Avatar universal

Flaking lips

I have had a problem with my lips for about the last 18 months.  The lower lip is swollen and parts of the skin go through a cycle of being red and sore, drying, and eventually falling off.  The upper lip is also effected around the bottom, in the middle, but only slightly.  Whenever I eat the lips tend to swell slightly and the skin around the lower lip goes red.  After researching this site, I believe it is cheilitis.  I think I have had angular cheilitis when I was 18.  The right hand corner of my mouth was cracked and the skin around it was very irritable, red and sore.  At the time the doctor perscribed me canesten which didn't really seem to help.  After a few months it just seemed to clear itself up to my great relief!
About a year later, I believe I had cheilitis effecting both lips.  All the skin on both lips went through the same cycle I have described above and the facial skin around the lips was red and sore.  It was very itchy, and I used to scratch it in my sleep which made it worse.  It was my first year at university at the time and I found it very difficult settling in.  It lasted the whole year and when I went back to stay with my parents for the summer, it cleared up within two weeks!  So I was wondering if it can be triggered by stress.  I get very easily stressed, and when I do, eczma flares up on my face.
I have only recently consulted a doctor about the present condition.  I was firstly given a blood test to see if I was anemic but that came back fine.  Then I was perscribed antihestimines which did nothing so I have been reffered to a dermatologist and am currently waiting for an appointment.
Given the past and present conditions I have described above, is it reasonable to think I have cheilitis and that it can be caused by stress like eczma?
Many thanks
13 Responses
242489 tn?1210497213
I agree completely with your analysis and assessment of the nature and cause of your condition.  Cheilitis (eczema of the lips) is indeed often stress-induced.  Antifungals like Canesten aren't likely to help, nor are antihistamines.  I'm not sure why your doctor was looking for anemia, but not surprised none was found.

While waiting to see the dermatologist, I siggest applying 1% hydrocortisone and vaseline ointments sequentially three times daily.

And if visitng your parents helps, by all means do so!


Dr. Rockoff (also a parent)
Avatar universal
Additional to the above question:  What would be suitable to treat my condition?  Can my doctor perscribe somthing to me before I see a dermatologist?  The sooner I get this sorted out the better because it effects my everyday life and I avoid people when I look bad and avoid eating food in front of people.  I have been using liquid paraffine to keep them moisturised.
242489 tn?1210497213
I think my original answer covered that.

Dr. Rockoff
Avatar universal
I think I have a similar condition as yours.  One of my dermatologists told me that I have eczema while the other said I have exfoliative cheilitis.  It's on my whole lips.  The epithlial layer of the skin keeps on growing and peeling for more than 2 years now.  I noticed that my saliva is very sticky and that seems to make the healing more difficult.  The mucous membrane also seems to be peeling and drying out slowly as it spreads into the mouth.  I've been using many products, such as locoid, protopic, diprolene, aquafor etc., but to no avail.  Currently, I am taking many vitamins with hope that it will help me heal in the long run.  Looking back, when I took a wisdom tooth out, my dentist put vaseline on my lips because it was dried.  I think from that point on my lips began to get worse and worse.  Any comments would be appreciated and maybe it will help me find my way to good health again.
Avatar universal
What's the difference between hydrocortisone .1% and 1%.  Does one work better than the other? Right now, I am using locoid(hydrocortisone butyrate 0.1%) again, since aquafor doesn't help.
Avatar universal
If you have ?? about medications, you can contact a pharmacist as well.  They are very knowlegable and probably able to answer more quickly.
Avatar universal
I've been having the same problems that the rest of you
seem to be describing.  After 2 years of living in New
Mexico my lips would dry out and hurt no matter how
much lip balm I put on. The problem just got worse and
worse.  I moved to boston this past January, and by then
I had progressed to my lips being red, swollen and painful.
I've seen dermatologists, immunologists and boston's top
specialist on oral mucosal diseases.  My lips started
improving when I simply stopped putting anyting on them,
which was about 2 months ago.  I also went on Valtrex,
just in case there was a cold sore component to it.  At
the moment, my lips are dry and they scale and flake,
but it's much more bearable than it was before.  The
oral mucosal specialist said that I did have exfoliative
chelitis, which basically means swollen flaking lips.
It's merely a descriptive term, and the condition can
be caused my many different things.  She did say that
it is thought that it can sometimes be brought on by too
much lip balm.  I will say my lips are _better_ without
putting anything on them, but they don't seem to be
improving much, and we've had 60-100% humidity here in
Boston lately. I'm interested to read the
above posts saying that stress can be a cause as well.
I'm curious what sorts of coping strategies the rest of
you have, I've found this condition to be terribly
depressing, and am considering seeking treatment for that,
so any suggestions would be more than welcome. Thanks.
Avatar universal
HELP ME GUYS!!  I am new to this whole "lip burning" thing.  Mine started last Sunday.  I didn't eat anything unusual or new.  First, I thought I hit myself in the mouth by accident because it looked like a busted lip...then the skin peeled off and then the red splotches because the skin was so thin and RAW and PAINFUL!!!  Ouch!!  It hurt to touch them, to smile, and forget lipstick or lipgloss!  OUCH x2!!  Only vaseline.  I tried hydrocortisone cream...that was a joke.  So, it's 7 days later and now there is "bubbling" or like little bumps under the surface of my lip skin...this is TORTURE!!  If anybody finds out anything that can help (I am going to the dr tomorrow...hmmm, we'll see....) please keep me posted!  THANKS! (and I would say "keep smiling"....but under the circumstances....uh....well, THUMBS UP!)
Avatar universal
Since I posted the above question, I have seen a dermatologist.  She believes it to be eczema of the lip as described above.  I have been using 1% hydrocortisone ointment for a few weeks now.  It seems so help a little in the sence that the area is slightly less red, dry and slightly less swollen.  However, the skin is still flaking off in the same cycle as before.  The dermatologist said that if the hydrocortisone doesn't work than try daktacort, which is a combination of hydrocortisione and anti fungal.  I have been applying this cream for just over a week now and also using the hydrocortisone ointment in between.  There doesn't seem to be any improvement but I suppose I should give it a bit more time.  I am currently waiting for patch testing which should be happening in 1 months time approx.  Its got to the stage now where I actually hope they find somthing wrong with me or find that im allergic to somthing.  Then at least somthing can be done to sort it out.
I find that this condition is very depressing and dominates my whole life.  I never eat infront of people because the swelling is aggrivated and my lips and sourrounding are go red and gives the appearence of them looking twice the size.  I have to wait for the aggrivation to die down before i see peolple and am constantley checking in mirrors throughout the whole day to see if pieces of skin are hanging off.
I feel i have slightly different symptoms to your cases.  My lips are not sore or itchy at all.  Although they have the apperance of being very sore.  When I had eczema of the lips before, it effected the whole layer of both lips and was incredibly itchy.  So does anyone have any ideas as to what this condition could be?  Has anyone had patch testing for their condition and did it give any helpful results?  Any help is much appreciated as you can probably imagine.
Robhh - As for the stess part, I am convinced that it plays a key role in triggering the condition.  The worse it gets the more you stress aswell, which makes it worse.  It is a vicious cycle.
Avatar universal
LMlips - I think my problem started in a similar fashion
to yours.  The skin just all fell off and I had little
bumps under what little skin was left. I've been dealing
with this for 6 1/2 months now.  The only thing that helped
was doing nothing.  Everything I put on just irritated
the lip more.  Don't know what I'm going to do when
winter comes ...  Good luck and hope you fare better than
Avatar universal
after reading this thread i think what i have been going through is chelitis.  last summer i went to the beach without any spf chapstick and my lips burned.  it took a month for it to go away and it made me think everyone was always looking at my lips.  well, last week i went to the pool for only an hour, with spf 15 on my lips, and they still got burned! i had always thought this was cold sores, but i guess not? i've been using anbesol and carmex... seems to help, but won't make it go away.  where can i get these products you guys are using? do i have to have them perscribed? i don't have a derm appointment until the 28th =\  thanks for any help you can give me!
Avatar universal
I'm 16 and have suffered from exfoliative cheilitis for about 13 months, it has quite simply ruined my life. I dropped out of school, I was an A grade student in most subjects. I am so depressed, and have hardly been out of my house for the past year, this is ripping me apart. What doesn't help, is that I found it hard enough coping with teenage acne, when this ''eczema of the lips'' came along it just destroyed me. Coping with one unsightly skin condition is bad enough, but two, I can't cope. Also, just as my acne was starting to clear this lip condition sprung itself upon me, treating my lips makes me get acne, due to the greasy creams and lubricants. The event of treating one condition makes the other worse, an infinite cycle.

I visited a Harley Street Specialist about six months ago, I was given hydrocortisone ointments etc, none of which have helped.

My lips aren't sore or itchy, they just peel and peel and go through their unsightly cycle, which never ends.

I went for blood tests, to look for iron deficiancy and other vitamin deficiancies, there was nothing wrong, I also had patch tests to check for allergies, I wished they would find something so there was a cause for this condition, but they didn't.

Why should I put myself through this anymore. Why not end it now.
Avatar universal
I have experienced sore, red and flaky lips, the Doctors didn't know what it was.  It was stress induced, the Doc prescribed many creams which didn't work until I tried FUCIBET cream - it worked straight away.  I just keep it in my drawer and if I feel it start to flare up I just bung a bit of cream on and it stops it.  Hope this works for others.

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