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Eczema on Lips: Types, Causes and Treatments

Eczema refers to a group of conditions that cause itchy inflammation of the skin. This condition damages the skin barrier function, which makes your skin more sensitive and more prone to infection and dryness.

Eczema can affect any part of the body, including your lips. Eczema on your lips is also known as lip dermatitis and eczematous cheilitis. Eczema typically causes dry patches of skin and scales, and eczema of the lips may cause your lips to become itchy, dry, scaly, red, or peeling.


There are two major groups of lip eczema based on the cause:

Endogenous: This means that the lip eczema is due to your inherent characteristic. One example of this type of lip eczema is atopic dermatitis, which is more common among people who have a family history of the condition.

Exogenous: This type of lip eczema is caused by something outside of the body.

Within the exogenous group, there are more specific categories based on the cause:

Allergic contact cheilitis: This type of lip eczema occurs due to an allergic reaction to products you use, such as lip balm or lipstick, toothpaste, medications, and foods. An allergy is found in at least a quarter of cases of eczematous cheilitis. A dermatologist can perform patch testing to help you identify which allergens to eliminate.

Irritant contact cheilitis: Irritant contact cheilitis may present similarly to allergic contact cheilitis but is due to an irritation instead. Lip licking is a major cause of this type of lip eczema. Chronic exposure to an irritant such as cosmetics, food, and environmental factors can also result in this condition.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience unusual symptoms such as a fever, chills, diarrhea, or spreading of the rash, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.


The major causes of lip eczema are atopic dermatitis and irritant or allergic contact reactions. The triggers may not be the same for everyone. Lip eczema can be triggered by different things, including external conditions such as the weather, behaviors such as lip licking, allergens, and nutritional deficiencies.


Eczema of the lips is treated by identifying and eliminating or managing the cause of the issue. Therefore, treatment varies depending on the type of lip eczema you have.

For irritant or allergic types of lip eczema, the treatment will involve identifying the cause of the irritation or allergy and discontinuing use of a product or limiting contact with the trigger.

For lip eczema related to atopic dermatitis, managing the condition should help alleviate the symptoms of lip eczema.

For all forms of eczematous cheilitis, topical corticosteroids along with a lip balm or emollient can help calm down your lips and reduce any itching sensations.

Lip eczema can be troubling because it affects your appearance. However, regardless of its cause, there are ways to manage this condition. The best way to prevent this condition is to avoid your triggers, such as allergens or irritants. It also helps to steer clear of products that may be irritating to your skin, such as those containing alcohol and other harsh ingredients. If you know or suspect you may have lip eczema, it is best to make an appointment with a dermatologist.

by VeryWell Health

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