Lip inflammation: symptoms and treatment of inflamed lips

A lip infection or inflamed lips is more common than you think. Lip inflammation can occur due to wounds such as ulcers and cold sores, and can be the result of numerous causes, including viruses and fungal infections. Inflamed lips can also be caused by a nutrient deficiency, and even cold weather can cause inflammation . There are various internal and external factors that lead to inflammation of the lips. Additional symptoms include itchy, red or swollen lips. Sometimes self-care and home remedies are sufficient and sometimes medical treatment is necessary. Your doctor can make a diagnosis and initiate treatment.

  • Causes of a lip infection
  • Cold sores
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Corner of the mouth eczema
  • Fungal infection
  • Cold and bleak weather
  • Oral allergy syndrome
  • Symptoms of inflamed lips
  • Treatment of inflamed lips
  • Self-care and home remedies
  • Castor oil or castor oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Gargle with salt water
  • Black tea
  • Avoid spicy foods
  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Increase iron intake
  • Avoid biting the lips
  • Turmeric
  • Drink enough
  • Aloe vera

 Cold sores: blisters on the lip / Source: Sergii Chepulskyi/

Causes of a lip infection

Cold sores

You can contract an infection from a virus. The most common and well-known virus that can infect your lips is the herpes simplex virus type 1, which causes cold sores around the mouth. The virus is in the fluid of the cold sores and this trouble spreads through the hands, hugging and kissing. Between outbreaks, HSV-1 hides in nerve cells, so it is never completely cured. A cold sore is characterized by blisters, often on or around the lips, that itch, burn, tingle or hurt.

Nutritional deficiencies

Although nutritional deficiencies are not a direct cause of lip inflammation, they can be a predisposing factor. A vitamin or mineral deficiency, such as iron deficiency, zinc deficiency or vitamin B2 deficiency, can weaken the body’s immune system , making it much easier to contract a bacterial or fungal infection, for example chamois in the corner of the mouth (see below).Angular eczema in an elderly person with iron deficiency anemia and dry mouth / Source: Matthew Ferguson, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Corner of the mouth eczema

Corner dermatitis refers to an inflammation of the corners of the mouth and is caused by irritation of the corners of the mouth by saliva, which contains (digestive) enzymes that can damage your skin.

Fungal infection

Corner of the mouth eczema (perlèche) is caused by an inflammatory reaction of the skin as a result of irritation due to the accumulation of saliva in the corners of the mouth. This can be complicated by an infection or contamination with a fungus; a yeast that is often found in humans is Candida albicans.

Cold and bleak weather

Extremely cold temperatures, dry air and strong, chilly winds in the winter period can make you more likely to suffer from inflamed lips and cold sores. In cold weather or severe frost, cold sores tend to rear their heads, so you have to be careful. The harsh and chilly winter winds can also lead to dry, chapped and cracked lips, making your lips more vulnerable to inflammation. Cracked lips provide an ideal environment for herpes or yeast infections to take hold.

Oral allergy syndrome

Certain types of fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables can be the cause of oral allergy syndrome. After eating the food you are allergic to, symptoms such as tingling, burning and swelling occur. The complaints arise on lips, tongue, oral mucosa or throat. The complaints often disappear after a few minutes.

Symptoms of inflamed lips

Inflamed lips can cause the following symptoms:

  • swollen lips
  • blisters and blisters on the lips
  • sores on the lips
  • bumps on the lips
  • sore lips
  • itchy lips
  • burning lips
  • tingling lips
  • dry lips

 Consult your doctor if you have inflamed lips / Source: Syda Productions/

Treatment of inflamed lips

Your doctor can make a diagnosis based on your complaints and physical examination, paying special attention to your lips and mouth. In the case of a bacterial infection, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic that you apply locally or an antifungal ointment in the case of a fungal infection. The doctor can also prescribe corticosteroids (anti-inflammatories) if necessary.

Self-care and home remedies

Lipitis or inflamed lips can be quite painful and annoying and very pleasant to look at. Fortunately, there are a number of home remedies that can help relieve symptoms.

Castor oil or castor oil

Castor oil or castor oil is often used for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties, due in part to the high amounts of ricinoleic acid in the oil. The oil can be used by gently massaging the substance into the infected areas.Coconut oil / Source: Phu Thinh Co, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-2.0)

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is antibacterial and antifungal due to a chemical composition that makes it similar to peroxide. It also contains terpenes, which are believed to be good for fighting bacteria and fungi. Tea tree oil is very strong, so it is best to dilute it with coconut oil or water. Apply the mixture to the infected area and massage it gently. Do this just before going to bed and leave it on overnight.


Yogurt may be able to help clear a fungal lip infection. It contains probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, which can help heal the lips and eliminate fungal infections. It’s as simple as massaging natural yogurt into the inflamed lips, letting it soak in for a while and then rinsing with cold water and a cloth.


The lactic acid in milk can help reduce swelling and promote healing of inflamed lips. Massage milk into the inflamed lips and let it sit there for at least 45 minutes. After that time, rinse the milk with cold water and a towel.Baking soda or baking soda / Source: Tszrkx, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Gargle with salt water

Salt is antiseptic and can help clear infections and inflammation. The easiest way to use salt is by gargling with salt water. You can also use baking soda (also known as baking soda) for this. Mix half a teaspoon of salt with a cup of water. Then gargle with the mixture for half a minute. Do this four to five times a day. Gargling with the water can help clear bacteria in the mouth and throat.

Black tea

Black tea is used by many people to reduce swelling. The tea gets its astringent powers from a compound called tannin. Tannins bind to certain proteins and chemicals and in this case can help reduce the swelling of an inflamed lip. Make a cup of tea and remove the tea bag. Rub the tea on your lips and let it dry; then rinse the tea with cold water and a towel. You can also use the damp tea bag and apply it directly to the infected areas.

Avoid spicy foods

If you regularly eat spicy and spicy food, you know that it can make your lips tingle. Spicy food can worsen the existing pain of a lip infection, so it’s best to avoid it until your lips have healed.Eating less sugar / Source: Umberto Salvagnin, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-2.0)

Reduce sugar intake

Consuming less sugar benefits your overall health. Sugar feeds fungal infections; therefore, lowering your sugar intake reduces the amount of food that allows the infection to grow and multiply.

Increase iron intake

Iron helps the body fight infections, especially when it comes to fungi. Increasing your iron intake can strengthen the body’s immune system and help fight the infection. You can increase your iron stores by eating green vegetables, beans and peas. Be careful with iron supplements. Always discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist first.

Avoid biting the lips

Biting your lips, especially if they are irritated or inflamed, often only makes the complaints worse. It can also spread the infection, for example in the case of cold sores.Turmeric / Source: Ajale, Pixabay


Turmeric has long been used in traditional herbal medicine for its medicinal properties. It can be used for lip inflammation because of the anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties of turmeric. Turmeric can help inhibit the growth of fungus and possibly even kill it, so the infection will end. It can also help reduce swelling. Turmeric can be made into a paste by mixing two tablespoons of turmeric powder with a little water. Massage the paste into the affected area and let it sit until it dries. Wipe off the paste with cold water and a cloth and repeat the process once or twice a day.Drink enough fluids every day / Source: Luminast/

Drink enough

Keeping yourself well hydrated is always important, and the increase in fluids also helps remove waste products from your body, allowing for faster healing.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that contains salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a compound that promotes healing in the skin, which is why it is often used to treat sunburns, burns and cuts. Apply aloe vera gel to the affected area, especially when dealing with blisters and sores.

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