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Lip Swelling : Causes and Treatments

by Rashi Bahel Mehra |

Have you ever woken up to a swollen lip? A bulge appearing on your lips all of a sudden overnight can be irritating as well as disturbing!

So let us understand what is lip swelling, what are the underlying causes behind it, and how can you treat swollen lips!


What is Lip Swelling?

Enlargement of a certain part of the lip due to irritation, inflammation, fluid buildup under your lip skin, or any allergic reaction is associated with lip swelling. 

The causes may range from mild irritation caused by dry and chapped lips to life-threatening diseases, let us comprehend them bit by bit so that it's more comfortable for you to associate with and identify them!


Causes of Lip Swelling: 

Swelling can be chronic or acute depending on its severity and the causes behind it! Lips can swell due to:


  • Prolonged Dry and Chapped Lip Infection  

    If your lips are severely dry or chapped, it can result in bleeding or even infection on your lips which might in turn cause lip swelling. Always ensure to apply a deeply hydrating lip balm or lip moisturizer that contains actives and exotic butters to protect your lips!

    Dry & Chapped Lips 

  • Allergies

    Your body produces a chemical called histamine when it comes in contact with an allergen. The discharge of histamine can cause sneezing, itchy skin, and inflammation. This inflammation may drive swollen lips. There are numerous allergies for example:


    Allergies to Environmental Aggressors 

    Environmental aggressors or free radicals can cause lips to swell for example-pollen, mold spores, dust, and pet dander.


    Food allergies

    You might be allergic to many edible ingredients which you may be unaware of mostly eggs, nuts, dairy, and shellfish are the common triggers but the list goes on! Maintain a meal diary and note any allergy signs this can help you narrow down which food you are allergic to!

    Other allergies include insect bites, rashes, cold sores, etc.

    Swollen Lips Causes

    Fungal Infections 

     A fungus may be residing under your tissue and you might be completely unaware of it, fungal infections are the most common reasons behind a swollen lip and this may increase other areas or might spread from other areas of your body to your lips if not controlled! 

    Lip Swelling Causes

     Medication Side effects 

    Your drugs might be causing swollen lips, many medications have their common side effects and one of them includes swelling. Consult your doctor if you encounter this problem!

     A woman swallowing a pill

    Cold Sores on Lips:

    They are caused by herpes simplex viruses HSV-1 and HSV-2. They are contagious and spread through direct contact. Most susceptible are sexually active young adults, though anyone can get infected. The virus can stay on towels, glasses, utensils, etc as well!

    Cold Sores on Lips

    Symptoms include a tingling or burning sensation around the lips, nose, or cheeks a day or so, fever, and sore throat before the blisters appear. The blisters usually cure within two to four weeks. It is best advised to consult a doctor.


    Rare conditions that cause swollen lips:

    These are some of the rare health conditions that cause lips to swell- 


  • Angioedema:

    It is a temporary state that induces swelling deep under your skin. The swelling can affect any part of your body, but it’s most typical in your lips or eyes. It is best suited to consult a doctor if you experience deep in-built swelling! It’s treated with antihistamines, corticosteroids, or epinephrine injections.


  • Cheilitis Glandularis:

    It is an inflammatory condition that only affects the lips and it’s most common in men. Physicians aren’t certain what causes it, but it seems to be associated with sun exposure, lip injuries, and smoking. This usually needs to be treated with antibiotics or corticosteroids.


  • Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome:

    The main symptom of MRS is swollen lips. It is rare and likely genetic. It does not happen to everyone frequently!


  • Cheilitis granulomatous:

    Also called  Miescher cheilitis, is another possible cause of swollen lips. It’s a rare inflammatory condition that causes lumpy swelling in your lips.


  • Anaphylaxis:

    It is an excruciating allergic reaction that causes swollen lips, it might make your immune system fill your body with chemicals and fluids that might induce shock! You must consult a doctor if you have other symptoms like- a rapid pulse, low blood pressure, swollen tongue, and throat, or fainting!

    Many times only one of your lips will swell due to the reasons mentioned above this causes either lower or upper lip swelling and the most prominent reason for having upper or lower lip swelling is an allergic reaction 


    How to treat Swollen Lips? 


    How long does a swollen lip prevail? The healing process can vary from a few days to a few weeks depending on the severity of the lip sore. So how do you go about treating them?


  • Home Remedies

    Applying ice wrapped in a towel can often reduce inflammation. Never apply ice directly to the bare skin, as this may cause further damage. 

    When you experience extreme dryness or cracking coat your lips with a mild moisturizing lip balm. You can try butter-induced lip masks which contain deeply nourishing properties and lip-friendly actives.

    Always ensure to Protect your lips from the sun when they are swollen.

    Always try to identify and cut off if any food you’re having is causing you harm and might be causing an allergy.

    Lip Swelling Treatment

  • Treatment

    Medical treatments differ according to the reasons and severity of the swelling! If you have swelling because of angioedema, epinephrine is usually advised. 

    If an inflammatory condition is causing the swelling, your doctor may recommend an anti-inflammatory drug that does not contain steroids (NSAIDs) or a corticosteroid to reduce the swelling.

    A woman getting lip fillers done

    When to consult a doctor? 

    Although most cases of swollen lips do not require emergency care, and will often go away on their own within a few days. But it is advised to anyone with swollen lips to see a doctor it is serious when you start to experience symptoms like:

    • Raised blood pressure 
    • Fainting
    • Vomiting Sensation 
    • Burning sensation 
    • Prolonged Fatigue 
    • Swollen Throat 
    • Low Blood Pressure


     Prevention is better than cure when it comes to most aspects of your life and the same goes with lip care. Although you cannot prevent medical conditions you can surely prevent allergies related to food by maintaining a food diary, You can surely prevent dry lips by maintaining a proper lip care regimen and by having a healthy lifestyle and everything will fall into its place! If you have severely swollen lips it is best to consult a doctor to have early treatments and prevent further damage! 

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