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Avatar universal

Yellow crust on lips

For the last two days I have woken up with a yellow, crumbly crust covering my lips. I have been applying Vaseline liberally, and while that helps keeps my lips nice and moist, I still have this crust developing and I often feel as though my lips are weeping or sweating.

Is this an infection? If it is, will I need a prescription for an antibiotic cream or is there one I can get OTC? It started off as regular chapped lips, but I think the chap is largely gone now thanks to the Vaseline. I sometimes feel like they are burning a little too.

My lips itch slightly around the outside too. It looks as though there may be some very small raised bumps on my lips, with no heads or anything, like it's a rash - but I'm not sure. It certainly doesn't look like cold sores. I and my  boyfriend were tested for all STD's recently and came up clear, but I may go to a clinic to get herpes ruled out just to ease my mind. I would have seen a doc about this already but I am overseas right now so it's tricky.

Age - 19
History of eczema, but not on or around the face, and not seen for years
I don't lick my lips, I use Chap Stick quite a lot because I do get chapped lips easily
Iron deficiency runs in family, but is usually not a problem for me because I include lots of iron and Vit-C in my diet
As far as I know, I'm perfectly healthy otherwise and haven't been ill in months.
70 Responses
Avatar universal
Can I please get an answer on this? I want to go to the drug store tonight and it would be helpful to know what I should get. Thanks.
How can I not get no more crusty lips
Avatar universal
Just wanted to update, since the docs on this site have been no help...

Went to the drugstore and bought an antibacterial cream, and a 1% hydrocortisone cream. I put the antibacterial cream on my lips first, taking care not to get it inside my mouth, then coated it over with the cortisone... woke up the next morning to a drastic improvement. No crust, no weeping, my lips have healed beautifully. I still don't know what the initial problem was but I suspect an infection.

Just wanted to post that in case anyone is having a similar problem.
Avatar universal
I think I have this same condition.  Have tried leaving the crust on there (allowing it to heal?) but it doesn't change in a few days.  Also, you pretty much have to peel it off in the morning.

I will try the anti-bacterial ointment tonight and hopefully it will stop crusting.  I think mine is caused by chapped lips as well.  Perhaps the weakened lips from being chapped allowed easier infection or infection spread.
Avatar universal
just to update, it looks like this is working quite well for me.  After one application of anti-bacterial ointment, the liquid has mostly stopped coming out, and the crustiness is gone!!  After a few applications and a day, I feel like it's really starting to heal.  The rawness of my lips is gone, and I just need probably another day to get back to normal.  Big thanks to the above poster for putting the information up.  You saved me a week of humiliation and probably $100 bucks from the doc visit.

Apparently yellow = bacteria infection, if itchy then think fungal infection for skin conditions.  At least this is my experience with common skin problems.
Avatar universal
i think this is happening to me to, i will try the above, and hopefully post later on condition
Avatar universal
hey can you guys write the exact antibectirial ointment that you used. I have the same condition and i went to a pharmacist all they could tell me to do was visit a doctor. I hope you guys can help, thanks.
Avatar universal
hydrocortisone. follow the directions.
Avatar universal
I had the exact symtoms and took your advice.  It works!  I went to pharmacy and purchased 1% hydrocortizone and an anti-bacterial cream (polysporin).  Within hours my condition was substantially better.  It's now been 24 hours and it's almost gone.  THANK YOU for sharing...you saved me $110 plus.  
When you applied the polysporin did you wipe the yellow stuff off to reapply a new layer of the polysporin? Or did you lleave it alone and work its magic ?
Avatar universal
This is a recurring problem for me. When I was a kid it happened a lot, but it slowed down quite a bit once I got older. It's only happened to me twice in the last 5-6 years (I'm 24 btw).

It always starts as a weird feeling on my top lip. It's like the skin feels thicker or has a weird taste to it. Then small bumps start to form, almost like a rash. After that, the yellow crust starts to form. If I scratch it off, a yellow liquid leaks out until it crusts over again. There's always a burning and itching around the outside of my lip. After a few days it begins to heal. The crust goes from a bright yellow to a darker color, and it can be removed without anymore liquid occurring, kind of like a scab.

I went to a doctor who told me it was herpes, but I don't think that's the case. I have very dry skin that gets red and itchy at joints occasionally. My lips are always peeling if I don't keep them moisturized. I think it might have something to do with eczema (which my dad has), or an infection that gets into the cracked skin on the lips.

I'm in the middle of it right now. Two days ago I had some really greasy pizza. It seemed to occur almost instantly after that. It calmed down a bit throughout the night until I had more of the pizza. It got a lot worse after that. I'm not positive it had anything to do with the grease, but it seemed to correspond.

I usually let it heal naturally because I always feel like peeling off the crust will make it worse. I really don't feel like walking around with this for a week though. I have both antibacterial cream and hydrocortisone here, so I'll give this a try and report back.
Avatar universal
As far as anti-bacterial goes... would a triple anti-biotic of neosporin also work? Ive never heard of Polysprin. Where could I get it? I have had this condition for the last 3 days now.
Avatar universal
Has anyone found out what this condition might be caused from?
I noticed that when it when it weeps it contagiously spreads. I have been using the triple anti-biotic since the beginning, and still have it for 3 days now. Very uncomfortable. I believe it started from using a medicated chap stick which made my lips feel numb at first, then chapped from the inside, tiny bumps, then burning, then weeping. Allergic reaction, I think?
Ibuprofen and the triple-antibiotic seems to help with the uncomfortable pain.

Avatar universal
I tried the suggestions mentioned above, but no result. My lips continue to get more bumps, aquired more crust, had more weeping, became more inflammed, and even seem to contagiously spread to the parts of my face surrounding my mouth...
So I went to my Doctor yesterday afternoon and he confrimed I had a lip allergy. A lip allergy from using a medicated chap stick supposed to get rid of cold sores!! It was called Armstrongs chap stick. Maybe I'm allergic to an ingredient in it. Nevertheless I won't be using that again.
Anyway, my Doctor prescribed me a really good allergy cream called Fluocinonide 0.05% (texture of cake frosting) to be applied liberally throughout the day. It calms swelling, redness, and helps heal the lips from the bumps, crusting, and weeping. When you take it, you'll feel alittle warm but thats because it needs to get absorbed in the skin, it goes away after a bit. You can take Ibuprofen or something if it bothers you too much.
He also gave me a small prescription for Prednisone tablets, 10 mg, to be taken only for 3 days. In 24 hours my lip condition decreased dramatically!!!
I believe that the cream did most of the work.
I hope this will help. I had a severe allergic case.
Avatar universal
I have the same thing, cracked, mostly near the sides of my mouth, weeping a lot with yellow fluid that dries up.  I've used Cherry Carmex a few times in the past few days, perhaps it iritated it, not sure. I've never had this before.

Curious if the fluoucinonide is working.

Avatar universal
The first couple of posts sounded like impetigo. The more recent posts are proof that you can't always use the itnernet to solve your medical problems. Steroid creams can exacerbate infections. Antibiotic creams may not be enough for severe impetigo. They definitely don't work for allergic reactions to chapstick.
Avatar universal
my lips were literally addicted to chapstick since the 5th grade cause i used it literally every 20 min..now i am in 12th grade and was at the point that i couldnt eat, drink anything spicy or sour..nothing..it was getting ridiculous..after they were so compeltely damaged i got this crust that everyones talking about that dries yellow but its so thin it wipes right off...i tried bacatracin in the morning and all day then put just 1% hydrocortisone on night and it cleared it compeltely after 2 days..i got this from obviously have extremly damaged lips..and if anyone has my problem of addiction to chapstick where if i dont put it on for more then 5 min my lips literally turn red and burn as if i havent used chapstick in years ...follow these steps.."

Apply cool, salt-soaked cloths to the lips everyday to hydrate the lips. Seal in the moisture with a lip balm containing waxes or lanolin.( i used "Bag Balm" its in a green square tin) In extreme cases, apply hydrocortisone ointment under the lip balm. Avoid frequent lip licking. Change lipstick to rule out allergies. Apply lip balm with sunscreen before venturing into the sun. Use a humidifier indoors whenever possible. Increase water intake in the winter months to further hydrate the skin."
Avatar universal
im having the same problems with my lips for 2 months now,it has happen 4 times within this 2 month period,i do get cold sores but this is no cold sore,this usually happens when i tend to stay out in the sun too long,im jus thinking bout going to see a doc about this,do anybody know wat this condition is called?this stuff is making me really depress and its embarrising!!!!
Avatar universal
I recently have experienced the same symptoms of the weeping, yellow crust on lips.

It started with cracked, chapped lips, and applied Blistex to help heal my lips. Only my lips did not heal. They started appearing swollen, with reddness on inner lips, yellow crust on tops of lips, no pain but about as uncomfortable as a badly chapped lip.

On the 4th day I went to go see a doctor; he diagnosed me with a condtion called Impetigo which is a bacterial infection that is very contagious.I must say if you look up the condition the pictures can be scary, but if you take medicine and take proper precautions you will be just fine. My doctor prescribed me acyclovir as well as recommended topical neosporin. For me, the neosporin seemed to make my lips more irritable, so this is what I did:

1) Take Acyclovir as prescribed.
2) Wash hands constantly.
3) Wash lips with antibacterial soap.
4) Rinse mouth with antibacterial soap. (helps get top inner part of lips)
5) Apply Vaseline with a Qtip on top and inner part of lips. (throught day and just before bed)
6) Avoid touching lips. (If you do wash hands immediatly with antibacterial soap)
7) Wash pillow covers, bed sheets, and towels after each use. (Better to be safe than sorry)

Well this is day 6 and lips are not swollen any more and seem to be healing up great.

Thank you for the information you all provided, it gave me great direction!

Avatar universal
I've been suffering with the same problem with my lips... It started in Oct. of 2009, and has been flaring up off and on since then.  I do suffer from psoriasis (PPP, only affects my hands and feet), but that is in remission right now and has been for several years.  I went to see a demotalogist last week, he was very busy, and really made me feel like he wasn't listening to me, took a look at my lips and said I had a yeast infection (there is nothing in my mouth, like thrush, it's only on my lips), he prescribed an antifungual cream.  I took the prescription to my local pharm, they said the cream he'd prescribed was a very  very expensive prescription, and told me that the exact same thing was sold over the counter, its an antifungal cream for athletes foot and jock itch!!!!!!!!!!!!  I've been using it for about 4 days now just applying it to the outside edge of my lips, and the corners. Today I noticed my lips seemed to be getting somewhat better, they weren't weeping and i wasn't waking up with the hard scabby like junk on them.  Then this afternoon I ate some shrimp, just thawed from the freezer, nothing on it, no cocktail sauce or anything.  About 1/2 hour later my lips swelled up, started weeping so much that the clear liquid was running down my to my chin, then they began go bleed slightly.  I've never had any allergies to food, in fact I'd just eaten shrimp last week, and not had this reaction.  I'm very confused, and in a ton of pain right now, my lips are burning like crazy!!  I am going to make an appointment with another derm (thank goodness I have health insurance) and see if this one is any better,  and if he/she has any other suggestions.  In the meantime I'll continue to use the antifunal, not eat any more shrimp(?).. and also continue to buy stock in the vaseline company, being that's what i put on my lips continuously all day.
I have the same thing described exactly in the first post. I have looked into this a lot (and i'm still looking) I believe it is caused by pollen fruit syndrome (also known as oral allergy syndrome) where u develop allergies to things that cross react with pollen. I have noticed I get allergy symptoms or my immune system is down and when I am eating something (usually raw vege salad for me) my lips start to swell up and then eventually turn into a scabby mess. Going to try and see a specialist but hopefully this helps some people find an answer?
I have the same thing described exactly in the first post. I have looked into this a lot (and i'm still looking) I believe it is caused by pollen fruit syndrome (also known as oral allergy syndrome) where u develop allergies to things that cross react with pollen. I have noticed I get allergy symptoms or my immune system is down and when I am eating something (usually raw vege salad for me) my lips start to swell up and then eventually turn into a scabby mess. Going to try and see a specialist but hopefully this helps some people find an answer?
Avatar universal
I have had this same condition for 3 months
I have to use the 1%Hydrocortisone & Poly Bacitracin daily on my lips
When I wipe it off.....its starts to puss & crust over
I am trying Fluocinide 0.05% on my lips tonight
Hopefully this works....will keep posted
Avatar universal
I've had this for several weeks now, at least.  I can actually trace it back further, perhaps, to when I used Just For Men facial hair dye about six weeks ago.  The dye, which I applied to my mustache according to the instructions, burned any skin it made contact with very severely, and even though it didn't get on my lips during application, contact made while rinsing was enough.  The entire area was red and hurt, and after initially subsiding for several days, the redness (not the pain) returned and along with it, dryness and chapped lips.  I used Carmex lip balm to help my lips (at this point, they were just chapped), forgetting that the skin around my mouth is pretty sensitive to things like menthol and cinnamon (learned this from toothpaste).  I think that while the Carmex did keep my lips moist and prevented further chapping, it may also have exacerbated or maintained the irritation around my lips.  Then, between two and three weeks ago, the weeping began on my upper lip.  At first it was a sense of thin wetness and I would wipe it off and re-apply balm, but then over night it became a crust with a yellowish tinge.  The crust seems to dissolve away in just about anything (water, petroleum jelly, etc) without much effort, but then the lip would began weeping the thin, clear, slightly salty fluid.  It doesn't seem like pus and there is no blistering.  Unlike cold sores there are no bumps and there is no locus -- just a patch of lip skin that weeps a fluid that dries into a yellow crust.  The weeping/crusting then spread from my upper lip to the skin above my lip and to my lower lip.  My guess is that my already compromised skin picked up an infection.  I tried using a standard topical antibiotic ointment with bacitracin and it seemed to work (plus, being petroleum based, it kept my lips from getting dry).  It got rid of the areas that weren't on my lip in less than two days and improved the condition overall.  However, after several more days and no further progress on my lips it actually began getting worse again.  Lots of ointment has not helped.  I tried just leaving it alone entirely the last two days; it hasn't helped and my lips began chapping/cracking which probably will make it worse.  Today I finally got the cortisol cream and I'm going to try the combo advised by the first few posters.  This is the ONLY place online that I could find where anyone described something similar to what I have.  It really doesn't resemble cold sores/herpes and while I cannot rule out impetigo, I would point out that almost all facial impetigo infections seem to be much more focused on the nostrils than the lips (in fact in pictures it often seems to avoid the lips).  Meanwhile I have had no problems around my nose at all and, unlike what I see in most impetigo pictures, there are no spots or bumps.  I'll post again to update on whether the hydrocortisone/bacitracin ointment combo works.

Side note: I have, like another poster here, also experienced rapid worsening as a consequence of eating certain foods.  I believe it's from oily things like pizza, which is tough to keep completely off my lips while eating.
Avatar universal
Hey, I have the exact same symptoms as you! Any news? Update on your situation?
Avatar universal
Hello, I'm from Portugal and I must say I am very happy to find a place in which to speak of my problem.
The truth is I have this situation at least 8 years, with exactly the same symptoms described here. has been a torment. The ONLY thing that relieves symptoms with cortisone are products or derivatives. In the last 3 years I have used "Protopic", is free of cortisone, a real find.
The reason I am writing here is that after doing more tests and medical examinations for a long time, resentment consulted a dermatologist who asked if I had a tooth leaded, and yes I have. So he sent me to replace all the lead of the teeth by that "white ".
I'm allergic to merthiolate. According to the doctor, the merthiolate has mercury and lead from Mercury also has teeth! In hindsight, there really are 8 years that i leaded the first teeth ... I think I'll start replacing the lead. If I tell you to get better.

See you soon. And sorry for bad english.
Avatar universal
I too have been experiencing this for years off and on.  I am allergic to Lanolin, some pollens (rye grass, ragweed) possibly some molds.  I'm working with and allergist to try to figure this all out. Even Vaseline is irritating to me now - or at least it isn't soothing. I may be sensitive to mineral oil.  I recently discovered I am also allergic to the Preservative Benzylkonium Chloride which is in most eye drops and nasal sprays.  I recently had surgery for a severe chronic sinus infection.  Though those might cure the itchies... It hasn't - perhaps because of the allergy to the sprays/drops I was told to use to help the healing and inflammation post op...
I'm now seeing the ENT for post op, an allergist to diagnose, treat the allergic reactions and my GP to hopefully manage this as I think it is all inter-related... I think the allergies  and eczema I have cause inflammation which gets out of control and then as others have mentioned I get secondary infections... also, any small infection causes inflammation and makes me more sensitive to allergens...
In general I am trying to keep super hydrated, using Protopic very sparingly ( it is a potential carcinogen with chronic use!) and using straight vitamin E oil to moisturize my itchiness.  My lips aren't splitting anymore and this was the first time in ten days that I haven't woken up with eyes crusted too... but my lips seems worse... sheesh... Nice to know that I'm not alone, but there seems to be no one easy answer for my chronic re-occuring issues... I too have the oil reactivity.. Olive oil may be the culprit... my sister suggested it as a treatment, but it seemed to cause more inflammation and I reacted to some oven roasted veggies that were brushed with olive Oil...  
I think if the inflammation were not there I wouldn't be reacting, but since my lips are cracked I am sensitive to nearly everything!

Maybe I'll fast for a few days and just drink water!!!  Perhaps I'll "clean out" whatever is bothering me...
Yep I have a very similar story (yet to get tested for allergies), pretty sure it is something called pollen fruit syndrome (oral allergy syndrome) get your allergenist to look into it (if they haven't already) also I am planning to go to a naturopath as they seem to know more about the why and how to prevent rather than just how to treat it.
1662353 tn?1302764903
I am a nurse, and I can tell you that the yellow crust you all have been experiencing might well be from a VERY infectious and contagious bacterial infection called impetigo or possibly an oral form of the herpes simplex virus (cold sores). If you experience another outbreak, I would go to your MD's office and have them do a culture so you know for sure what you are dealing with. The treatment of choice for impetigo is an anti-bacterial ointment such as mupirocin (Bactroban) or bacitracin (Polysporin).
I have the same thing as what everyone else seems to have, allergic reaction (called pollen fruit syndrome if i'm right) and then it turns into an infection. I'm going to try Polysporin as suggested to see if that clears up the infection.
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