Inflammation of the lip

Anatomical basics

The lip, in Latin as "Labium oris“Is an organ in the lower front area of ​​the face of humans or animals. It is formed by two soft tissue folds that are created in pairs and seal the oral cavity from the outside. The lips are connected to one another in the transition area to the cheeks via the so-called corners of the mouth. This leads to the formation of a narrower upper lip and a slightly larger lower lip than that. The surface of the lips consists of skin on the outer face and mucous membrane on the inside of the oral cavity.

The lips are connected to our gums via a duplication of the oral mucosa known as the mucous membrane, the lip frenulum. The main characteristics of the lips are their mobility, delicate shape and consistency. This is made possible by their muscular basis, the Orbicularis oris muscle, which means something like "the circular muscle surrounding the mouth".

Forms and causes

The lips have less natural protection than other skin areas.

Inflammation of the lips, also known in medical jargon as "Cheilitis"is usually not an independent disease, but often occurs as a concomitant symptom of other diseases, but can also occur in isolation. Causes are, for example, bacteria or fungal infections. An inflammation of the lips can also be caused by allergies, oral mucosal infections, nutritional deficiencies such as iron deficiency or vitamin B12 deficiency, or with so-called autoimmune diseases.

Basically, lip inflammation can be divided into four forms, which differ from one another due to their triggering factors and associated clinical pictures.

  • The most common form of inflammation of the lips is "cheilitis simplex", the simple inflammation of the lips, which is also known under the term "Cheilitis sicca"is widespread, which can be roughly translated as a dry lip inflammation. Their triggers include allergies, mechanical stress on the lips, such as habitual licking of the lips or, in babies, by frequently wearing a pacifier. Furthermore, physical influences such as moisture, cold or light solve them "Cheilitis simplex." Even in the context of drug treatment, undesirable side effects can cause this form of lipitis.
  • If the inflammation of the lips is caused by UV light, in other words by massive exposure to the sun, which is equivalent to sunburn, one speaks of "actinic cheilitis". This is an acute, sudden inflammation of the lips caused by radiation. It represents a tissue degeneration that is associated with a potentially increased risk of a malignant skin tumor and mucosal tumor.
  • As part of the rare Melkersson – Rosenthal syndrome, an inflammatory disease affecting the entire body of unknown cause, swelling of the lips and eyes occurs. This form of lip inflammation is known as "granulomatous cheilitis" in connection with this disease. This form also occurs as a symptom of an inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease.
  • Some systemic underlying diseases such as diabetes mellitus, popularly known as diabetes, iron deficiency or vitamin deficiency or immune deficiency can lead to painful torn and inflamed corners of the mouth. It is called "angular cheilitis", an inflammation of the lips that affects the corner of the mouth.

Read more on the topic: Dry corners of the mouth

Any prolonged inflammation of your lips should be professionally clarified by a doctor, because the underlying causes range from harmless to serious.

Inflammation of the lip on the outside

Lips dry out very easily and are prone to minor injuriesthat can lead to inflammation. External inflammation of the lip shows up dryness, painfully torn corners of the mouth, swelling and reddening of the lip. The inflamed lip is very sensitive to acidic foods and drinks and hurts.Blisters can also appear, often on a Herpes virus-Notify infection. Next to it is one Fungal infection (thrush) with Candida albicans often causes inflammation of the lips. It impresses as a whitish covering with cracks.

Inflammation of the lip inside

The inner part of the lip consists of sensitive, well-perfused mucous membrane and appears very red when it is inflamed. You can also do this in this area Vesicles occur, they are called Canker sores designated. These do bWhen eating acidic food, this is noticeable through burning pain. It is a matter of Concomitant symptoms of infections. There are also recurring forms where the cause is not known. Most canker sores are small and isolated, rarely in larger groups. They are covered by a whitish membrane. Aphthae usually heal in days to a maximum of two weeks and usually heal without scars.

Inflammation of the lip after being bitten

The lips are well supplied with blood and are very prone to injuries due to their high stress. It is not uncommon for you to accidentally bite your lip, causing minor injuries. Particular caution is required, if you ask the dentist for a local anesthesia received, which also numbs the lips. Here you may not notice that you are hurting yourself. Usually they are minor injuries harmless. It is of course possible that these catch fire. Here you should apply greasy ointmentsto support you herbal additives how Witch hazel, lemon balm and chamomile The Cure. You should also avoid fruit and sour foods and drinks, as contact can lead to sharp pain.

Inflammation of the lip from piercings

A healed puncture canal usually does not lead to any further complaints. But right now fresh after pricking, the lip is prone to inflammation because it is an injury to the skin and mucous membrane. Slight swelling and redness are normal at first and should subside after a few days. The important thing is the piercing To clean and keep clean exactly as instructed by the tattoo artist. If the inflammation persists for a long time, the tattoo artist or a doctor should be consulted. Often the plug is too tight or the material of the piercings leads to one allergic contact reaction.


As already mentioned, infections with the herpes simplex virus are often the cause of painful inflammation of the lip and mouth. This is known as herpes labialis and, by the way, is a different pathogen than that of genital herpes.

Almost one hundred percent of the world's population are carriers of the virus, but not everyone will experience symptoms. They are usually reactivated by a weakened immune system, for example in the case of infections, but also in stressful situations and with increased exposure to the sun.

Sore vesicles appear on the mucous membrane. These contain a highly infectious secretion and encrusted honey-yellowish crust after opening. Under no circumstances should you open these vesicles yourself, as the secretion that drains off is very contagious. Since it is a viral infection, acyclovir should be applied thinly but regularly to the affected areas as an ointment from the pharmacy.
You can find detailed information on this topic at: Cold sores

Pimple on the lip

With a weakened immune system In addition to herpes, pimples can also appear on the lip due to the high number of nerves very painful are. Often is too mfishing hygiene a trigger, for young women too hormonal situation or in general increased stress. That is important No make-up or lipstick so as not to clog the pores any further. Here, too, chilled chamomile tea can have an anti-inflammatory effect and soothe irritated skin. Besides it works Tea tree oil disinfectant, Zinc ointments dry out the pimples and Salicylic acid from the pharmacy has an antibacterial effect. The important thing is that the exact dose and a targeted method of application must be observed, as all of these substances can irritate even healthy skin.

Symptoms of inflammation of the lip

The symptoms of inflammation of the lips can vary greatly depending on the triggering cause and underlying disease. Mostly lip inflammation is characterized by chapped lips or dry lips that feel rough. The lips can also be red and tense. In addition, due to the dryness, there is a risk that the corners of the mouth will tear and become infected. When eating acidic or spicy food, this leads to a burning sensation of pain on the lips.

Read more on the topic: Burning lips

The appearance of inflammation of the lips is far-reaching. This can lead to dandruff, superficial loss of skin or mucous membranes or even the formation of blisters. If a bacterial infection triggers the inflammation, this can even lead to the appearance of slimy, purulent, encrusted lips.

Swelling of the lip

The swelling is next to redness, pain, warmth and impaired function Cardinal symptom of inflammation. The cause of swelling is the leakage of fluid from the vessels into the inflamed tissue; this is also known as edema. The body increases the flow of blood to the site of the injury to allow more cells to be washed up to help fight infection. A So swelling around the injury and inflammation is typical, but uncomfortable and painful, and makes speaking, chewing and swallowing difficult in the mouth area. Before getting to decongestant, anti-inflammatory pain relievers you can also use so-called "home remedies": this includes, for example, disinfecting rinses and compresses chamomile.


Whether it is inflammation of the Lips acts is through a medical eye diagnosis, in other words, made by the sole appearance of the lips. After that, the doctor will thoroughly discuss any other possible current symptoms Diseases or Pre-existing illness question, possibly also lifestyle habits, such as frequent Sunbathingto identify the triggering cause. If there is any suspicion, further examinations can be carried out. These range from blood tests to so-called Smears from the affected lip area. Smears represent the removal of tissue samples with, for example, a sterile swab from superficial wounds or mucous membranes to avoid a possible bacterial pathogen to prove.

Therapy for inflammation of the lip

In general, lipitis therapy depends on the underlying cause. In order to counteract the dryness, it is usually advisable to apply greasy nourishing creams or ointments, such as Vaseline or zinc paste, which you can purchase in consultation with your doctor in the pharmacy or even over the counter in the drugstore. For a short time, cortisone-containing ointments also help to reduce the inflammation. However, these should not be applied to the lips for longer than two to four weeks or more than twice a day! Otherwise, there is a risk that the skin around the mouth will thin out and become vulnerable. A well-tried home remedy is to apply honey to chapped lips. However, this is only recommended for mildly dry lips.

If the inflammation of the lips is based on a certain underlying disease, this should be treated by your doctor. For example, the optimal blood sugar control for diabetes or a balancing iron supply for iron deficiency. If a bacterial infection causes inflammation of the lips, you will probably be prescribed an antibiotic to fight the bacterial pathogen in consultation with your doctor. Is the body's defense system affected like that Melkersson – Rosenthal Syndrome, Under certain circumstances, therapy with a so-called immunosuppressant, a drug that suppresses the body's immune system, may be necessary.

Ointments for inflammation of the lip

There are a variety of ointments that can be applied to lip inflammation. However, it is important to know the cause of the inflammation.

Chamomile helps against swelling in general, an aciclovir ointment should be applied to cold sores, and dermatologically tested pimple pens from pharmacies can help with pimples.

In order to prevent inflammation of the lip, the lip should be kept supple with a grease pencil, especially in winter, and special sun protection should be applied when there is high exposure to the sun (even when skiing in winter!). In order to support the immune system, a balanced diet should ensure that all important nutrients and vitamins are consumed.


As far as it is in their power, avoid the trigger for their lip infection. If you have known allergies that lead to inflammation of your lips, you should avoid the triggering substance. Also, make sure you have a balanced diet and enough exercise to avoid diseases like diabetes or Vitamin deficiencies to counteract. If you are one of those people who like to bathe in the sun, always make sure you have enough skin protection, by using appropriate suncream. If the lips have already become inflamed, you should avoid direct sunlight as much as possible! On cold, wet autumn days, which can lead to the lip drying out quickly, we recommend the use of a care product Lip balms.

Function of the lips

The lips fulfill a variety of functions: They represent the gateway to the oral cavity and thus enable us to eat. Especially in small children, the lips represent a pronounced organ of touch with their numerous nerve endings, through which they can grasp unknown objects. In addition, the lips take part in language formation and, as part of the facial muscles, enable us to express feelings through targeted muscle movements. In addition, the lips are one of the so-called "sexual arousal" organs. In society, plump, well-formed red lips are perceived as attractive and sensual.

The Blood circulation of the Lips takes place via the Facial artery. In some people, the red lips appear stronger, which is due to the fact that our lips with three to five cell layers are relative thin is strung and with light Skin type fewer skin pigment-producing cells are located, which cause the lips to darken. As a result, the blood vessels show through the lips and the red lips are perceived. Our lips have neither hair, sebum glands nor sweat glands, which is why they lack a protective layer that keeps them supple and kills pathogens. This is why our lips are dry out quicklycan become brittle and cracked. If the lips are completely infected with redness, swelling or pain, one speaks of one Inflammation of the lips.

Further topics from this area

Dry lips

Many people suffer from dry lips, and this phenomenon occurs mainly in winter. Different causes can trigger the drying out of the lips.
Read more on the topic: Dry Lips

Chapped lips

Many people suffer from dry, rough and sometimes chapped lips. There are several causes that can lead to chapped lips.
Read more on the topic: Chapped lips

Cold sore

Many people repeatedly suffer from herpes on the lip. The unsightly blisters can be caused by different causes.
Read more on the topic: cold sores