Swollen lips – causes, treatment & prevention

swollen lips

swollen lips not only affect the visual appearance, but can bring the sufferer even more unpleasant symptoms. Why it comes to a swollen lip can have many different causes. After the present cause, then the treatment of swollen lips.


What is a lip swelling?

A swollen lip is particularly evident in the visual appearance. Since our lips have a very fine skin, they are particularly susceptible to damage.

The swollen lips are significantly larger than usual and can therefore give the affected person an enormous sense of tension. It can be so strong that it causes pain. Depending on the cause, the lips can also be reddened to inflamed, burning or itching.

If the lips are swollen as a result of an injury, open areas may be visible that bleed or wet. However, if an infection is the cause of the swollen lips, the appearance of the skin on the lips can change differently. Pustules or fluid-filled blisters may be visible, which may cause severe pain.


But even insect bites can cause swelling of the lips if the stitch is in the lip or right next to it. Such punctures can also inflame and cause enormous swelling. Frequently, allergies are the cause of swollen lips. These can be both contact allergies and intolerances to certain foods. Triggers for a contact allergy may e.g. Be cosmetic products. A food allergy causes symptoms after eating the food.

An infection can also produce swollen lips. Very common here is the herpes infection, in which in addition to the swelling also show small blisters and the patient feels a tingling sensation in the lip.


When to the doctor?

Since swollen lips can have different causes, it must be decided on a case-by-case basis if and when a doctor is consulted. Injuries often cause the lips to swell. Here, of course, the actual cause should be treated, the swelling itself heals itself. Inflammation at the affected site can increase the swelling and should be treated.

Insect bites in the lip area can also lead to swelling. A medical examination is recommended if there is an insect venom allergy. Even with a food intolerance, the lips can swell. If other symptoms occur, such as vomiting, diarrhea or stomach ache, a doctor should be consulted. However, if lip swelling is the only symptom, medical advice does not necessarily have to be used.

If there are white blisters in addition to the swelling and pain or tingling in the affected area, this may indicate a herpes infection. If only the lips are affected, the infection can be treated with freely available drugs from the pharmacy. If the infection spreads to the oral cavity, a short-term visit to the doctor is strongly advised.

Diagnosis and course

To diagnose the cause of swollen lips, first a detailed conversation between the doctor and the patient. The affected person should tell the doctor exactly all the symptoms and also mention anything that might be related to the symptoms. If there is a suspicion of an allergy, all use of cosmetic products and consumption of non-everyday foods would be worth mentioning.

An optical examination by the doctor usually brings clarity as far as the diagnosis is concerned. In insect bites, the puncture site is usually clearly recognizable, it is a herpes infection, show the characteristic bubbles. If the swollen lips have been preceded by injury due to an accident, the diagnosis is very simple. If the cause is found, a swollen lip usually heals easily and quickly.


A swollen lip has various causes and also complications. For one, a slap in the face can cause swelling of the lips. In addition, depending on the hardness of the stroke, other structures may be affected. For example, the jaw or the nose can be broken. In addition to important structures such as vessels and nerves, the bones can remain irreversibly deformed. An allergy is one of the most common causes of a swollen lip. This occurs as swelling as part of a Quincke edema. It is a swelling of deeper skin layers.

Complications can be a narrowing of the airways, which can lead to respiratory distress and difficulty swallowing. In addition to the lips, genitalia and hands and feet are also common in Quincke’s edema. The worst case of an allergic reaction is anaphylactic shock, which leads to a sharp fall in blood pressure and an increase in heart rate. This is a medical emergency and needs immediate attention.

In addition, a herpes infection can cause swollen lips. These can in some cases spread to the brain and trigger inflammation (encephalitis). This can be associated with paralysis and dysregulation. In the worst case, the inflammation can spread systemically and thus lead to life-threatening sepsis, which leads to death if left untreated.

Treatment and therapy

The treatment of swollen lips properly, especially after the cause of the discomfort. If it is an insect bite or if it is due to an injury, cooling the affected area significantly relieves the symptoms. If it is an open wound, it should be thoroughly cleaned and attention given to hygienic measures. Antiseptic ointments prevent infection with pathogens.

If an allergic reaction is the cause of the swollen lips, then the allergy trigger must be found and avoided. If the body is repeatedly brought into contact with this allergy-causing substance, the allergy can not subside. Allergy triggers can be both food and cosmetic products. This can also be products that have been used or consumed for a long time and have so far been tolerated without problems. Allergies and intolerances can occur at any time.

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Christina Cherry
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