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Avatar universal

Recurring redness around lips

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?
50 Responses
563773 tn?1374250139
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
Same exact problem here. It seems that no dermatologists even know what the problem is.
Avatar universal
Do you smoke? Becuase I smoke, and I might be thinking smoking could be an irrtant to it, causing the redness.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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?
Avatar universal
has anyone found anything to help. HELP!!!!!
Avatar universal
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.
What was the name of the cream that worked?
Yes, please share the name of the cream.  I've had this exact problem for going on two months now.  It is painful and makes me very self-conscious. I get blisters inside my lips, numbness of my tongue and the itching burning ring around my mouth. I've been using Lamosil, but that hasn't done anything to help.
Avatar universal
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).
Avatar universal
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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