About Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us

Swollen Lips / Lip Edema Symptom Evaluation

Last Updated on Jan 12, 2015
Font : A-A+

What are Swollen Lips?

Swollen lip is a condition where one or both the lips enlarge in size. Swollen lips can happen due to injury, infection, allergies, sunburn, vitamin deficiencies and certain systemic conditions.

Swollen Lips

Common associated Symptoms with Swollen Lips:

  • Painful lips
  • Difficulty eating /talking /opening the mouth
  • Chapped lips
  • Blisters on the lips
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Cold sores
  • Cracks on the lips
Symptoms of Swollen Lips

Swelling of the lips can be of upper or lower lips or of both the lips. It may be also one of the symptoms of a more generalized disease. Some of the conditions that present with swollen lips are:


Allergies – Lip swelling can happen as a result of allergy to certain foods, climatic changes, pollen, animal dander or any cosmetic product used on lips. It can present with swelling of lips, hives, difficulty in breathing or swallowing and itching of eyes. Testing for allergy helps identify the cause. Avoiding the cause can prevent the reaction. In case of an acute attack, antihistamines or steroids may be required.

Angioedema Angioedema is a condition that presents with swelling under the skin often over the lips and eyes. It may also involve other body regions like hand, legs and genitalia. Swelling can be itchy and painful. Difficulty breathing and abdominal pain are also common with this condition. It is caused due to allergy to various substances like:

  • Foods - peanuts, cheese, Shell-fish, prawns, nuts, berries
  • Pollen
  • Insect bites
  • Drugs like ACE inhibitors, NSAID’s, sulfa, penicillin and other antibiotics

Hereditary angioedema is also a possibility, though it is rare

Immediate medical attention is warranted as it can become life threatening. Treatment with corticosteroids along with epinephrine shots may be required.


Infections (e.g. Cold sore caused by Herpes simplex) – Swelling of lips can be caused by bacteria or viruses or fungi. Herpes simplex virus infection causes cold sores on the lips. Dry lips with cracks on the lips can facilitate the entry of germs and spread the infection. Lip infections usually present with swelling, redness of lips, pain with cracks and bleeding. Treatment varies depending on the cause.

Chapped lips – It is a condition causing dry lips due to weather conditions or lack of self care for lips. It presents with cracked lips, swelling, dryness, sores, bleeding and flaking. Causes of chapped lips include:

Dry Lips
  • Certain medications like lithium, vitamin A and chemotherapy drugs
  • Frequent sun exposure in summer and lack of humidity in winter
  • Frequent licking of lips which results in lack of moisture

Nutritional deficiencies – Certain vitamins and minerals are necessary for lip health. These include B complex vitamins (B2, 3, 6), and vitamin A. One of the minerals necessary for lip care is zinc. Deficiency in this mineral causes dry, swollen, cracked lips and tongue. Foods rich in these vitamins and minerals should be included in the diet to avoid lip problems.

Lip Health

Trauma & Injuries – Trauma to the lips due to an injury such as fall or due to assault or due to taking in hot liquids or food is not uncommon and can cause swelling and mild pain. Usually this can be managed with cold packs. However, if this leads to bleeding, severe swelling, pain and sometimes mild fever, then further evaluation is required to check for infection or severe injury. Cosmetic procedures like lip enhancement surgeries can also result in lip swelling.

Chelitis – Chelitis is severe dryness of lips with cracks in the corners of the mouth as well as on the lips. It is often seen in a condition called Crohn’s disease and sometimes after dental procedures. It presents with lumpy lips, plaques or ulcers on the lips which are red in color.


Lip cancer – A localized swelling may appear on the lip, which may spread to the surrounding parts and ulcerate. A biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Conditions that cause generalized swelling of the body – Conditions that cause generalized fluid accumulation and swelling in the body may also result in swelling of the lips. These conditions include kidney failure, liver failure or heart failure.

Melkersson-Rosenthal Syndrome (MRS) – This is a rare syndrome where the patient has the triad of facial paralysis, chronic edema of the lip, and a fissured tongue.


  1. Angioedema - (http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Angioedema/Pages/Introduction.aspx)
  2. Cheilitis granulomatosa - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22031641)

Citations   close

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Dr. Talla Veena. (2015, January 12). Swollen Lips | Lip Edema Symptom Evaluation. Medindia. Retrieved on Jul 06, 2022 from https://www.medindia.net/symptoms/swollen-lips.htm.

  • MLA

    Dr. Talla Veena. "Swollen Lips | Lip Edema Symptom Evaluation". Medindia. Jul 06, 2022. <https://www.medindia.net/symptoms/swollen-lips.htm>.

  • Chicago

    Dr. Talla Veena. "Swollen Lips | Lip Edema Symptom Evaluation". Medindia. https://www.medindia.net/symptoms/swollen-lips.htm. (accessed Jul 06, 2022).

  • Harvard

    Dr. Talla Veena. 2021. Swollen Lips | Lip Edema Symptom Evaluation. Medindia, viewed Jul 06, 2022, https://www.medindia.net/symptoms/swollen-lips.htm.

Post a Comment

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.

Recommended Reading
Health Topics A - Z

    What's New on Medindia
    Top 9 Reasons Why We Should Practice Kindness
    Top 10 Vitamin B12 Foods for Vegetarians - Slideshow
    Targeted Screening Program Beneficial for Prostate Cancer Screening
    View all

    Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

    Most Popular on Medindia

    Find a Hospital Drug - Food Interactions Diaphragmatic Hernia Sanatogen Find a Doctor Calculate Ideal Weight for Infants Accident and Trauma Care Turmeric Powder - Health Benefits, Uses & Side Effects Blood Pressure Calculator Iron Intake Calculator

    Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

    © All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2022

    This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use