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Skin Care and Diseases

Rosacea on the lips?

07/15/2008

Question:

For about 3 months now I have been fighting red, burning, throbbing, dry lips. It started at the corners of my mouth, then spread all over my lips. I thought perhaps it was cold sore related, so I treated it as that. It got a little better, but didn`t go away. One morning I woke up to find rosacea on my cheeks and jaw area, consulted with a doctor and was persribed metrogel (metronidozole);it cleared up. However, now the same problem with my lips is back: RED, BURNING, sometimes itchy, throbbing lips. It has now continued to the outside area of my lips: surounding them. Please help! This is just as embarrassing as it is painful. What is it? Oh, and my lips become so dry that they crack, as well as feel like sandpaper.

Answer:

What you describe on the lips is unlikely to be due to rosacea, although it is possible. More likely, it may be that you are having an irritation or allergic reaction to something you are in contact with. Common contactants that can cause these types of symptoms include make-up, toothpaste, mint candies, dental appliances, etc. This can be treated with topical corticosteroids or other preparations. Pure vaseline can be a good moisturizer for the lips until the culprit is found. Another good possibility is that you have a condition called "eczema" which people are genetically born predisposed to. If you lick your lips a lot, this can trigger or worsen the eczema causing the symptoms that you described. Less often, the symptoms you describe may also be caused by yeast (in the corners of the mouth), or a condition called perioral dermatitis but your description does not sound good for either diagnosis.

I recommend you visit with a board certified dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis. If an allergic reaction is involved, they may need to do a "patch test" to identify a specific chemical that you are allergic or sensitive to. If you are licking your lips, STOP!!! Use vaseline every hour to moisturize until you see the dermatologist.

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Response by:

Pranav   Sheth, MD Pranav Sheth, MD
Formerly:
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati