Whilst eczema on the skin and scalp is somewhat common, it can also affect the lips, where it’s particularly uncomfortable and causes redness, dryness and flaking.
As Dr Emma Wedgeworth explains, eczema on the lips develops for two key reasons. Firstly, it can be caused by the skin drying out excessively and secondly, immune cells which cause inflammation could be to blame because they result in redness and irritation.
“Sometimes there is an external cause triggering lip eczema such as cold weather, irritant skincare, indoor heating and air conditioning,” says Dr Wedgeworth.
“Sometimes, eczema is an intrinsic problem within us, with some people genetically prone to eczema because their skin doesn’t hold water in as well and their skin’s immune system produces more inflammatory cells.”
She believes we can manage lip eczema in a number of ways. “Firstly, try and avoid triggers where possible,” she says. Dr Wedgeworth points out that licking your lips repeatedly is a common cause for lip eczema so definitely try and kick this habit. “Up to a quarter of cases may be associated with an allergy; culprits include lipstick, toothpaste, metals in dental implants and then some unusual causes that you might not think about such as nail varnishes,” she adds.
Dr Wedgeworth says that using a moisturising lip product is an essential part of preventing and treating lip eczema. “It helps in a number of ways: soothing and intensifying hydration, as well as providing a seal and locking in more moisture,” she said.
“Look for ingredients like mineral oil, lanolin and cocoa butter, which can boost your skin’s natural moisturising factors. Try a product like Blistex’s Med Plus and reapply a generous amount regularly. Overnight is also a great time to boost skin hydration.”
If avoiding triggers and moisturising regularly doesn’t fix it, see your doctor because you may need stronger anti-inflammatory treatments.