Read below about lip rash, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your lip rash from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Lip Rash Symptoms

Having a lip rash is frustrating, since it is readily visible to other people and difficult to cover up. The lip rash may also be painful, interfering with activities like eating and drinking, and the surrounding skin or inside of the mouth may be involved as well. There are many possible causes, and it is common to experience a lip rash at some point. Most of the time the cause of the lip rash can be treated fairly easily. However, some causes are likely to recur in the future. [3,5]

Symptoms that can be associated with a lip rash include: ### [3,5,6]

Lip Rash Causes Overview

Infectious Lip Rash Causes

  • Viral infection : Hand-foot-and-mouth disease and herpes simplex are examples of viral infections that can affect the lips. Both of these cause small blisters that may be painful. In the case of herpes virus, the infection is chronic and may lead to recurrent outbreaks of blisters. [1,2]
  • Bacterial or fungal infection : An infection of the corners of the lips, (cheilitis or angular stomatitis) which can be bacterial or fungal, can cause painful cracks in the skin along with crusting and scaling. One type of bacterial infection (impetigo) is most common in children and classically causes crusty yellow patches on or around the lips. [2,3,4]
  • Sexually transmitted infection : Syphilis can cause an ulcer on the lip. Depending on the stage of infection, the lip rash may or may not be painful, and a rash on other parts of the body can be present. [4]

Irritant Related Lip Rash Causes

  • Dryness : Children who lick their lips excessively can develop a characteristic rash around the lips. Similarly, irritation from cold dry weather can cause the lips to become chapped. [3]
  • Allergen : Exposure to an allergen such as in lipstick or foods can cause redness and cracking of the lips. [4]

Systemic conditions

  • Drug reactions : Some types of severe systemic reactions to medications can cause a widespread rash that often involves the lips. [4]
  • Vitamin deficiency : Lack of certain vitamins in the diet or medical conditions that prevent absorption of these vitamins can cause oral symptoms including cracking at the lip corners and mouth ulcers. [4]
  • Kawasaki disease : A rare disease occurring in children, this serious condition causes lip redness and cracking along with high fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash on the trunk. [6]

Cancer

Rarely, a lip rash could be cancerous. Skin cancer of the lip typically occurs on the lower lip and presents as a non-healing blister or ulcer. Bleeding and growth over time may occur. [6]

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Lip Rash

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced lip rash. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Non - Specific Skin Rash

    A rash is an area of irritated or swollen skin. Often, rashes are unidentifiable and some variation of normal. For example, scratching one's arm causes it to turn red (which is caused by mast cells releasing chemicals into the local area), but that's completely normal.

    1-2 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    rash
    Symptoms that always occur with non-specific skin rash:
    rash
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch
  2. 2.Non - Specific Dermatitis (Skin Inflammation)

    Dermatitis is the inflammation ("-itis") of the skin ("derma" is a layer of the skin). It can be caused by any number of causes, from allergies to infections to autoimmune issues. Dermatitis of Normal Variation (also called, "NOS") means that all of those other causes of your rash have been ruled out. This is very common.

    1-2 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    red rash, itchy rash, painful rash
    Symptoms that always occur with non-specific dermatitis (skin inflammation):
    red rash
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

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  3. 3.Irritant Contact Dermatitis

    Contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes red, sore, or inflamed after direct contact with a substance. This condition most often affects skin of the hands, and may occur after repeated and prolonged exposure to substances such as water, detergents (soaps, bleach), solvents (such as gasoline), acids, powders, dust, and soil. The onset of the skin reaction is usually within 48 hours of coming in contact with the substance.

    1-2 days.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    rash with well-defined border, itchy rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin, painful rash, red rash
    Symptoms that always occur with irritant contact dermatitis:
    rash with well-defined border
    Symptoms that never occur with irritant contact dermatitis:
    fever, black-colored skin changes, brown-colored skin changes, blue-colored skin changes
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  4. 4.Pityriasis Rosea

    Pityriasis rosea is a common skin condition with no known cause. It is not contagious and does not usually lead to any dangerous complications. It most often appears as a larger "mother" patch which comes first, surrounded by smaller "daughter" patches which appear soon after.

    Pityriasis Rosea will go away on its own within 2-8 weeks

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    rash, itchy rash, curved rash, rough patch with red spots around it
    Symptoms that always occur with pityriasis rosea:
    rash
    Symptoms that never occur with pityriasis rosea:
    blue-colored skin changes, black-colored skin changes, brown-colored skin changes
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  5. 5.Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

    Eczema is a form of skin inflammation that causes skin to be dry, itchy, red, and irritated.

    This is a long-term, recurring condition but symptoms are manageable with care.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    trouble sleeping, feeling itchy or tingling all over, dry skin, scalp itchiness, flexor surface rash
    Symptoms that never occur with eczema (atopic dermatitis):
    fever
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit

Lip Rash Treatments and Relief

Most causes of lip rash do not require urgent evaluation. However, the presence of other symptoms may indicate that the lip rash is due to a severe medical condition such as a drug reaction. [2,3]

Seek emergency treatment if the following signs if:

  • You have systemic symptoms like fever and fatigue. [2]
  • You have a rapidly developing rash over other parts of the body. [4]
  • You have large areas of skin peeling off. [4]
  • You are concerned about a child who has had fever for several days, swollen lymph nodes, or a rash on the hands in addition to the lips. [8]

In some cases, even though emergency lip rash treatment isn't necessary, you may need medical evaluation and treatment. Make an appointment with your medical provider if:

  • You have a lip rash that persists or grows over time. [3]
  • The lip rash is causing significant pain or itching. [9]
  • The rash keeps going away but then recurring. [9]
  • You have had sexual contact with someone who may have syphilis. [4]
  • You also have a rash on other parts of the face. [2,4]
  • You or a child with a lip rash have had contact with someone known to have impetigo. [2]

Your medical provider may prescribe one or more of the following treatments, depending on the cause of your lip rash symptoms:

  • Antibiotic or antifungal ointment to treat infection. [9]
  • Although herpes infection typically resolves on its own, you may be prescribed an antiviral medication as a preventative measure if you are suffering from frequent outbreaks. [10]
  • Vitamin supplementation or treatment for a condition preventing vitamin absorption if a nutritional deficiency is the cause. [4]
  • Penicillin to treat syphilis. [4]

Some home treatments may help with a lip rash.

  • To prevent a rash associated with dryness, avoid licking your lips and cover the lips when outdoors in cold weather. [3]
  • Avoid applying lipsticks and other fragranced products to the lips. Use plain balms containing beeswax or petroleum instead. [3]
  • If the rash is painful, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen can help. [4]

FAQs About Lip Rash

Here are some frequently asked questions about lip rash.

What's the difference between a lip rash and a cold sore?

A rash around the mouth can be caused by a number of conditions. Cold sores are one example of a lip rash caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV). Other examples include impetigo — a bacterial infection characterized by honey-crusted lesions and thrush — a yeast infection in the mouth that can extend to the lips. [2,4]

Does a lip rash mean I have an STD?

Not necessarily. Cold sores are one type of lip rash caused by HSV, which can be transmitted through sexual contact or through sharing saliva. These HSV infections are most contagious when there are visible sores. Other causes of lip rash such as impetigo and thrush are not transmitted sexually. [2]

Is it normal for my child to develop a lip rash while teething?

Yes. Some children will develop lip rash while teething due to the increased production of saliva, which can then irritate the skin. This process can be reduced by regularly wiping the saliva from your child's face with a soft cloth. [7]

Why won't my lip rash go away?

You could have a rash on your lips for a number of reasons including HSV, impetigo (a bacterial infection), thrush (a yeast infection), or contact dermatitis (an allergic reaction). You should consult a physician to establish a diagnosis and receive treatment. [3,4]

Can allergies cause a lip rash?

Absolutely! An allergic reaction can cause a rash on your lips just like it can in other locations on your body. If you notice a rash consistently after application of certain lip cosmetics or dental products, you should avoid those products as they may be the culprit of your rash.[4]

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Lip Rash

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Are there bumps on your rash?
  • Q.What color is the skin change?
  • Q.Is your rash raised or rough when you run your hand over the area of skin?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our lip rash symptom checker to find out more.

Lip Rash Quiz

Lip Rash Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced lip rash have also experienced:

    • 16% Swollen Lips
    • 7% Burning Pain on the Outside of the Lips
    • 4% Dry Skin
  • People who have experienced lip rash had symptoms persist for:

    • 29% Over a Month
    • 27% Less Than a Week
    • 25% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced lip rash were most often matched with:

    • 50% Non - Specific Dermatitis (Skin Inflammation)
    • 50% Irritant Contact Dermatitis
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

A.I. Health Assistant

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References

  1. Herpes Simplex. American Academy of Dermatology. AAD Link.
  2. Blahd WH, O'Connor HM, ed. American College of Cardiology: CardioSmart. Published December 10, 2012. CardioSmart Link.
  3. Sore or Dry Lips. NHS. Published July 30, 2018. NHS Link.
  4. Oakley A. Stomatitis. DermNet NZ. Published 2011. DermNet NZ Link.
  5. Ngan V, Mahon C. Kawasaki Disease. DermNet NZ. Published April 2012. DermNet NZ Link.
  6. Lip Cancer. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. MSKCC Link.
  7. Cranston G. How to Treat a Teething Rash. HealthGuidance. HealthGuidance Link.
  8. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published December 22, 2017. CDC Link.
  9. Oakley A. Angular Cheilitis. DermNet NZ. Published 2010. DermNet NZ Link.
  10. Herpes Simplex: Diagnosis and Treatment. American Academy of Dermatology. AAD Link.