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Recurring redness around lips
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Recurring redness around lips

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About 2 months ago, I went to visit my physician regarding a problem I had with a ring of redness around my lips - more prominent on my bottom lip - it was a lighter, tender pink shade and kind of looked like I had been drinking lots of red kool-aid. I also had constant dry, cracked and bleeding lips, and tried everything from drinking plenty of water and making sure I wasn't licking them. I didn't have any other visual symptoms, but I did have a combination of a burning/numbness feeling on my lips.

The doctors did some bloodwork to check my vitamin levels which all came back fine and instructed me to try an OTC cream like Abreva, as they thought it might be a cold sore (which I never had in the past either). Two weeks later, I scheduled a follow up appointment, as the redness and severe chapping was still there.

The second time, they prescribed an Acylovir tablet and Zovirax cream for oral herpes. All this seemed to do was irritate my entire mouth. My lips swelled up and felt like they were shot up with novicaine. After the 10 day period of using the medication, I noticed the chapness went away, but the bright red ring around my lips is still there. Some days it's more prominent than others and my lips tend to dry out now and then, but I'm trying to avoid putting any sort of ointment/chapstick on them in the event that something coming in contact with the lips is irritating them further.

I've included a recent photo (not the best quality) that shows my bottom lip and my lip line is no longer definitive. I have set up an appointment with a dermatologist a few weeks from now, but I'm still trying to get some clarity on what might be causing this. I've had people suggest everything from a fungal/bacterial infection, cold sores/oral herpes, allergies, vitamin deficiencies, etc. Nothing in my daily activities has really changed for the past several years, so I'm concerned about the sudden onset, and how this problem has persisted for almost 2 months now.

Has anyone else experienced something like this?
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33 Comments Post a Comment
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563773_tn?1374250139
Hello,
Firstly, It can be due to vitamin B deficiency. Take some vitamin B complex for some days and see if your symptoms improve.
Secondly, it can be due to atopic dermatitis or eczema("Atopic" refers to a group of diseases where there is often an inherited tendency to develop other allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever). Cheilitis (Inflammation of the skin on and around the lips) is often seen in atopic dermatitis. Diagnosed by blood test like RAST. Treatment is by topical steroids or oral therapy of corticosteroids in severe cases. Topical creams like tacrolimus ointment (Protopic) and pimecrolimus cream (Elidel) are also useful.
If the symptoms persist then please consult a dermatologist.

I hope it helps. Take care and please do keep me posted in case you have any additional doubts. Kind regards.
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Avatar_m_tn
I have this same exact problem. My doctor prescribed me numerous creams and ointments, none of them worked. He said it was lip licker's dermatitis. -lve had it for almost 6 months already. Did you happen to find out what it is? Keep me informed.
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Avatar_m_tn
I have the same exact problem but its effect on my mouth was worser than the picture of your mouth you showed.  I stopped using lip balm during the day but soothes my lips lightly with Eucerin Aquaphor before I go to bed at night to help exfoliate dead skin and help restore moisture.  

My dermatolgist don't know what to tell me either.  I am at a point in my life where I wish there is no summer at all because the symptoms are at its worst when the temperature gets too warm I can't even take a walk during the day.

If at this point, you have found the magic wand that can cure this bad spell, please drop some line again.
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Avatar_m_tn
Same exact problem here. It seems that no dermatologists even know what the problem is.
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Avatar_m_tn
Do you smoke? Becuase I smoke, and I might be thinking smoking could be an irrtant to it, causing the redness.
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Avatar_m_tn
I have been a  non smoker for just over a year now. In all the years that I have been smoking, I've never had problems with chapped lips or irritation around my mouth. My doctor and my specialists still haven't found a medication that can treat this...thing. In the 6+ months I've been dealing with it, it hasn't gotten any worse, but it's not getting any better either.

My dermatologist prescribed some Desonide ointment which seems to help the physical irritation the most, but just like vaseline, it's just slathered on my lips to mask the symptoms and not actually treating the problem.

My physician still insists it's something related to a herpes virus... unfortuntately I can't keep afford any more of these types of medication (Zovirax, Valtrex, etc...) because they're CRAZY expensive.

I've done a little more research and it seems that a few people that have had similar symptoms were put on antibiotics with moderate success. I think I might try to go that route just to see if things get any better. It can't hurt, considering I've tried EVERYTHING else.

I've also tried to go cold turkey and just not put anything on my lips, but the longest I can go is about 3 days and in that time, they crack so badly that I can't even move my mouth to talk or eat.

Found anything that works? Or even some insight as to what might be the cause of the problem? I've already ruled out vitamin deficiency and allergies (the common troublemakers of chapped lips) Keep me posted on any updates.
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Avatar_f_tn
do u have herpes? i do. i tried so many things. its very frustrating.im at the point where im extremly self concoius with people cuz i feel there always staring at my lips. let me know if u find out anything about it, or if anything helps.
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Avatar_m_tn
I am wondering if you ever found the solution to the "redness around the lips especially the lower one".  I have come down with the almost exact same thing about a month ago or so and am just now trying to find an answer.  Your original post sound identical to what I have.  But I see that these posts were from a year ago or more. Any news?
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Avatar_n_tn
has anyone found anything to help. HELP!!!!!
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Avatar_m_tn
I have the same problem. Never had them before. Flared up all of a sudden accompanied with dry and chipping lips. No, I don't lick my lips neither do I smoke nor drink nor did anything different or ate anything different that would have caused this. It came out of the blue!

I was given a cream which I applied and which helped get rid of the pink ring (inflammation). But, I applied the cream just once a day at night. However, the moment I stopped applying the cream, the redness returns within days.

Please don't tell me I have to use this cream forever.
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Avatar_m_tn
GOT THE ANSWER!!!   angular cheilitis. both of my children,  and later I was having the same problem. went to a local walk in clinic to get in somewhere quickly and without hesitation he told me take vitamin B and it should clear right up. Went home and gave it to my kids as well, it was gone in 2-3 days for all of us!! My kids and I all take B12 as soon as the weather gets cool and our lips show the slightest indication of a ring and it nips it in the bud. You may ask your Dr to recommend a dose but I believe I usually take 2/day for a few days of the 500mcg over the counter B12. (the b complex has a much lower amt of the B12 as I recall). Best of luck!
I was just googling to find out the name of it as I forgot. It is called angular cheilitis. Once it progresses to cracked corners, they can hold saliva in them and it seems that is where it can grow a fungus which can spread. (as some people are posting) .  The vitamin B therapy has worked for us for about 3 years now! After reading what everyone has gone through to find an answer, I am REALLY thankful for the Doc at the walk in clinic!!  When you google it may say it begins with lip licking and none of us thought we did that either, but the site I read said some people do it in their sleep (or esp older folks...drool).
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Avatar_m_tn
I have it right now.  Have had it for 2 months and it is driving me nuts.  The MD put me on an anti-viral yesterday.  My Husband is on the way to the store for B12.  I will let you know if it works.
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I get sudden, and I mean sudden, discoloration below my lower lip about once every 2-3 years.  One minute everythings fine, and the nest is a one inch by 1/4 inch dark reddish brown patch below my lower lip.  

There are no other problems such as chapped lips, soreness or the like, just the discoloration.  It seems like the problem only takes seconds to materilaize.

I've asked my family doctor about it and he has no idea what or why.  It goes away in a week or so and the only problem is the cosmetic one.

I could post a photo, but I don't know how.
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Avatar_m_tn
TRY CANESTEN cream, i also has that,  i had an itchy down there,then i used canesten cream and it's going better, i suspect, i had my lips infected when right after i apply cream on my penis, i grab a cigarette,maybe it had contaminated and had contact in my lips.

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Avatar_m_tn
TRY CANESTEN cream, i also has that,  i had an itchy down there,then i used canesten cream and it's going better, i suspect, i had my lips infected when right after i apply cream on my penis, i grab a cigarette,maybe it had contaminated and had contact in my lips.

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Avatar_m_tn
Also try to crushed a garlic and apply it to your lips.it is anti fungal
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Avatar_m_tn
I've had the same problem, usually proceeded by my lips swelling, but not always for the past 2 years.  It would just happen lasting a few days or weeks then go away sometimes for several months just to suddenly happen again.  My doctor said it had to be an allergic reaction, but I don't think it is because careful note of what I have eaten has not produced any pattern.  Now my lips haven't swelled up in a while, but have been read and chapped for several weeks.  Looking for an answer
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Avatar_m_tn
I've had the exact same problem going on two years except tiny little white bumps in my lips that never come out,been to the doctor and she agreed it wasn't herpes but has no idea what it is
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Avatar_m_tn
What was the cream?
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Avatar_m_tn
We're they bad in the summer as well that's when I feel it's the worst.   I'm definetely going to try the b12 vitamins,,..
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Avatar_m_tn
Regarding the redness surrounding lips, I have had the same issue starting last December (2013).  How did the vitamin B12 therapy work for you?  I haven't tried it yet.  Thank you Rick
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Avatar_f_tn
I have the same issues as the original poster. Finally after 2 embarrassing months of a red mouth/chapped peeling lips & trying every cream under the sun I went to a dermatologist. She said it is perioral contact dermatitis. Not sure what caused/triggered it. I was down the shore and maybe got a sunburn when it started so that might have been the trigger. I have fair skin. She prescribed Desonide ointment (topical corticosteroid) to be used 3x/day on lips & around mouth for 1 week. Then 2x/day for the 2nd week then stop. If I am still having issues after that she will do a "patch test" on my back to zero in on what I may be allergic to. After that, I may go on Prednisone. Also, she said to use basic toothpaste...not tartar control or whitening. She suggested Tom's Natural brand. And just use very mild soap (Dove or Cetaphil) to gently clean the face. If I need something in between the Desonide applications, she said to use only Vaseline...nothing else! I think jumping from cream to cream/ointment to ointment didn't help the situation. I'll post again in a few weeks with any updates on my condition. Hope this helps others!!
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Avatar_m_tn
Perioral Contact Dermatitis is nothing like what is being described by everyone on here.  No bumps and limited to small area around lips - very different.
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Avatar_m_tn
Definitely Angular Cheilitis.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hello,

I just had a patch test done and I am allergic to propolis (bee's wax). It is in everything from lip balm and cosmetics to antibiotics. You have to read everything, and NO HONEY either.

So far, so good. Also allergic to formaldehyde.

Angela
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Avatar_m_tn
My Dermatologist told me the same crap.......He said it's from licking ur lips too much. First off the creams don't work on the cuts on the corner of your mouth.  They only work on your lips if there swollen or if u have tiny skin bumps around ur mouth. To get rid of the cuts I was putting A&D ointment on them which worked for a little while but the cuts never fully healed or closed. You have to use either Peroxide or alcohol on the cuts and let them just heal up and dry out. I used Q-tips to put either of them around my lips where I had the cuts at. Two or three time s a day and especially at night when ur goin to be sleeping is the best way to get results. And I also was taking Vitamin B-12 don't know if that was really helpin or not but I took anyway just in case. Just be careful not to get too close to ur mouth u don't want to accidentally get either one inside ur mouth.
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Avatar_f_tn
What was the result of your  "patch test" ?

In 4/2014 I had red swollen lips & a bit of red around the mouth. Tried all the ointments, creams, antibiotics, prednisone, cortisone, viral, etc. Nothing helped; it just finally faded away.

1/2015, the same red lips reoccurred with a larger red surrounding the mouth, which began extending up to the nose & down to the chin. Then, a 1-1/2" red stripe appeared on the front of my neck and blotchy chest. Also, my sinuses became totally blocked & the only way I could breath was to sniff & spit out mucus ( Sorry for disgusting description.)  After all that, it started to disappearing,

I woke up one morning & it was all back in red living color. I freaked! Of course by the time I went to the allergist & dermatologist, it faded. They do not know cause or remedy.

I'm sending dermatologist a copy of a number of  people's posts.  I'll try the B12 & see. Has anyone had the red neck & chest in addition to the lips or sinus problems?
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Avatar_f_tn
What was the result of your  "patch test" ?

In 4/2014 I had red swollen lips & a bit of red around the mouth. Tried all the ointments, creams, antibiotics, prednisone, cortisone, viral, etc. Nothing helped; it just finally faded away.

1/2015, the same red lips reoccurred with a larger red surrounding the mouth, which began extending up to the nose & down to the chin. Then, a 1-1/2" red stripe appeared on the front of my neck and blotchy chest. Also, my sinuses became totally blocked & the only way I could breath was to sniff & spit out mucus ( Sorry for disgusting description.)  After all that, it started to disappearing,

I woke up one morning & it was all back in red living color. I freaked! Of course by the time I went to the allergist & dermatologist, it faded. They do not know cause or remedy.

I'm sending dermatologist a copy of your comments.  I'll try the B12 & see. Has anyone had the neck & chest or sinus problems?
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Avatar_f_tn
What was the result of your  "patch test" ?

In 4/2014 I had red swollen lips & a bit of red around the mouth. Tried all the ointments, creams, antibiotics, prednisone, cortisone, viral, etc. Nothing helped; it just finally faded away.

1/2015, the same red lips reoccurred with a larger red surrounding the mouth, which began extending up to the nose & down to the chin. Then, a 1-1/2" red stripe appeared on the front of my neck and blotchy chest. Also, my sinuses became totally blocked & the only way I could breath was to sniff & spit out mucus ( Sorry for disgusting description.)  After all that, it started to disappearing,

I woke up one morning & it was all back in red living color. I freaked! Of course by the time I went to the allergist & dermatologist, it faded. They do not know cause or remedy.

I'm sending dermatologist a copy of a number of people's posts.  I'll try the B12 & see.

Has anyone had the red neck & chest in addition to the lips or sinus problems?
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi , I really have a problem with my lower lip for 2 years now. its partly red but I don't drink, no smoking, not HIV positive end have tried several medication as prescribed by the doctors but only in vein. please can you help me on this because I don't understand what the problem is
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi.

I have the exact same problem you've described.

Sudden onset of:

Swollen Lips

Red Patches on Lips, Extending to Exterior Area

Severely Itchy

Cracks at Corners of Mouth

Discoloration of Lips in which they become Lighter in Color around the Red Patches

No Sores in Mouth

No Sore Throat

Consistently Dry Feeling - as though nothing (literally) can be absorbed by my lips

Red Ring Surrounding Edges of Lips

I don't know what to do. This happened very suddenly, without any changes in lifestyle. I do not smoke, do not drink, and have not changed anything I've done, on a regular basis, for at least several years.

I'm embarassed to be seen in public and so far, nothing I have tried has worked.

I will try B12 and post.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank YOU!!
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Avatar_m_tn
im going through the same thing.. I am 31 never had this problem before but just woke up and my lips were so chapped. It was uncomfortable but I cant for the life of me figure out what the hell it is! lol.. meanwhile I have a new boyfriend who is going to shun me probably.. JK but it is embarrassing. I went to the dr. and she gave me edinol cream? said that should knock  it out, but it was 300$ .. I luckily found a coupon online so I got it for 35$.. just started that but I read some home remedies that worked for me kinda. Listerine worked. it knocks out the bacteria. it stings at first but my lips weren't chapped this morning. just shows the red marks where I have been picking or irritated. I got vitamin d pills too bc someone said it could be vitamin d deficiency. my dr. said dry Benadryl at night too.. I feel like I did NOT get a definitive answer at the dr. so im just trying all these different things. Guess Ill stock up on vitamin b 12 too.. but also noticed someone saying could be allergic reaction to b12.. I drink those energy drinks with b12 in them. (the starbucks refreshers etc) hope im not allergic to that now. MAKE THIS LIP GO AWAY!
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