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What Causes Tingling Lips?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Tingling lips can be a symptom of allergies, infections, imbalances in blood chemistry, and neurological problems. Numbness, tingling, heat, and other odd sensations in the lips are symptoms, rather than independent conditions, and it is important to see a doctor for evaluation. The doctor can conduct an examination, recommend diagnostic tests, and develop an explanation. Once the doctor determines the cause, it can be treated and the tingling should resolve.

One very common reason to experience tingling lips is food allergies. The lips are sensitive, and when people consume foods they are allergic to, the lips can be the first warning signs. If the lips become tingly or puffy, people should take note of the foods they've recently consumed. Allergies can vary in severity, and sometimes food allergies are limited to some mild discomfort around the lips and mouth. In other cases, the tingling may be followed with more severe allergy symptoms like airway closure and rash.

Infections, particularly with herpes, can also cause tingling lips. People with herpes commonly notice tingling shortly before an outbreak, and other kinds of viral, bacterial, and fungal infections of the mouth can cause tingling as well. The lips may also be itchy. Other signs of infection, like lesions, discolorations, and strong smells may develop as the infectious organism gains a foothold.

Blood chemistry can play a role as well, particularly in the case of changes in calcium levels. Tingling lips may be a sign of hormonal imbalances. Neurological issues like damage to the facial nerves can also cause the condition. Another potential culprit is Raynaud's phenomenon, where the blood vessels spasm in response to cold. The spasms restrict the flow of blood, causing tingling, numbness, and discomfort. People exposed to extreme cold may experience lip tingling without any underlying pathology as their bodies react to the cold.

Sometimes, people develop tingling lips during a panic attack. In panic attacks, the body floods with hormones as a flight or fight response develops. It is common to experience numbness, tingling, and other abnormal sensations in the extremities. The patient may also feel faint, dizzy, or clammy. The physical symptoms of a panic attack may be quite severe, and can be disabling for some patients, making it important to find out why a person experiences such attacks. Medications are available to address the panic attacks when they occur, and patients can also use therapy to explore the underlying causes and develop coping skills to prevent future attacks.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon310886 — On Dec 27, 2012

I have Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes, and I notice that sometimes my lips tingle when my blood sugar is dropping rapidly.

I also had a neurological episode where seven cranial nerves were inflamed. I had facial symptoms where one side of my face appeared to be pulling upward and my mouth and tongue were tingly/almost numb on one side. It felt as though I had been to the dentist and the anesthesia was wearing off.

By wavy58 — On Aug 18, 2011

My sister-in-law had lip tingling before her severe reaction to some seafood. She did not know that she was allergic to it, because it was her first time eating it.

My brother had taken her on a romantic seaside vacation, and he planned to propose to her by the ocean. On the night he planned to pop the question, he had taken her to a wonderful seafood restaurant. She wanted to try something new.

She loved how it tasted, but she said it made her lips feel funny. He told her they did look a little swollen. Suddenly, she asked to go back to the room because she felt ill.

Before they even made it back to the hotel, she had a seizure. He took her straight to the hospital, where they figured out what had happened. She only had to stay overnight to get the toxins out of her system, and he proposed to her the next night, after a nice meal of steak.

By Oceana — On Aug 18, 2011

@lighth0se33 - My lips tingle before my panic attacks arrive, too. My fingers and hands tingle, also. Then, the whole world seems to melt away before me in an illusion.

Sometimes the panic is so severe that it causes me to vomit. I can remember as a child being sick and nauseated almost to the point of vomiting and feeling that same tingling in my fingers that I feel these days. I knew when it happened that there could be no avoiding it.

My lip tingling seems to linger for a minute or so after the attack has passed. It fades out in much the same way it built up.

By StarJo — On Aug 17, 2011

A couple of other things can cause lip tingling, but in these situations, it won’t be a symptom of something greater. When my lips tingle, often it is because of something I can identify easily.

One thing that makes them tingle is eating corn on the cob with salt and pepper. The salt stings my lips a little, and the pepper heats them up with its spiciness. My lips feel a tad swollen and a bit needle-pricked from this.

Another thing is trying on several shades of lipstick and wiping them off. Sometimes, I can’t decide which shade looks best with an outfit unless I try it on, and rubbing my lips with a paper towel in between shades causes them to become kind of numb and tingly.

By lighth0se33 — On Aug 16, 2011

Panic attacks are the worst! When I first started experiencing them, my lips would start to tingle, and I would know that one was coming on in a few seconds.

The tingling was followed by a feeling that I was about to die. I felt overwhelmed and out of place, as though I weren’t really there. I thought maybe it was all a dream, and my terror set in when I realized I was trapped in the dream.

I had to put my head between my knees, think peaceful thoughts, and control my breathing. Once I regained sanity, my lips would stop tingling.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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