Lip Dermatitis

Lip Dermatitis

Eczematous cheilitis or lip dermatitis is inflammation of the lips presenting as redness with dryness and scaling.


It is a common condition and it is usually cause by either internal factor (atopic dermatitis) or external factor (irritant or allergic contact reactions).

  1. Internal factors are due to an inherent characteristic of the person. Most common example is atopicdermatitis (eczema which can run in the family)
  2. External factors are due to something from outside the body. This group can be further subdivided into:
    1. Irritant contact dermatitis – lip licking is the major cause of this type of dermatitis. Other common causes include cosmetics and foods epically spicy food.
    2. Allergic contact cheilitis – due to allergic to certain source. Common sources of allergens include lipsticks and other lip care products, toothpastes and dental materials, foods, medications and nail varnish.

Sometimes no cause can be identified.


Treatment will depend on the cause. Where an external cause has been identified, this should be avoided if possible. If this does not result in improvement, consider another external factor or possible internal (genetic) cause.

Moisturisers (lip balm with no fragrance and colour) can be used to reduce the dryness and scaling.

For more severe cases topical corticosteroids may be use for short period of time.