What Can Cause a Lip Rash?

Nick Mann

A lip rash is a small but often painful problem that can cause much discomfort for an individual. Since the rash is located on the mouth, bringing it into contact with food and beverages can make the symptoms even worse. In order to find a solution for a lip rash, it's important to first understand what some of the common causes are. These include an allergic reaction to food, an allergic reaction to a product, a cold sore stemming from herpes and actinic cheilitis.

Eating certain foods may lead to the development of a lip rash.
Eating certain foods may lead to the development of a lip rash.

One of the most common reasons for a lip rash is simply eating a food to which the individual has an allergic reaction. Some people and especially children will demonstrate an allergic response to certain types of food with the appearance of a rash. It's usually foods like fruits and vegetables that give people problems. Also, some seafood and peanuts can lead to swelling and a rash for certain people.

Eating peanuts may cause rashes to develop for certain people.
Eating peanuts may cause rashes to develop for certain people.

Another common reason is using products that a person allergic to. For example, some items such as lip balm or toothpaste can pose problems for certain individuals. Usually there will be a combination of swelling around the mouth and a lip rash during an allergic reaction. This is mainly due to the variety of chemicals that many products contain. In many cases, switching to a more natural product will eliminate the problem.

An allergic reaction to toothpaste may cause a lip rash to develop.
An allergic reaction to toothpaste may cause a lip rash to develop.

The cold sores that result from the herpes virus are also a common type of rash. If an individual contracts oral herpes, it leads to periodic ulcers forming around the mouth. In turn, a rash on the lips is quite common. Fortunately, a variety of over-the-counter and prescription products can be used treat these ulcers. If a person suspects he has contracted herpes, it's important to visit a doctor for treatment.

A woman with a cold sore caused by oral herpes.
A woman with a cold sore caused by oral herpes.

An additional cause of this problem can be actinic cheilitis. With this condition, there is usually a lesion or rash that forms on the lip, but is usually not painful. Reasons for actinic cheilitis include overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays, wearing dentures or exposure to tobacco products. This typically occurs in older individuals and can sometimes lead to cancer if untreated.

Since there are a variety of causes for lip rash, it's often difficult to pinpoint exactly what caused the problem. Therefore, it's important to carefully monitor the rash and make sure that it doesn't worsen. If the problem doesn't clear up in about a week, individuals should seek the help of a doctor or dermatologist.

Lip balm and other products may trigger a rash.
Lip balm and other products may trigger a rash.

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Discussion Comments


I developed a rash on my lips about six weeks ago. I went to the dermatologist who prescribed a cream that cleared it up after several days (10) but not 100 percent. Now it's back again. It's dark, dry and wrinkled and it feels crusty when I press my lips together.

I am in my mid 50s and have used everything from Cover Girl to Avon and Mary Kay and have never had an allergic reaction to anything, especially not lipstick or gloss. What is this? And why now?


I am troubled with an upper lip skin rash. It's dry, blackish in color, with a feeling of tightness. There's no itching or inflammation (no redness or swelling). This happens from time to time mainly in air conditioning and during summers.

I thought it was a lack of hydration, so use I aloe vera and Vitamin E, but nothing seems to work completely. It just eases, but doesn't stop. What is the reason for this?


I'm 16 and just recently, rashes started appearing on my upper lip and has been itching ever since. They are tiny, fluid-filled bumps. One had popped, has formed a crust and is now somehow painful (only in that area). It also had caused my lip to slightly swell (which is returning back to normal now).

According to what I have searched in the internet, they could be Herpes 1 which is STI. This made me paranoid since I haven't engaged in any sexual activity, kissing, or hugging and I don't have a boyfriend. I don't have fever, nor do I experience pain in any part of my body. Hope you could help me.


@ceilingcat - I've been kind of hesitant to try those plumping lip glosses for fear of a weird reaction. After reading your post, now I'm extra scared. Although, I guess any kind of new lip stick or lip gloss could cause a rash or allergic reaction.


I got a lip rash awhile back. I had a bad reaction to some new lip gloss I bought. It was supposed to be plumping lip gloss, and it did make my lips bigger, but not in the way I had hoped. I ended up swollen with hives around my lips.

Luckily all I had to do was take anti-histamines, but I definitely don't want to repeat the experience. From now on I'm just going to stick with regular, non-plumping lip gloss.


@betterment - Those are good idea. I've also heard of a supplement called L-lysine that some people take to prevent cold sores, as well as outbreaks of genital herpes. I don't get cold sores, but if I did I would probably try L-lysine. I've heard it works pretty well from a few people I know who take it.


I get cold sores occasionally. I know some people get really embarrassed about them, but I think they're really nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, they are caused by the herpes virus, but I read somewhere that something like 70% of people are infected with the virus that causes cold sores.

Anyway, although they're nothing to be ashamed of, cold sores hurt so it's no fun to have them. I find that I tend to get them more when I'm stressed out or under the weather, so I try to take good care of myself and keep my immune system healthy. Then, if I get one, I just use an over the counter product.

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