Common swollen lip causes include allergic reaction, infection, and trauma. People who are sensitive to certain foods, such as peanuts, can experience lip swelling, as can those who are allergic to animal dander. Although in many cases, lip swelling is mild, in severe cases it can be associated with throat swelling and difficulty breathing. Other causes for swollen lips include lipsticks containing products that purposely "plump up" the lips, and lipstick allergies.
Lip piercings can sometimes cause swollen lips, as well. Oral tissues are very delicate, and when something compromises that tissue, the inflammatory process can take over. Although lip swelling caused by piercing is usually temporary, it can persist and even be related to an infected piercing. If this occurs, the person should seek medical attention for removal of the piercing and antibiotic treatment. If treatment is delayed, the lip tissue may become permanently scarred.
Sometimes, swollen lip causes are related to sun exposure. The lips can become sunburned just like any other part of the body, and in addition to causing lip swelling, sunburns can also cause them to burn and peel. Other swollen lip causes can also include cold sores, which are related to the herpes virus. Treatments for cold sores include topical cold sore creams and ointments, which can dramatically reduce symptoms of lip swelling, tingling, and itching.
Trauma to the oral cavity can also be one of least recognized swollen lip causes. Tooth extraction and other dental procedures not only cause inflammation to the inside of the oral cavity, but the outside as well, including the lips and face. To resolve lip swelling in these cases, ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs can be used. The dentist should be consulted prior to taking these medications because they can interfere with blood clotting and cause an increase in bleeding.
People who are prone to allergies and swollen lips can sometimes prevent symptoms by taking oral antihistamines. Although antihistamines are effective in treating symptoms such as lip swelling, throat and nose itching, and runny nose, they can cause important side effects. These side effects include profound drowsiness, lack of coordination, diminished reflexes, and urinary retention. In addition, dry mouth, headache, and stomach upset can also occur. Also, people taking these drugs should be very cautious when driving a car.
When someone cannot determine the cause of his swollen lips, he should visit his health care provider. The physician will probably perform a physical examination, ask about personal and lifestyle habits, and take a detailed oral history from the patient. If needed, he might recommend blood tests or even refer the patient to an allergy specialist, who may be able to determine if the symptoms are allergy related.