Read our article on risks and possible causes of crusty lips. Crusts on lips may form on around mouth including the corners and lip border.
- Who gets crusty lips?
- Crusty Lips Pictures
- Why people get crusty lips – causes of crusty lips
- Other potential risk factors
- Diagnosis of crusty lips (differential)
- Treatment or cure including OTC and prescription
- Natural or Home remedies for mild cases of crusting on lips
- Other considerable remedies
Who gets crusty lips?
Crusty lips is not only a problem in humans but is observed in animals, but for various reasons people can face this problem.
“For the last two days I have woken up with a yellow, crumbly crust covering my lips. I have been applying Vaseline liberally, and while that helps keeps my lips nice and moist, I still have this crust developing and I often feel as though my lips are weeping or sweating.[Source: www.medhelp.org]
Crusty Lips Pictures
Why people get crusty lips – causes of crusty lipsWho do my lips begin to crust over? Formation of “lip crusts” or lip crusting can be mild or severe depending on the risks or cause.
Factitious cheilitis could be described as an uncommon presentation of a lip dermatitis with “dryness, scaling, and fissuring of the lips resulting from mannerisms like biting or frequent licking.” [www.e-ijd.org]
Notably, individuals who have been diagnosed of factitious cheilitis, it has been found out that some had factitious disorders.
In simpler terms, people with factitious disorder do something knowingly or deliberate a situation by themselves to create those symptoms so that they appear to get sick or hurt.
In this case of factitious cheilitis, there is a deliberate manipulation of the lips by the “sufferer”. However, in some cases, lip biting, picking, or lip licking disorder (unconscious lip licking) may be the underlying mechanism for lip trauma and crust formation.
These symptoms (as described) are as per the cases reported and those suspected of factitious cheilitis so far. These include:
- Self-inflicted lesions (non-nodular)
- Multiple fissures
- Frequent bleeding involving the lower lips
- Very thick lip crusts
- Hemorrhagic crusting on the lips
Hemorrhagic crusting gives the appearance of semi-solid to solid layers of blood or serum (see picture)
Other symptoms (as studied) show a great desire by the sufferer to fulfil whatever is causing their personality disturbances indicated by things like:
- Seeking emotional attention away from target
- Competing with the target/rival
- Emotional instability
- Poor relation with other people
- Self-harm with one’s awareness
According to the report by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, some cases of exfoliative cheilitis may also be factitious.
Impetigo is a bacterial infection of the skin which is most common among children.
- A bullae (bullous: singular) is term used to refer to a vesicle or fluid-containing lesion larger than 5mm.
There are two forms of impetigo infectious – namely bullous and non-bullous impetigo. In many cases, bullous impetigo is caused by S. aureus.
The face, hands and feet are mostly affected by bullous impetigo.
- Small lesions in form of pustules or vesicle
- Clear yellow or cloudy fluid in the vesicles would be seen
When removed, a moist shallow erosion is left on the affected area.
A form of impetigo that presents with crusting is ecthyma. Ecthyma is less common but can when infection occurs there is penetration into deeper skin layers.
This form of impetigo may affect the lip border or vermillion.
On hands and feet, there will be presence of painful sores. These sores will develop into ulcers before crusting over even if treatment is given promptly. The skin crust that form are often thick and grey-yellow in appearance.
Moving on, another cause and risk for crusty lips is angular cheilitis. It is the inflammation of the mouth corner or lip corners of either way.
The occurrence of angular cheilitis is more often associated with fungal infection. Nevertheless, it may be caused by bacteria or virus.
This condition is more common since it affects many people.
Signs and symptoms
The symptoms linked to angular cheilitis causes lip discomforts. These include:
- Presence of deep cracks on one or both mouth corners
- Lip inflammation or “burning,” painful sensations
- Very dry, crusty lips with scaly appearance
- Redness and itchy feeling
- A bad mouth taste
Many people who experience these symptoms have hard time during meals. Sometimes the cracks start to weep or have minor bleeding.
Additional information plus for you about angular cheilitis.
- Angular cheilitis can lead to chapped lips
- Many people think angular cheilitis is contagious
- Bacterial or viral infection can also be underlying reason for symptoms of angular cheilitis
- Severe Iron or Zinc deficiency can also be manifested in dry cracked lip corners
- Exposure of lips to allergy sources, sun heat and extreme environmental conditions can worsen angular cheilitis symptoms
Complications of angular cheilitis
Angular cheilitis produces no complications once it has been diagnosed and treated.
For many people, topical treatment of angular cheilitis gives good results. Under normal conditions, the symptoms are expected to go away within 1 week or two, if drugs are well administered.
Even though, if you do not take appropriate measures and proper care for the lips, you may notice your lips start to turn dark at some point.
Other potential risk factors
These include the following.
Lip dermatitis is a chronic condition characterized by persistent lip inflammation. There are various forms with which this condition presents itself including lip licker dermatitis and eczematous cheilitis.
The most common cause of lip dermatitis include atopic dermatitis and irritants. While some forms are most commonly seen in children (lip-licker’s dermatitis), this problem may affect anyone.
Signs and symptoms
Triggers for lip dermatitis will determine symptoms. In many cases, symptoms would vary with severity of the condition. These are:
- Dryness of lips
- Thickened lip skin
- Scaly appearance of lip skin
Sometimes crack on lips may appear.
Therefore, as a risk factor for crusty lips, it is worth to note that the more you expose to the trigger the more persistent your symptoms become. Crusty lips due to lip dermatitis is thought to be mild should it occur.
Persistent lip sores or lesions
Another possible risk of crusty lips include persistent lip trauma-causing injury and frequent or recurrent cold sores on lips.
Crusty lips due to persistent lip (mouth sores) is owed to frequent secondary infections which are most likely to affect the healing of the wounds.
Diagnosis of crusty lips (differential)
Diagnosis may involve the following:
- Skin examination
- You may be asked about family or personal history of oral infections
- Ask for laboratory tests
- Your doctor may carry out various procedures to confirm tests
- Take examination on culture swabs from the affected areas
Besides the physical examination of your lips there are important medical reasons for differential diagnosis.
- Helps determine the most appropriate form of treatment/therapy
- To reduce duration for treatment
- Response of infection causing agents to medication
- Possibility of future episodes
Before a medical evaluation, some of the conditions that will necessitate differential diagnosis include: allergic contact dermatitis, perioral dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, herpes simplex, scabies, candida cheilitis, actinic cheilitis, exfoliative cheilitis, cheilitis glandularis, etc.
Differential diagnosis helps your doctor with examination or evaluation of the suspected infection or underlying condition. This needs to be more accurate and done thoroughly.
Treatment or cure including OTC and prescription
Treatment is prioritized not only to get rid of the symptoms but to cure a possible underlying disease, improve on symptoms of chronic conditions or both.
Treatments that fall into this category must be used according to a doctor’s instructions. Therefore, your doctors should first have examined your lip condition or treated you before.
Common treatment forms may be in form of creams or oral tablets your doctor can prescribe such as:
- Hydrocortisone creams – for severe inflammation
- Ketoconazole, Miconazole or Clotrimazole creams (esp. when your condition indicates a lip fungus growth after examination
- Other antifungal agents that may be prescribed are Monistat and Nizoral
- Antibacterial creams, oral drugs and tablets
More importantly, all prescribed medicines or treatments should be finished in full dose. Strictly, adhere to duration and avoid other drugs/drug abuse (e.g. alcohol) that can potentially interact with your current medications.
Many OTC treatments are not prescribed doses. There are different ways with which medicines available over the counter can be used.
- Topical antiseptics to help prevent secondary infection and keep off the causing germs
- Topical steroid ointments
Doctors may recommended OTC medicines. If there is any no change, you need to see your doctor again.
Natural or Home remedies for mild cases of crusting on lips
Lip crusting might be mild but still cause lip discomforts especially if the problem presents with cracks or open sores. Here are some of the remedies you can try at home.
IMPORTANT: It is more practical to apply these remedies after consulting your GP or personal doctor.
a. Olive oil or vegetable oil
Why you need olive or vegetable oil before bed time
- To promote hydration to dry, crusty lip area
- To quicken healing of cracks on the mouth corner
Honey is a perfect healer for closing up mild cracks on lips especially the corner of lips. It does not cause irritation and will help fight bacterial agents.
c. Sea buckthorn oil
Sea buckthorn oil is a herbal oil extracted from the Sea buckthorn plant. This oil works like tea tree oil but can boost immune function by protecting body against bacterial infections.
If you acquire it from a drugstore, use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
d. Petroleum jelly
Applying pure plain petroleum jelly (e.g. Vaseline) is a simple before-bed remedy for dry, chapped lips. Its quality hydrating capability enables your lips to lock in moisture all through night.
This remedy works when you have confirmed that lip dryness and cracking are not as a result of an infection like yeast infection or angular cheilitis. (Petroleum products do not kill infection causing germs.)
Beewax is an ideal remedy for very dry lips (chapped lips). However, before treat chapped lips with beeswax, try and figure out the possible cause or culprit.
f. Consider your special dietary needs
If your tongue, eyes or nails cannot be helpful in revealing more about your health, your lips can tell.
Therefore, to associate every single lip problem such as cracking to infection is like to overgeneralize or ignore other possible culprits such as vitamin deficiency.
For instance, lip cracking could be an indication of a poor diet. At times it is hard to figure it out but your nutritionist has many of the answers.
If your problem does not resolve – however much mild or less serious your problem appears to be – the first and best step to take is to seek medical attention from your primary care provider.
Other considerable remedies
See your health care provider if you have persistent lip sores that will not heal on your lips.
Tips to prevent chapped crusty lips
If you have chronic, dry chapped lips think of these as simple preventive tips:
- Use a sunscreen on your lips when outside in sunny weather
- Avoid excessive sun exposure.
- Consider a lip balm or balm-based lip oil before going out or when you have to be outdoors in dry, cold weather
- Try a milder toothpaste
- Try to raise and maintain a bit higher level of humidity in living rooms
- Drink additional fluids or more water most of the winter months.
Failure to keenly address both the causes and risks for crusty lips may lead to complex symptoms including the entire oral cavity.
Coupled with chronic dryness, however much mild, crusting on lips will absolutely render less admirable and very dull. You would be adrift for kissable lips would be a dream.
Our Article Resources and Citations
- Chapped lips: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002036.htm
- Factitious lip crusting. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6972736
- Cracked Corners of Lips. Donna Cosmato. http://skincare.lovetoknow.com/Cracked_Corners_of_Lips
- Crusty Lips: Healthsaline
- Palanisamy A, Subramani N, Reji S, Kothandapany S. Recurrent bleeding lip in an adolescent female – Chasing the cause. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2016 [cited 2017 Jun 24];61:123. Available from: http://www.e-ijd.org/text.asp?2016/61/1/123/174142
- Exfoliative Cheilitis: Report of a case. Shani Ann Mani & Ban Tawfeek Shareef. https://cda-adc.ca/jcda/vol-73/issue-7/629.html. JCDA. September 2007, Vol. 73, No. 7
- Diseases and conditions causing lesions of the oral mucosa. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2000. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. NIDCR. Accessed online on 24 June 2017.