Herbal Lip Balm. It sounds exactly like what I am looking for. However, the shipping costs to Germany are 3x the price of the product so … would you know of any similar product that I can get over here in Germany?

  121. Isaiah koffi says:

    I have a peeling lips which when peels leaves my lips to be very reddish.
    also my submandibular lymph nodes enlarges. they are small, bilateral , non tender and I have had episodes of teeth pains since my age 6 though the pain is not there again and now am 22. please what could this su

  122. isaiah koffi says:

    I have a peeling lips for two years now with gum inflammation. I had mouth wash with my dentist but the gum is still reddened and my lips peeling
    Also my submandibular lymph node is enlarged bilaterally. please what does this suggest

  123. Kashia says:

    So my lip is feels kinda crusty and dry and its like a burning /tingling small sensation and i’m not sure what its from or if its just from me blowing my nose these last few days , ive been sick and was on vacation so i was staying at a hotel and on the last day i wake up and my lip feels like that but its just my upper lip . if anyone can get back to me soon that would be nice . any feedback is welcomed

  124. Jessica says:

    Hi, I have had swollen, red, itchy lips for the past 2-3 days, I may have caught it from a coworker with chronic chapped lips who gave me her lipstick… At first I thought maybe it was oral herpes but I am not sure. It started 4 days after the incident which is what herpes starts from what I read online. I am not in the US at the moment so I can’t go to a doctor to find out. Would it be possible for me to send you a photo to look at?
    Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.

  125. Linda says:

    I am so grateful for this website and blog post. I’ve had peeling, raw, painful lips for many months now. First I thought it was the winter weather and low humidity indoors. I have always had sensitive skin. Seborrheic dermatitis on my face has been the issue for the past few years. I have it sort of under control, can deal with it. Recently I had a BCC on my forehead and Mohs surgery to remove it. The lip issue is my prime focus now. From your blog I learned that I was trying some of the wrong products on it. I have a dermatologist appointment this week with a dermatoligist that is traditionally trained. I never take any of the meds she suggests. I am going for a diagnosis only. I don’t even have an internist. I don’t believe in traditional medicine. Are there any Chinese practitioners you recommend in Bergen County Northwest New Jersey?

    I used to put food grade glycerin derived from coconut oil on my lips. It did not irritate them in the past but now it does. Could I be allergic to this? I brush my teeth with coconut oil and baking soda. Does baking soda irritate cheilitis? Can you recommend a natural toothpaste without mint. I am also dealing with LPR aggravated by peppermint, all mint.

  126. DAWN RATCLIFFE says:

    Do you know if kiwi fruit / passion fruit can cause this reaction?

    I have a recurring small red bump on my top lip near the corner. It then peels and feels like it is burning and disappears after a few days. I just assumed it was like a burn / reaction to the fruit but now I am more concerned with what it could be.

    It seems to appear after eating these fruits, but not sure if it is coincidence.


  127. Jp says:

    Hello diana i just purchased 3 of your products in your cs category although what is happening to me is much much more than a cold sore. It’s been hell. It first happened last june with horrible cracking burning itching swelling…then again in January but with twice the vengeance. Although the swelling bumps and cracks have receeded it’s STILL burning and i cannot keep moisture on them. And there is that occasional burning little itch like all hell is going to break out again. I’m desperate to get to the bottom of this. Those looks people give you like you are diseased, all of it. I just pray it helps relieve this.

  128. Charlon Renzo Maño says:

    Hi there. I haven’t experienced any lips allergy since I got my braces after 4 months wearing it. It is so itchy and red skin around lips like you need to hide your face with a face mask. I’ve been experiencing also depression regarding this allergy thinking it would be part of my life forever. I had a checkup with a dermatologist and my condition is contact dermatitis. She gave me a medication like steriods cream. After 3 months and I came back to the dermatologist saying that I have still the allergy and she told me that it could be the braces that I am wearing. Could be it? Please help me and I also changed my toothpaste to natural toothpaste but I have still have the allergy on around my lips.

  129. Charlon Renzo Maño says:

    Hi there. I haven’t experienced any lips allergy since I got my braces after 4 months wearing it. It is so itchy and red skin around lips like you need to hide your face with a face mask. I’ve been experiencing also depression regarding this allergy thinking it would be part of my life forever. I had a checkup with a dermatologist and my condition is contact dermatitis. She gave me a medication like steriods cream. After 3 months and I came back to the dermatologist saying that I have still the allergy and she told me that it could be the braces that I am wearing. Could be it? Please help me and I also changed my toothpaste to natural toothpaste but I have still have the allergy on around my lips.

  130. Alisha says:

    I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am for this webpage! I felt so alone with my lip problems and it wasn’t till I read the comments that I realised how common it really is. My first reaction started a few months ago. I believed it to be my toothpaste as it was a new one and happened soon after I had brushed my teeth. I first felt a burning/tingling sensation around my lips and they soon became very red. The next morning my lips were extremely swollen. I stopped using this toothpaste and went back to Colgate. However, I’ve since had several other reactions. I still believe it to be a chemical of some sort but I am unsure if it is the toothpaste or not because surely the reaction would occur with every exposure? I also have eczema on my hand which I believe may be linked to my lip reactions (cheilitis). Have you ever heard of an allergy to Sodium phosphate? I believe this may be the culprit as it can be found in a wide variety of things which would explain why I cannot link the different occasions together. Any suggestions or advice would be amazing- I’m willing to try anything!!

  131. Tayla says:

    Me & my significant other were making out the other night, and he had been sucking on my bottom lip. So when i woke up this morning i realized my bottom lip is sensitive & has began to start little bumps under the skin. is that something to be concerned about?

  132. G.H. says:


    Here are some things that you didn’t mention in your main post that I discovered were contributing to my own cheilitis that I had for a number of years:

    1. mint
    Along with cinnamon, mint flavoring in dental products (mouthwash, toothpaste, flavored dental floss, flavored floss picks, flouride rinse) is a big cause of cheilitis and perioral dermaitis. Also mint gum, mint herbal tea, mint breath drops and hard candies, mint-flavored chocolates, mint-scented candles, mint-scented air fresheners, mint-scented cleaning products, mint-scented body washes, shampoos, and lotions.

    2. bergamot (a kind of citrus fruit originally from a region of Italy)
    This is the distinctive flavoring in Earl Grey tea, and it’s an ingredient in many perfumes.

    3. pine
    Being near pine trees, pinecones, house decorations made from pinecones such as wall/door wreaths, wood furniture made from pine wood, pine-scented candles, pine-scented household cleaning products like Pine-sol, pine-scented air fresheners, pine essential oil, pine-scented potpourri

    4. eucalyptus
    In house decorations (dried flower arrangements, etc.), in scented candles, in essential oil, in menthol-type health and beauty products

    5. tea tree oil
    in lotions, medications, shampoo — many items these days

    6. red peppers, yellow peppers, green peppers, chili peppers, dried chili flakes, chili sauce, dried paprika

    7. vapors from nail polish remover and nail polish (even if used by someone who is several rooms away from me, with the doors shut)

    8. spray paint and house paint vapors

    9. vapors from harsh household/garage chemicals like turpentine, shellac, tire cleaner, ammonia, etc.

    10. vapors from other people’s scented shaving cream, scented deodorant, scented dry shampoo, scented shower gel

    11. mica in lip products
    And other ingredients that are used to add sparkle and shimmer in makeup

    12. carmine, also known as cochineal — harvested from insects and used in makeup and food
    from wikipedia: “The pigment is produced from… insects…. Carmine is used in the manufacture of… rouge [face blush] and other cosmetics, and some medications. It is routinely added to food products such as yogurt, candy and certain brands of juice….”

    13. air fresheners in general, no matter what “scent”
    Like the kind pumped out by automated, wall-mounted dispensers in some public restrooms

    14. most laundry detergents and fabric softeners
    Just walking down that aisle in the supermarket physically hurts my lips (and my nose, throat, and other facial skin)

  133. G.H. says:

    Beyond avoiding all my triggers – and I have dozens and dozens of triggers – what really helped my lips heal from the cheilitis that I had for many years, and what helps to keep it at bay now, is lanolin.

    Over the years that I had cheilitis, I tried so many different things to moisturize my lips to help them feel comfortable and heal, and nothing worked. Lanolin was on my list, but I tried everything else first. Then I finally tried it, and it was like magic, for me.

    Some people do have an allergy to lanolin, but many people CAN use pure lanolin with no problem, and I hope that the fear of possibly having an allergy to it won’t keep people who suffer from cheilitis from at least trying pure lanolin out, to see if it helps them.

    My favorite lanolin is made by the brand Lansinoh. It comes in a purple tube (I buy the mini tubes so I can keep them at my desk, in my purse, etc.) and you can find it in the baby section of a supermarket/pharmacy and online at the usual retailers (I’ve only been able to find the mini tubes online). Lansinoh lanolin is marketed as a nipple cream for breast-feeding women, but it’s just plain lanolin that can be used by anyone for any reason.

    One of the great things about it is that the protection is really long-lasting — the following is from wikipedia entry on lanolin:
    “Skin bioengineering studies have shown the durational effect of the emollient (skin smoothing) action produced by lanolin is very significant and lasts for many hours.
    Lanolin… has been shown to reduce roughness by about 35% after one hour and 50% after two hours, with the overall effect lasting for considerably more than eight hours.
    …When applied daily at around 4 mg/cm2 for five consecutive days, the positive moisturising effects of lanolin were detectable until 72 hours after final application.
    Lanolin may achieve some of its moisturising effects by forming a secondary moisture reservoir within the skin.
    The barrier repair properties of lanolin have been reported to be superior to those produced by both petrolatum and glycerin. In a small clinical study conducted on volunteer subjects with terribly dry (xerotic) hands, lanolin was shown to be superior to petrolatum in reducing the signs and symptoms of dryness and scaling, cracks and abrasions, and pain and itch. In another study, a high purity grade of lanolin was found to be significantly superior to petrolatum in assisting the healing of superficial wounds.”

  134. G.H. says:

    Under one of your other blog posts on this site about cheilitis/lip inflammation, about an hour ago I left a comment mentioning the EOS class action suit,
    then when I clicked over to read this comment thread next, I saw on this page, in the area entitled “Sites That Link to this Post”, there are some sites about the EOS lawsuit that have linked to this blog post.
    (Even though, as far as I know, your blog post above did not mention EOS by name, or the lawsuit.)

    I discovered the EOS lawsuit a number of years ago when I was in the throes of my cheilitis and was searching far and wide for ways to get rid of it and to understand what had caused it.

    For me, it probably was not EOS specifically that caused my cheilitis, although at one point of my life I had used it daily, for a couple of years, about 6-8 years ago.

    The particular EOS product that was targeted by the lawsuit (it wasn’t all their lip balms, just a certain category of them) had something in it which affected a LOT of people (beyond the usual minority of people who might unfortunately be sensitive to a common ingredient, which is seen to be their individual problem and not the manufacturer’s problem), thus the class action suit.

    I don’t know how the case was resolved, if it ever was, but I’m sure info is readily available online about the outcome.

  135. G.H. says:

    On one of Diana’s other blog posts about lip inflammation/cheilitis, I had mentioned that, recently, a 15-second contact with a Burt’s Bees product (the baby wash) caused me to have lasting redness and a stinging sensation, and I actually contacted their customer service phone line to report the issue.

    If other people want to do that, I don’t know if it would help anything, but you never know – if they get enough complaints, they might develop new formulas that are less irritating to the subset of customers who are having bad reactions to their current product lines.

    Burt’s Bees was bought out several years ago by a conglomerate and is now owned by Clorox, the bleach company. The customer service phone number is: 1-800-849-7112.

  136. Bev says:

    So happy I found this information. Most of my research has come up with conditions that come close but not exactly. I have intense (and I mean really intense) itching on my lips. There is some swelling too, but it’s the itching that’s the worst. The edges of my lips are red to the point where there is no line between my lips & the skin around it. I have no blisters or sores & nothing at the corners of my mouth. I’ve tried Abreva, Lysine, Chap Stick, hydrocortisone cream & ointment, vaseline, topical benadryl, & an antihistamine. The symptoms come & go sometimes lasting a month. At night the itching can be so severe that it keeps me awake. Rubbing the itch makes my lips more red & increases the swelling. Two of the pictures above look very similar to my condition. It always starts on my lower left lip & eventually goes to my top lip. I do get a lot of sun/wind exposure. I always try to keep my lips covered in some kind of lip balm thinking it’s protecting them from a flare up. Currently my flare up is going on week #5. I’m hoping some of this information will be helpful. I am on a limited income & have no health insurance so seeing a dr of any kind is unlikely.
    Thank you for all these posts & your answers. Keeping my fingers crossed that some of your suggestions work for me too.

  137. nori says:

    i have used this original burts bees lip balm with peppermint. No allergy reaction to it on my lips for a few months. Then i suddenly got rashes all over my lips. It was so painful and it produce some kind of watery stuff. My doctor said it was because i keep using listerine everyday and gave me some medicine. After my lips healed, i used my burts bees lip balm again and my allergy returned. I thought i was allergic to the mint, so i bought non mint kind after i healed again. But it still causes rashes. I wonder what ingredient causes my allergy reaction? It was the best lip balm i’ve tried that really works on my chapped lips 🙁 pls help

  138. Lisa says:

    I am so glad you are still responding to questions! For the past 4 years I have had a redness occur on my lips and on my chin that no doctor can figure out and it is driving me crazy. I am not allergic to anything. I have tried cutting out every dietary allergen in 2 month cycles and it doesn’t correlate to any food. I just ate dinner and the redness is on my lips again. When it’s severe, it causes the entire mouth area, inside and outside, to swell VERY BADLY and takes weeks for it to heal. This happens about once every 1-3 months. It’s unbearable. My chin is permanently scarred at this point with a red patch from all the irritations. I can’t figure out what it might be. The only thing in my meal different than usual is falafel (without oil) that is homemade but nothing I used is unusual, I eat every herb in the seasoning at least once a week if not more. (I ate white rice, parsley, avocado, broccoli sprouts, tomato, cooked chickpeas, tumeric, garlic, onion, cumin, coriandor, chili pepper, and zucchini…) I also used lip balm earlier today but this doesn’t seem to correlate to lip balm. I have even gone 6 months without lip balm and it still occurs. Doctors and I have treated this as yeast, bacterial, etc, used anti-fungals, anti-bacterials, anti-inflammatory… NOTHING works or prevents this. What the heck is going on with me? It usually happens around my menstrual cycle but that was a week ago and I have a little redness on my lips after dinner. Any thoughts??? Any help would be appreciated. The doctor does not want to take a sample so as to prevent scarring….

  139. Crazy Chicken Lady says:

    I thought I was suffering from severe cold sores- I get hundreds of tiny blisters all over my lips and surrounding area. This started two months ago and has been nothing short of pure hell with the worst burning, tingling, cracking, swollen (5x the normal size), peeling, bleeding imaginable on my lips. Nothing for cold sores touches this and nothing has worked. Every day or two all the skin and surrounding area peels off. I can’t even eat without extreme pain. I have a severely depressed immune system so I’m wondering if that is the cause of all of this. Prior to June I’ve never had a cold sore in my life! Sometimes my lips look like the photo of the propolis allergy. I ordered some of your lip products and hope they help because adding this to my other list of health issues is more than I can bear. I’m going to cut out all potential allergens on my lips and that area. Would ingesting these things also cause a reaction? With so many potential allergens how in the heck does one figure out the culprit? While I wait for these to arrive is there anything I can safely use to start the healing process? Thanks so much for this post. I pray I finally figured out the answer to this pure hell.

  140. Hannah says:

    Hi my name is Hannah for probably 8 months I have been dealing with the corner of my lips cracking and getting little tiny bumps on the outer edge of my bottom lip and sometimes my top one. The first break out lasted probably a month or a little longer and the second one probably lasted two weeks and then the third and 4th probably lasted a week or so. I think Its starting again. The corner of my lips will feel I guess you could say “soar” and then I buy medicated chapstick which honestly does wonders but doesn’t make it stop. It just makes them feel better and then I’ll start to get little bumps around the edge of my lips and I thought it would be a cold soar but I have plenty of people telling me it’s not and it could just be an allergic reaction to something. I only really get it when I feel like yucky or sick or if I get stressed(I think on the stress part) I haven’t been able to go see anyone and it started in like December of last year right after I started using my birth control but as soon as I noticed it, I stopped taking it and thought that was the cause but it wasn’t. Could you help me at all? I just found out I was pregnant so yes I’m stressed but I’m also feeling yucky. Could it be that my immune system is weak and that causes it? Please help!

    • It could be so many possibilities. Without seeing it for myself it is impossible for me to say. Obviously you read this blog post, but if nothing listed here seems like the culprit, read through the comments – readers have written in and shared a wealth of knowledge here.

  141. Lippy says:

    Hi I hope for an answer.
    I have problems with my lips for about 4 months now.

    It started with me having dry lips and licking them alot. It wasnt a problem at that point but then I switched to a lip balm. I used it every day multiple times for weeks.
    Then I got an herpes infection but got rid of it rather fast. But my current problem stayed.

    Lips are usually really red, dry, tight with tingling and burning sensation. And especially the red aura around my lips makes the contures dissapear, which looks terrible. The redness conture around my lips isnt big tho and doesnt seem dry or hurt. Lips seem swolen from time to time too. I stopped using my lip balm and switched to another one.

    I went to 3 general doctors and one dermatologist. The 3 doctors didnt know anything. My derma gave me antiallergic tabletts. I took them 3 weeks straight everyday but it didnt make a difference. Then he made a blood test but found nothing wrong and gave up on me.

    I found out 3 days ago that my current Lip balm also contains beeswax, hidden as cera alba. So just to be sure I havent used any lip balm the last 3 days.
    I also tried out hydrocortisone creme but it doesnt have any effect either. Also didnt use my toothpaste for 5 days straight, looked for possible food allergies too be sure, didnt find anything. No matter what comes near my lips, they react. They react to every food, olive oil, pure petroleum jelly. Also they turn super red when doing physical activities.

    Yesterday before bed my lips looked better, today I wake up and they look worse. I have no idea what I did wrong.

    If cera alba is actually the problem and I continue to not use it anymore, how long does it take that my lips will start to look better? Does it really take 1-2 weeks to see a difference?

    Thanks in advance

    • It can take weeks to MONTHS for the skin to heal. Read this post as it might shed some light on this issue as well:

      • Lippy says:

        Thanks alot for the answer.
        Just want to mention that I haven used any lip balm in 5 days now and my lips are defenitely improving. They actually never looked that good in the last few months.
        They are super dry right now, but my lip color is almost normal for the last 2 days and the red contur around my lips looks alot less vibrant. Also no sensations anymore besides feeling tight since they are dry.
        It usually gets a bit worse once I eat something but it takes like an hour and they look “normal” again.

        Like you said it will take a few weeks until they are completely healed and recovered but for me its just important that I found out what the problem was.

        Im glad I found this site, thanks alot.

  142. Anjali says:

    I have been facing a similar problem with my lips since the past 5 months. It started because of lips getting extremely dry. Few days later, the lips around my skin became pinkish. I visited a doctor who asked me to apply a corticosteroid to the affected area. It would make the pinkness go away, but only temporarily. As soon as I stopped using the corticosteroid, the pinkness came back. Then one day, I had a breakout on my lips. Very small pink (same colour as lips) eruptions were there all over my lips. I went to a new dermatologist, who asked me to apply an immunosuppressant ointment to the effected area. Again, this worked in making the rashes go away temporarily, but they would come back. The appearance of the rash has also changed over time. It started from pinkish colour around my lips and now I get small pink eruptions on surrounding skin and lips. There were weeks when the corners of my lips would crack open due to dryness, but that is somewhat under control now. I have not been using any cosmetic products on my lips for the last few months. I only applied white petroleum jelly regularly. Yesterday, even applying the petroleum jelly led to a slight burning sensation. Few days back I had also started applying Vitamin E Oil (Tocopheryl Acetate) to my lips and the surrounding skin at night. This morning, the I had more intensified rashes on the skin above my upper lip and the lip lining. Also my lips feel extremely dry (since i am no longer using petroleum jelly or Vitamin E oil). I am easting no food from outside as well. This has become a very frustrating problem for me. Could you please provide some valuable suggestions?

  143. Candice says:

    Hello I’m not sure if my question has been addressed before, but I would like to know if there are any mascara brands without carnauba wax. You see, I developed the same exact beeswax sensitization a few months ago, and was incredibly relieved when I found your website. I stopped my Burt’s Bees lip balm and switched to Aquaphor. Majority of rash cleared up for a couple months, but then flared up again out of the blue. Concerned about a petrolatum sensitivity, I switched lip balms again, this time to Lasinoh HPA Lanolin. Still no improvement. I’ve been tracking my diet for possible food reactions, and nothing conclusive. So now my latest lead is when I heard that makeup can contain carnauba wax, specifically mascara. Could it be causing my continued lip rash? I’m going to stop using my cover girl mascara and see what happens. But need to know what alternative products are available without the offending ingredient. Thank you for any info you can provide!

    • Aquaphor Lip Repair has beeswax in it! and lanolin is a common allergen, so I would avoid that, too. Petroleum products have very little allergy risk. Cheap drug store brands of mascara often use paraffin wax instead (synthetic wax). You can find ingredient lists on little tear-off pads somewhere on the cosmetic display if they are not listed directly on each individual product.

    • Aquaphor also contains castor oil which can be an allergen.

  144. Jena says:

    Beginning a year ago- had a fever like blister appear (never had fever blisters before)…
    Was misdiagnosed many many many times that it was HSV (herpes simplex virus) only to find out post lab work, that I was negative.
    Lips got progressively worse– crusty, yellow, dry, inflamed (+ a face rash)
    While waiting for test results, I was mis diagnosed by doctors and was placed on Vatrex, Famcicyclovir, doxycline, prednisone, and the list goes on. (Not at the same time^)
    Went to 3 dermatologists, 1 infectious disease doctor, and 2 allergy doctors
    Spring 2018, post patch test I cut out vasoline, aquaphor, and nivea lip balm
    Thought I had solved it until this summer:
    I am experiencing a week of “normalcy” (despite severe dryness and flakiness on my lips), and then a week of flare ups, little bumps. After reading this article, I think I may have cheilitis of some type.

    Do y’all recommend me using anything?
    I tried Vaseline, and got little bumps. I heard talk of putting olive oil on your lips?

  145. Rona says:

    Thanks for this gorgeous article!

  146. Linda says:

    First of all this is very good information you put together for this article and I thank you very much. I have been searching for this and rashes since November of 2017.

    OK, Hope this isn’t too long. If this is too long please edit.

    Lip problem continues as of this post since November of last year and it’s better now than when this appeared. Doc said it was severe chapped lips and had me put on Hydrocortisone. I also have rash under the bottom lip that is red, peeling and white flakes.

    March of 2018 broke out with a rash on both arms, wrist, neck, back of hands, chin and area by the underarm areas only. The only place on face that is not a rash is forehead, cheeks and nose. Left eye swollen, red, flaking skin around the eye which is the worse, right eye not as bad and looks like psoriasis but it is not. Every time a new rash showed up I marked it down in a calendar on the date it showed up. All summer long I had this rash except for two months during this summer. Stress can cause rashes which I did find doing my searches.

    Forget about wearing makeup because it shows all the flakes through the makeup so I only can wear makeup once or twice a week. I was stressed big time all summer telling this rash to go away and trying to figure out what is causing this. Well, Doctor put me on iron and three weeks later I got this rash so I thought iron caused the rash so I finished first Rx and three weeks later rash went away. Second Rx not so lucky it didn’t go away so I quit taking it but rash still there. I have always been anemic since I was a kid and never had to take iron what so ever until this year. I am also using a Rx cream for rash and itching.

    Dermatologist put me on Prednisone all the rash around eye and on face cleared up in a week, four days later it came back to haunt me again. I’m on the second Rx and it is still there. My stress level is better now than it was during the summer so that is good. Rashes on arms and hands you can barely see right now. Dermatologist did a skin biopsy almost four weeks ago and it came back as a form of eczema. I don’t know what type this is and it’s not just little rashes they are big rashes that covers everything from the back side of elbow, wrist and sides of the arms.

    I decided to start taking the iron again and today is the forth day taking it, time will tell. I do not feel weak and my iron was on the low end, zinc I take this all the time, B, C, D3 and Beta Carotene vitamins plus others. All I can say is don’t be stressed, lift your spirit up and be happy instead of being in a stressed life, that is what I’ve been trying to do. I was so upset in the summer and I am not even thinking about what caused this but, it could be the iron. Most products we use (I) use goes back to 10 plus years. New products same results as our products we’ve been using for years. Nothing I put on my face and and body doesn’t itch me, the rash itches me not my products I use. No face cream itches my face. If you have any rashes that are beet red, flaking skin like I did your face moisture cream will make your skin burn a little, be patient and cleanse face or the area. I had to cleanse areas 3-4 times a day some of the days.

    Thanks everyone!

  147. Yamuna says:

    I am at initial stage today only cold sore at lipedge occurred it’s about lip colour only so try to suggest not to expand that and to cure at that stage only…. Any ointment?? I have applied honey on that at earlymrng that I have seen…

  148. Rebecca says:

    There is so much information here! I am grateful to have stumbled upon this site. I am ordering some of the lip products in hope of some relief and am under the care of a naturopath who just helped me with some food intolerance testing and we are awaiting the results.

    About 7 years ago while life was very stressful I began to have periodic lip swelling. Most people could not notice just by looking at me but I felt it all the time… my lips were tight, swollen, and looked like they were outlined in red. Sometimes the skin would weep around them but there were never any visible sores or blisters. I went to three different doctors to try to discover the cause of this and was given prescriptions for antibiotics and very strong antihistamines (both of which I did not take) but never received an answer. It eventually went away and I didn’t think of it much more.

    Fast forward to today… I’ve had on-going lip issues for the last 4 months. It isn’t constant and usually now is just my upper lip but my symptoms will be awful for a day, then resolve the next, then be awful again. I’ve thrown out all lipsticks, chap sticks, and anything else that I think could be the culprit. Now my lips will swell, burn, and turn red, sometimes weep. The next stage is good, they feel soft but still look a bit irritated. The next day they begin to peel and it feels as though someone has shoved my face into gravel. It’s not that they are chapped but there is a crazy dryness and then thick layers of skin there. I get almost a numb feeling or dead feeling to the part of my lip(s) that is having the issue and it feels like someone put superglue that has dried there. Not sure if this is making any sense and while I am so thankful it is not overly noticeable the feeling is awful to me! I cannot pinpoint a trigger and have been looking for some sort of ointment or chapstick/moisturizer to help. I am also afraid to eat a lot of the time because it seems like the most simple foods can cause this… but then when I back track I am wondering if it is the food or something else. Again, I am waiting for my food sensitivity results to come back. Hope these products help in the meantime.

    • This may be more than a simple allergy or sensitivity. If our external products do not help, I encourage you to consider becoming a patient so I can help you using internal Chinese Herbal Medicine (if you wish). I now offer remote consultations, so I can treat you even if you cannot come to my clinic (as long as you live in the U.S.).

  149. Suzette says:

    Thank you for your extensive blog; it was helpful to learn to avoid citrus oils. I would recommend adding ginger to the list. Over the last year I started having problems with sudden “burned” lips red, peeling, cracking, red around edges and deep crease/wrinkles, it was horrible! I started to correlate that it would happen after I had eaten a lot of ginger. I looked up ginger allergy and learned the whole family of rhizomes can cause dryness. A rash on my leg has also cleared up since I stopped all ginger and turmeric. My skin is also noticeably less flakey/dry. I miss ginger, but I don’t miss the burned lips, rashes and dry skin.
    I’ve been using your RawRedemption herbal lip oil for two days. My lips were mostly healed when I found your blog, but I do feel like it is helping them to stay soft. I want to try a face cream next. Thank you for providing healing products free of harmful chemicals. Thank you for making products that do not contain seed and nut oils which are high in arginine and aggravate herpes coldsore outbreaks.

  150. Elle says:

    Hi, so two days ago I woke up one morning and I had tiny bumps on my lips. You couldn’t see them unless I looked up and the light showed them. The next day I had a lot more of them on the side of my lips. They burned and itched but I was able to talk and eat without it hurting. I woke up this morning and my lips were really dry, they were stuck together. It was painful getting them separated and I had something yellow over the side of my lips where all the tiny bumps were. I got cold blisters medicine thing and now it hurts to eat. If my lips stay closed, they would stick together. It’s also burning and itching like crazy and the right side of my lips are starting to form more bumps too. I’ve always used the same chapstick without any problems and i’m not allergic to anything. I’m worried that tomorrow they will look and feel a lot worse than today.

  151. Jan says:

    I have a rash at the corners of my mouth & suspect Cheilitis and have caught myself drooling when sleeping on my side. How is a person to prevent that is the only solution to sleep on your back?

  152. Donna says:

    Hi, I came across your site when researching what is possibly wrong with my lips. For the past two years I have struggled with tiny spots which spread all over the lip area but does not go beyond the lip edge (so far..). Initially I was treated for cold sores which I used to have in the past but they did not respond as such just burn swell more and make the bumps spread. They would then look like tiny blisters which would join but once they weep slightly would just dry my lips and peel as dry skin. Do not the normal order of a cold sore. I have taken aciclovir orally but it does not do anything. My doctor tried allergy tablets which didn’t seem to stop the process from happening although would reduce the time of a severe reaction. This would look like I had cold sores co wrong the whole of my lip area. I cut out all fluoride products, make up, lip balms etc. I have tried a number of natural high quality essential oils but they also burn. I have tried different natural lip products but they all burn and cause severe reaction. My lips are now hypersensitive to all sorts, including the sun, the cold, sun lipscreen, mouthwash, mint, mango, citrus. My dermatologist had no clue. The problem is is that a lot of time if I’m not reacting severely it is hard to see that I have a problem. Although I can definitely feel that there is something wrong with my lips as the burning, sensitivity is there as well as it feeling like there are lumps underneath the skin if I read my lips together. I managed to get in to see him recently when I was healing from a bad reaction a hypoallergenic lip sunscreen and finally he is sending me to have an allergy test (although I have been told the waiting list is 4 months). I am now scared to try anything. Would you recommend any natural moisturisers I.e olive oil or coconut to moisturise. I have been using Vaseline but now it has started to slightly sting when I apply so I think I have started to react to this. It is really starting to get me down as I have only had a total of 4 moths free of issues in the last two years and cannot kiss my husband or kids, share drinks or even the toothbrush holder as I don’t know what exactly is wrong (not even sure if it is allergies or extreme version of cold sores (though in research I have not come across someone suffering with recurring isssue for 10 months straight). Please could you advise. I am in the UK

    • I am sorry you are dealing with this issue. It clearly is affecting multiple aspects of your life. I cannot offer advice here…it could be any number of possible conditions. I would recommend you contact – – that is my dermatology teacher’s clinic in Hove, UK. Perhaps they can see you for an assessment. If not, email me and I can see if I can help you.

      • Yi Ling says:

        Hi to both Donna and Zi Zai Dermatology,

        I’d like to share with you my personal experience with contact dermatitis on my lips (which I was diagnosed as by my dermatologist).

        On Mid-October 2017, my lips started to form tiny spots on the middle of my upper lip and will dry up and start to peel. It doesn’t bother me too much at that time as I was still busy studying and I thought it would just go away after drinking more water.

        But no, it slowly spread to the entire upper lip and was extremely dry and chapped. I had been drinking more than 4 litres of water everyday. On January 2018, I went to see the dermatologist and he prescribed me Dermasone 0.025% cream (it’s basically steroid as he said so himself) and Dermalin White Soft Paraffin. I used it for a few weeks, and it works fine. Fewer tiny spots and lip seems moist and fine. However, I noticed that the dryness gradually spread to the lower lip after bathing or cleaning my mouth after eating. I naturally went to get the steroid cream and paraffin to prevent it from losing its moisture. The more I apply, the cycle of dryness repeats itself.

        My lips lost its ability to rehydrate, it became more red and sensitive to touch. I bought all kinds of lip balm, even the ones from Zi Zai Dermatology, nothing works. Whenever the wind blows, the heat from the sun, drinking hot water, applying lip balm (stick type), or just ANYTHING that touches my lips, hurt. It made me really depressed at that point of time. I had no appetite to eat or drink or even talk. The condition of my lips during this period had two stages: 1. Extremely dry, difficult to open my mouth to eat or even smile. 2. After contacting with water, it would flare up and stings. When that happens, I always had to use a clean cloth or tissue to tap it dry. The pain was unbearable.

        It went on for more than a year until a friend of mine recommended me to visit a TCM doctor for help. So I went to see this TCM doctor a month ago (I’m still seeing her as I’m typing this), she prescribed me herbal medicine and advised me to avoid fried foods, heaty foods such as chocolate, biscuits and potato chips and also spicy foods. I listened, continued consuming her medicine and avoided those foods mentioned. I was desperate but patient at the same time lol. Even though the healing process was slow, the redness and the painful stinging on my lips were almost gone. It is still a bit dry and flaky, but I can stretch my mouth, I can eat without being in tears and pain, I can SMILE.

        I did asked her about my lip condition and she told me that it wasn’t an allergy that caused my lips to flare up. It was due to my digestive system; I had consumed too much heaty foods to the point where my body can’t handle it and it flared up on my lips. Applying any type of lip balms doesn’t work as it was an internal problem not external.

        I’m still undergoing her treatment and maintaining my diet as of now. I’m so happy that my lips are now back to normal and I’m able to continue my daily life without any discomfort. I hope that my experience can help you or anyone suffering from this condition.

        Info/Tips: if lip balms or moisturisers don’t work, please avoid anything that contains fragrance or perfume or menthol. Change your toothpastes to the ones that are sodium lauryl sulfate-free (no SLS/SLS-free). I also have read a post on Facebook, a lady suffered from angular cheilitis changed her BPA-free plastic bottle to glass bottle worked for her. (Link:

        What I have mentioned above may not work for everyone. I have tested them out myself and some worked and some don’t. I would advise you to see a doctor for any serious condition.

        Thank you for taking your time to read. I wish everyone good health!

        Also, thank you Zi Zai Dermatology for making products that healed a lot people. Please continue the good work!

        – From Singapore.

        • Wonderful that TCM was able to help your condition!! I get MANY requests for a TCM practitioner to recommend in Singapore but I do not personally know anyone. Would you kindly tell us the name of the practitioner you have been seeing who helped you with this lip condition? I would be grateful as would many of our readers.

        • Lauren says:

          Omg maybe it’s possible that I have the same thing happen to me. I rememeber when I was younger I use to eat chili dogs all the time and weirdly I’d have boils that came on my body. I was so confused as to why that happen and literally after I stopped eating chili dogs it stopped happening. It’s been a long time since I incorporated vegetables in my diet, I’m use to eating a lot of meat. Especially pork and steak. Is it possible that maybe that is what is causing my lips to have small bumps that tingle? I’ll do anything to get rid of this feeling.

  153. Lauren says:

    So a couple of months ago I experienced something with my lips. It initially started as a small bump on the bottom rim of my lip. It was itchy and I just figured that it was a regular pimple and would go away. Days later it spread to my actual lip where I had 2 bumps that really burned and tingled. This never happened to me. Of course being scared I went to the emergency room to get checked out which they said that I had oral herpes HSV. That it could have been due to kissing or the sort. I was given valtrex to solve the problem. They said that I had a cold sore/fever blister so I also thought that maybe abreva would help so I put those on the bumps. I finished taking the valtrex medication but i just had the bump spread more. I kept using the abreva because it would soothe the burning. I kept looking online at pictures of how cold sores and fever blisters look but my bumps never looked like that. They never oozed or busted or crusted. I literally have gone to the doctor over 5 times within 3 months and they believe I’m crazy, saying that they don’t see anything. I’m not crazy because I can literally feel the tingly sensation of my lips. I’ve gotten tested for stds which came back negative. I’m literally losing my mind, and becoming very depressed. I feel like I can’t even have a romantic life because I’m afraid it’ll come back and I won’t be able to kiss.

    Reading everyone else’s story, I feel like mine is similar to someone’s in it not being herpes at all and being misdiagnosed. I really need help because it’s coming to the point where I feel like what’s the point of living. I’ve never had this happen and idk what to do. At one point I even used hydrogen peroxide to try to help but that just made tiny white bumps. When I went to the doctor they gave me petroleum and when I put that on my lips it just made the bumps worse. I don’t want to keep living like this. Maybe it’s the lipgloss that I’ve used. I live in the Chicago area I really need help! I’m literally scared to kiss do anything to be honest.

  154. Clare says:


    I really loved your article and am looking at every product in my house now that contains these things. I’ve had a rash around my mouth for the last month that doesn’t seem to be going away. It aggravates my lips as well and I just can’t seem to keep them moisturizer. There’s also weeping around my mouth with the rash and it’s golden crusted. There have been days that it clears up a bit but overall no progress. I’ve tried coconut oil, jojoba oil, and now I’m just using Vaseline on my lips. I’ve been leaving the rash alone because nothing seems to be helping. I’d love to give the lip ointment a try that you suggested but I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on hydrocortisone cream? Will that end up making things worse. I’m looking for somewhat of a quick relief as each day doesn’t seem to be getting better now for the past week. I don’t know if the orange oozing is a sign of infection but my lips also are very swollen and scaly. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thank you!

    • Keep in mind I cannot offer medical advice here, so take my words as educational only. I never allow my patients to use steroid creams on the lips or around the mouth. If there is golden crusting (sign of bacterial or viral infection), cortisone creams will make it worse because they will suppress the body’s ability to fight the infection. I suggest trying our CSFreedom Herbal Lip Oil. It was designed for people with cold sores (a viral infection) but works well to subdue other infections.

  155. Katherine says:

    I’ve been dealing with a rash that occurs on the edges of my lips. I’ve stopped using makeup, nail polish, fluoride toothpaste, wearing jewelry, I eat with plastic ware or real silver. I’ve been treated for perioral dermatitis twice and I’m still getting the rash. The only thing that helps is a steroid cream but when I stop using the rash returns. I use all free and clear products and I even use a barrier cream. Any ideas on what to try next. Could it be diet related? Help!

  156. Cherie says:

    Thanks for the info and list of allergens. I have had occasional outbreaks, usually lasting about a week, since I was a teenager (burning, weeping, swelling). While it still happens once in a while, I find that it is an allergy to sodium lauryl sulfate that is the worst trigger. Meaning I would wash my hands with a typical liquid hand soap and then my lips would break out the next day. I eliminated everything that foams to get rid of those chemical foaming agents. Except actual soap, which is fine. I wash my dishes with Dr Bronners soap and make my own tooth paste and shampoo. It’s tough! But seems to help keep the break outs down. I can’t account for the recent outbreak so I’m questioning lipsticks I’ve used, and a new vitamin supplement. Benadryl and quercetin seem to help a little too to speed the healing. Sorry to everyone is going through these things. Knowing I’m not the only one kind of helps, although I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

  157. Yoli Saghafi says:

    Acyclovir helps me. Also palmers Shea butter chap stick.

  158. Christiana says:

    I have this reoccurring boils just as small as pimples that do itches alot and the frequent scratching causes black spots all over my skin.
    Have tried taking drugs but once I stop the medication it won’t be long to appear again. A doctor once told me that my mom’s didn’t wash her womb before conceiving that’s why am experiencing this. Sometimes it’s so bad that I can’t go out cos all my body will be full of this freaking boils and injuries as a rest of constant scratching.
    Any natural redemy to ease this or advice on how best to handle this

    • I cannot diagnose you through the internet. But I can tell you that your mom “not washing her womb” has nothing to do with what you are dealing with now. I am sorry you are suffering and I wish I could help. Where do you live? Perhaps I have a colleague near you who can assist you with Chinese Medicine.

  159. Ely says:

    I am having cheilitis because of eating corn cobs. We are farmers and everytime it’s the season of the corn cobs, I always get cracked sore, cracked lips that feels painful when stretched. I know it’s caused by corn because it always happens during season of eating young corns. It can be because of the constant rubbing of the lips to the corn cob. Gosh it’s painful.

  160. Angie says:

    This article has been a lifesaver!!! For almost a year I’ve been suffering from what I now know is allergic Chelitis. Last October, I spontaneously broke out with the most painful chapped lips. They were red, swollen, tingling, extremely dry, itchy, oozy., then would crust over.. I thought I had herpes and was mortified. All the rabbit holes ones mind goes down in that situation! I used to use burts bees honey lip balm which I stopped using shortly after breaking out because it wasn’t helping and seemed to make it worse (now I know why!) but At the time didn’t know why something is been using for years would be contributing. Now looking back there were signs of irritation and red raised itchy bumps on my lips. I’ve been suffering with this cycle of pain, heat, and dryness and the only thing that gave me any relief was Aquaphor advanced therapy healing ointment but it never made it go away. It’s also not very attractive pulling out a big old tube of ointment and walking around with greasy red lips. It wasn’t until, 11 mos later, I read your article and saw that unfiltered honey contains propolis and can cause allergic chelitis. The lights came on…I’d been eating unfiltered honey frequently over the past year and had actually just had a bad reaction again a few days ago which sent me searching the internet for answers (Found your article) and I remembered that I had eaten unfiltered honey that day! Thank you!!! Without your article I could’ve been searching for answers for years!!! I’m going to be purchasing both products recommended in the article and I can wait to have relief and normal lips again!!

  161. Jake says:

    Have you figured out your issue yet? I have the same as you except my lips don’t even peel anymore. It got to the point where my bottom lip is red all the time and sometimes peels but usually I just get dead skin falling off while drinking or eating.

  162. James says:

    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.

  163. musicbox says:

    Wow it’s great to see this all laid out so well after I spent the last couple of years going through trial and error with my lip ailments. Thank you!

    Thought I’d share because I haven’t seen anyone mention suspected contributing effects of hormones. Out of nowhere I started getting allergic cheilitis which entailed burning, swelling, a rash on the outer border of the lips, grainy texture to the lips, and the painful cuts at the corners of the mouth once the swelling went down. When this first started, I got this condition on the exact same day of my period cycle every month (was on a standard generic birth control pill at this time). I was convinced it was some type of estrogen allergy or hormonal imbalance because there was a clear link to my cycle and I was totally fine for the rest of the month. The outbreak always started 10 days before my period and lasted about a week. I didn’t do anything differently leading up to this time period with skin care/food consumption/household products compared to the rest of the month.

    My general practitioner, OB/GYN, dermatologist, and an immunologist couldn’t help, but a patch test told me I’m allergic to 3-4 of the common allergens listed above. That’s all the allergist could tell me, no explanation as to regularity of the timing. I replaced all of my hygiene and household products to go allergen-free and changed my diet but still got the outbreak. I asked to switch to a low estrogen birth control to see if that made a difference (and I still suspected I had a sensitivity). The outbreaks went away for awhile and I was overjoyed!

    Unfortunately, they came back after about 6 months only after I moved to a desert climate. But to a *much* lesser degree, no longer every month, and not on the same day of the cycle (but generally in the same 1-2 week window). I believe my hydration/saliva levels are affected by my hormonal cycle/estrogen level and being dried out makes me way more likely to have a reaction to the allergens that have more mild effects otherwise. I had noticed occasional dry mouth over the years before I ever got an outbreak but never made the link.

    Switching the pill, making a concerted effort to stay hydrated, and trying to curb sleeping with my open have worked for me. I can still have contact with the allergens (though have kept allergen-free products where it doesn’t really bother me to do so) and only get the occasional more mild outbreak now. Hoping this can help someone out there if they’ve noticed similar patterns! Thanks again for compiling this resource!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience!! While I have not yet seen this pattern in my clinic, surely someone else has had this same issue. I hope they write in also. This is fascinating. I am going to keep your experience in mind as I see more cases of cheilitis in my clinic.

  164. Emina Aljic says:

    Over the last 5 years I have had little red bumps show up on my lips. They almost appear to be small blisters. My lips get slightly red and somewhat swollen. Very uncomfortable. Previously been prescribed valtrex which does not help. Dr believed it was a cold sore. Last had a breakout October 22nd 2020 and now again. I don’t remember using a new product in October but recently purchased a rose vegan lip balm and now I am having this reaction. I am trying to relate it to an ingredient and see castor oil in it. Hoping for some help and relief. I am in Virginia. Thank you.

  165. I’m not that much of an internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back down the road.

  166. Pam Roberts says:

    For the past maybe 3 weeks I feel as if I burned my lips in the sun…but don’t think I did. Blisters, burning, redness and swelling. Nothing in my life has really changed…I’m wondering if it could be an allergic reaction to my second Moderna Covid vaccine? It started about 2 weeks after my second shot. Anyone else feel there could be a link to the Moderna vaccine? I’ve never had lip fillers or anything…very healthy “natural” 60 yr. old woman. This is so uncomfortable!

    • Gosh, that is totally possible. Sometimes the vaccine (ANY vaccine) can trigger a reemergence of HSV (herpes infection). Have you ever had cold sores before? Is it your entire upper and bottom lip or just a section? It could easily be something else and the timing makes it logical to correlate it to the vaccine, but we have to consider other triggers. This is a very interesting discussion and I am glad you started it here, though I am sorry for your suffering right now. Most vaccine-induced side effects resolve on their own in 2 to 6 weeks. So if it is from that, it should go away. If it get worse or doesn’t resolve or becomes recurrent (comes and goes), then we need to look elsewhere for the culprit. I am happy to keep this discussion going, so please update us. I wish you could upload photos. You can always email them to me (with description that you were the one posting on our blog, so I know what case we are discussing). If you wish to share photos (for educational purposes here), email me (Diana) at

  167. Kaitlyn K says:

    Hey everyone! I’m not usually much of a commenter, but after obsessing over this blog and others like it, I wanted to thank everyone and especially Diana for their comments and information. Sorry this is a very long comment, but I wanted to share my experience so far with this.

    I have been struggling with an off and on lip rash for the last six months or so, and it is so frustrating! It is very embarrassing, and although my boyfriend tells me that he doesn’t care, having a rash on your face kills your self confidence!

    After pouring over blogs, and articles, and posts for months, a couple doctor visits, and stress, I think I have come to realize that my rash is also triggered by a sensitivity to a product, or food.
    In November, I got really bad windburn on my face one day, and my lips were awfully red and sore. I figured it would go away, but my lips have been very sensitive, irritated, and sore ever since.

    After a couple months I went to see my local doctor and he gave me Viaderm KC cream. It is an antibacterial, anti fungal, and anti-inflammatory. I used it for a while and it cured my lip rash right up, so I discontinued use. But a couple weeks later, the rash came back.

    I have used the steroid cream off and on since then, until I discovered it was only a temporary solution and not a permanent fix. The rash just kept coming back, and worse. I lived with it for a while. Applied lots of coconut oil and Vaseline, but still no use. It was red all around my lips, raw, sometimes peeling, and the urge to pick at the flakes was sometimes too much to ignore.

    I was stuck in this horrible cycle of itchy, red, irritated lips. I was fed up, and now that I was living somewhere else, went to see a different doctor. He recommended I wash my face twice daily, and apply La Roche Posay moisturizer (to my lips). I tried it for a couple weeks, but after the rash got worse, the lotion burned and I didn’t want to use it. I’ve read that if your skin has an adverse reaction to something you put on it, that it’s definitely not a good sign.

    So I quit that, I got desperate enough that I tried the Viaderm KC cream again, even though I knew that the steroid wasn’t the answer. It burned.. Badly. And I haven’t looked at the tube since. After reading your blog (a few dozen times) and going through the comments, I am now convinced that my lip rash is an allergic contact dermatitis.

    As of a couple days ago, I have discontinued the use of anything on my lips, except for the occasional bout of pure olive oil if I cannot stand the dryness. I also think that the gum I was constantly chewing, had something in it that was irritating my skin. I discontinued that. I have also stopped putting any sort of water enhancer, or flavouring in my water, and gone to fluoride free toothpaste.

    This morning I woke up and the redness around my lips had gone down quite a bit, although they were still super flaky and peeling very dramatically. I put on a bit of olive oil, and I drank a small cup of coffee with creamer. As I started to drink the coffee, my lips started to itch a bit, and when I looked in the mirror they were more red then they were when I had woken up this morning.

    I am not sure if this was a slight reaction to the creamer, or if it is normal for your lips to get more red as you wake up? But one thing I have noticed, is that chewing gum, and the creamer, have three things in common. Sugar, and natural and artificial flavour. I am not positive if these are triggers yet, but I am trying to avoid them nonetheless.

    I have been drinking lots of water, and will continue experimenting with some foods to try and find what some triggers are. After the lunch I had today, I am wondering if gluten is a trigger as well. I had a sub from Subway, and my lips were pretty red afterwards.

    I don’t use any lip chap anymore, or any sort of lotion next to my lips because sometimes it will burn and it never seems to help. And I went and bought more allergy medication as I quit taking it a couple months ago. I have a cat, and I am slightly allergic to him, plus seasonal allergies.

    I have arranged another appointment with my Dr. But I won’t be able to get in for another couple of weeks. I plan to ask him to refer me to a dermatologist. In the time until then, I’ve taken many pictures to show, and am trying to find, and avoid, any triggers that I have.

    One of my questions for you is, is it normal for your lips to be super flaky and peeling after you have discontinued the use of anything on your lips? I think they have gotten less red over the last couple days. Is this what it was like for you?

    Can you just go cold turkey and your lips will heal? Or is that impossible?

    I am prepared to wait it out and see how my lips and the rash progress over the next few days. It seems when I wake up in the morning, there is always some little improvement as I haven’t used anything during the night, but then during the day, I use something, or consume something that makes them red again.

    I have also ordered some products from your website, and am patiently waiting for their arrival. I’ve only heard good things, so I’m hopeful they will help me as well. Thanks so very much for this information. I’m glad that I’m not the only one with this issue (as it sometimes feels like it). Thanks again. And to everyone struggling with this issue, and the stress that comes with it. Just know that it’s going to be okay, and that you’re not alone :).

    • Thank you for sharing! Yes, it is typical for lips to feel tight, dry and having scaling (flaking) after they have been inflamed. This can take a couple of weeks to heal (but hopefully less time). Theoretically, you can go cold turkey and lips will heal. The problem is that your environment may be an aggravating issue if you apply nothin to protect your lips – if you live in a very dry or windy or sunny region (like Colorado, where I live). But if you live in a more humid area, this may not be much of a concern. You mentioned that your lips felt itchy after drinking coffee that one day – could have been due to the olive oil instead. Try avocado oil or sunflower oil or safflower oil (but NOT the high OLEIC version often sold in grocery stores) instead next time. Hopefully our lip products will help you – keep the rest of our readers updated on your case, if you don’t mind commenting here again. My only concern for you is that exfoliative cheilitis may be developing here – often an allergic reaction or recurrent inflammatory reaction to an irritant can trigger exfoliative cheilitis (where the skin of the lips builds up and then flakes off in repeated cycles). Hopefully you just have contact dermatitis and nothing more. I wish you speedy healing!!

  168. Dom F says:

    I’ve been dealing with a similar issue for the past 6-7 months. I’ve spent way too much time researching every possible condition, yet nothing seems to match; but some of these comments are by far the closest I’ve seen yet. In Mid Dec 2020 I got normal chapped lips (never had chapped lip issues in past), so I started using EOS chapstick which didn’t help (maybe even made it worse). After a week or two of the EOS I started trying different products; Vaseline, aquaphor, natural trauma balm, coconut oil, all which helped somewhat but were just barely managing the irritation/flaking. At this point its turned into a irritated/slightly swollen upper lip around the vermilion border, but only in the center right below my nose (and flaky chapped but only in center of upper lip). I try changing/limiting all facial products, toothpaste, anything that touches my lip, but nothing helps. The first Doc I see prescribes hydrocortisone cream which almost completely heals the swelling, but it just comes back within days of stopping. The next dermatologist suggests Alclometasone Dipropionate which has the same effect. Next I do 6 weeks of doxycycline which has no effect whatsoever. I’ve ruled out vitamin deficiencies/digestive factors and autoimmune components. And just in the past week or two it feels as if my bottom lip is getting irritated as well. As of now the alclometasone manages the irritation and swelling, but its clearly not the long term solution. I also tried stopping all products but after about a week the irritation and swelling was too much. Nobody seems to know what to do or what caused this, its such a random but frustrating issue; it really sucks. Hoping for any suggestions/insight you or anyone might have.

    • kai says:

      I cannot find any answers and was given by the dermatologist triamcinolone acetonide ointment for my lips..which react to something with a bunch of tiny watery bumps (rash) that dries and sloughs off over a couple of days. Coconut oil gives me relief and is one of the few things to which I am not allergic – yet. One allergist said I had angioedema or he had no idea bc it did not seem to fit any patterns. My current allergist says it is cheilosis – (and my bloodwork showed no vitamin or other deficiencies) also, my allergy blood tests and skin pricks with allergist showed nothing. The dermatologist chemical test found allergies to cobalt (strong reaction) and to fragrance-mixed (includes stuff like cinnamon). My PCP had diagnosed it a couple of years ago as angular cheilitis and the meds ( ointments) worked and it did bit reappear for a year until May 2020 and still have not identified the culprit. Changed toothpaste mouthwash soap cream (use CeraVe but no lotions) changed diet…still happens occasionally. Still puzzled. WIshing us well.

      • Vesicles (those watery bumps) are not typically a feature of angular (at the corners) cheilitis (lip inflammation). How often do you experience the eruption of the vesicles?

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