Most people have experienced the sensation of a "fat lip," where it feels as though your lip is swollen and puffy, usually the result of direct contact. Although an ill-advised dodgeball game can definitely leave you with a fat lip, swollen lip causes are actually more complicated than just a trauma from a rubber ball. In some cases, a swollen lip could be a symptom of a more serious issue. Consider the causes and, if necessary, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about lip swelling and how to cope.
4 Causes for Swollen Lips
It's true that one of the more common causes of swollen lips is trauma directly to the mouth. The skin on your lips is very thin, and when your mouth is hit with enough force, blood rushes to the area and causes that swollen appearance. Sometimes, this trauma only causes swelling, but other contact can result in broken skin, and because of a high amount of blood flow in the area, this can result in what seems like an alarming amount of bleeding. Luckily, the University of Rochester Medical Center notes that most cuts and bruises to the mouth area can be cared for at home. First, examine the area for broken skin. If it's just a swollen lip, apply ice to help reduce swelling. If the skin is broken, wash your hands and apply a clean, cold compress to stop the bleeding. See your doctor if the bleeding doesn't stop in 5 to 10 minutes or if the cuts are longer than one-half inch, were caused by a bite, or have debris inside.
Swollen lips that are the result of allergies is a condition known as allergic angiodema. When your body comes in contact with allergens, it causes a histamine result in your body that causes fluid to build up underneath skin layers. According to the Mayo Clinic, allergic angiodema is most common with food allergies. Of course, you may not even realize you have a food allergy until you bite into the offending ingredients and experience the swelling in the lips, mouth and throat. For mild allergic reactions, an over-the-counter medicine, such as Benadryl, can help reduce your body's response to antihistamines. If you're at risk for swelling in the throat that cuts off your airways (anaphylaxis), use your prescribed epinephrine auto-injector or seek medical attention immediately.
When your body is fighting an infection, your skin can become inflamed and irritated. This is especially true for the delicate skin on your lips and around your mouth. If you've had a cut on your lips and you're starting to see it become inflamed, swollen, hot to the touch and painful, it could be the result of an infection. Infections occur when healing wounds and blisters become infiltrated with harmful bacteria, hindering the healing process, and sometimes causing severe issues. This could be from your hands or the result of some of the bacteria in your mouth, according to the American Dental Association. The first step to warding off infections is to leave healing cuts alone; never pick at them or pop blisters, which transfers bacteria from your hand to the wound. If you do suspect an infection, see your doctor for antibiotic ointments or medication to stop the infection and promote better healing.
4. Chemical Reaction
Certain caustic chemicals found in things such as cleaning products can cause burns and wounds, especially on your sensitive lip skin. This can result in blistering, swelling and general discomfort. If skin is only red and swollen, apply a cold compress. If skin breaks or develops blisters, however, seek medical attention. This is a sign of a third-degree burn and requires medical attention and often antibiotic ointment to heal.
Swollen lip causes aren't always as cut-and-dried as they appear. Because lip skin is so thin and sensitive, any number of issues could result in that telltale puffy, uncomfortable feeling. Still, as long as you care for the cause properly, swelling in the lips should be a short-term issue.
As always, remember to maintain your oral health with the Colgate Total Toothpaste and Pro-Shield Mouthwash, which prevent plaque, gingivitis and tartar build-up.