By Gary M. White, MD

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Lip dermatitis or cheilitis caused here by allergic contact dermatitis to lipstick.

Lip dermatitis here is used to describe diffusely inflamed upper and lower lips. The main considerations are irritant contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, and atopic dermatitis (here referring to the patient, often an adult whose main manifestation of eczema/atopic dermatitis is the lips). If only the lower lip is involved, sun-induced conditions should be considered, e.g. actinic cheilitis. In children, lip licking is common. Inflamation of the corners of the mouth only is called angular cheilitis.


Both the upper and lower lips are inflamed, red and scaly.


Ask the patient the following:


A patient handout is available. The patient should stop all topical products as well as mouthwashes and toothpaste for two weeks and apply a medium topical steroid ointment, e.g., triamcinolone BID. Tell the patient not to lick, bite, chew, or rub the lips.

Once the patient is better, they may add in one product at a time per week. If the condition persists and the cause is not clear, patch testing may be indicated. For maintenance, liberal use of an ointment or lip balm may be needed. Daily use of tacrolimus may be helpful for patients with atopic dermatitis.

Additional Pictures

Here to airborne allergens in an older woman.
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