A lip infection is more common than you may think. Lip infections are wounds like canker sores and cold sores, and they can result from numerous causes, including viruses and fungal infections. They may also be caused by a deficiency in nutrients, and even cold weather can trigger infections and lip sores.
In this article, we’ll discuss the internal and external environmental factors that lead to infection on lips. From the itchy, red, or swollen symptoms to potential home remedies, we will help you to identify the cause of your lip infection and sores and learn how to treat them at home.
Lip Infection Causes
An infected lip may be difficult to treat without first determining the root cause. Infectious agents like viruses, fungi, and bacteria; vitamin deficiencies; and even dentures can cause lip infections.
The most prevalent and well-known virus that can infect your lips is oral herpes. Herpes simplex virus type 1 causes cold sores around the mouth area and is very communicable. These sores can be triggered by cold weather, stress, dental work, and lip trauma, among other things.
The infection can be passed on to others through skin-to-skin contact or even contact with a personal item used by an individual infected with the virus, like a towel or toothbrush.
Herpes simplex type 2, which is most often linked to genital herpes, can infect the lips following oral sex activity.
2. Fungal Infection
Fungus-based infection, specifically a Candida albicans (yeast) infection, is a major lip infection issue. Yeast infection on lips and in the mouth can cause sores of different types. The organisms can dry out the lips until they crack and break open. They can also cause oral candidiasis, or thrush, which creates small sores around the mouth area.
A yeast infection can also lead to angular cheilitis, or perleche, which is painful inflammation of the corners of the mouth and lips. This infection is more common among those who wear dentures and older people in general. As the skin folds around the mouth deepen with age, saliva may accumulate and aggravate the lips and mouth.
3. Nutritional Deficiencies
While nutritional deficiencies are not a direct cause of lip infections, they can allow them a head start. Being deficient in minerals and vitamins like iron, zinc, or riboflavin (B-2) can weaken the body’s immune system, making it much easier for bacterial and candida infections such as perleche to take root.
In addition to these causes, there are also a number of situations that can possibly leave the door open for infection to take place.
4. Winter Climate
The extremely cold temperatures, dry air, and harsh winds of winter may all work to activate cold sores and other infections. Frigid outdoor environments may shock the body and boost stress levels, leading to a cold sore outbreak.
The severe winter wind will often leave the lips dry and chapped, making the area more welcoming for invaders. The lips can crack and split, creating crevices for herpes or yeast infections to get a foothold. Similarly, the warm, dry air from heating systems allows viruses to spread.
Finally, cold and flu season peaks during winter, and these viruses have been known to trigger cold sores.
5. Citrus Fruits
Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit may be the source of a rare allergic reaction that produces symptoms similar to those of lip infections, but is not a true infection. However, the swelling; dry, flaky skin; and sores caused by citrus allergies around the mouth can often split open and possibly become infected.
Symptoms of Lip Infection
There are a few symptoms of lip infection that are pretty clear indications of an issue.
1. Swollen Lips
Swollen lips are often a sign of infection. This swelling can affect both lips or can be localized to either the bottom lip or top lip. The swelling itself is the result of a build-up of fluid in the lips or the inflammation of the lip tissue.
Another common symptom of infected lips is blisters. The blisters will often form and split. This leaves open, red sores around the mouth, and often in the corners of the mouth.
Sores can occur with infected lips. These lip sores can often be fluid filled. These sores can become swollen, tender, and painful, and may release a contagious liquid if the sore opens.
Home Remedies to Cure Lip Infection
Infected lips can be quite painful and are not particularly pleasant to look at. Luckily, there are a number of home remedies that might be able to help quell the symptoms of your lip infection, as well help to cure the infection in its entirety.
1. Castor Oil
Castor oil has often been used for its anti-inflammatory abilities and natural healing properties, due, in part, to the oil’s large amounts of ricinoleic acid. The oil can be used by gently massaging the oil into the infected areas.
2. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that has been used for everything from infections to dry cuticles. Among its many properties, tea tree oil is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal as a result of a chemical composition that makes it similar to peroxide. It also contains terpenes, which are thought to be good for fighting bacteria and fungus.
Tea tree oil is very strong, so it is best advised to dilute it with either coconut oil or water. Apply the oil or oil mixture to the infected area and gently massage it in. Do this right before bed and allow it to sit overnight.
Yogurt may be able to help clear out a fungal lip infection. It contains probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, which could help heal the lips and eliminate fungal infection. It’s as a simple as massaging natural yogurt into the infected lips, allowing it to sit for a few moments, and then washing it off with cold water and a cloth.
The lactic acid found within milk may help reduce swelling and promote the healing of infected lips. Massage milk into the infected lips and leave it there for at least 45 minutes. After that time, wipe the milk off with cold water and a towel.
5. Black Tea
Black tea is used by many people to reduce swelling. The tea gains its astringent abilities from a compound called tannin. Tannins bind to certain proteins and chemicals and, in this case, may help to reduce the swelling of an infected lip.
Make a cup of tea and remove the tea bag. Rub the tea onto your lips and allow it to dry; then, wipe off the tea with cold water and a towel. Alternatively, you can use the tea bag and rub it directly on the infected areas.
6. Gargling with Salt Water
Salt is antiseptic, and could help get rid of infection and inflammation. The easiest way to use salt is to gargle with salt water.
Mix half a teaspoon of salt with one cup of water. Gargle with the mixture for 10 minutes, four to five times a day. Gargling the water may help clear out any bacteria in the mouth and throat that may be causing the infection as it hits the lip.
7. Garlic and Onion
Both garlic and onions have antibacterial properties. Using them as a paste on your lips could potentially help reduce swelling and get rid of the bacteria that may be causing the issue in the first place.
Mince one clove of garlic and one small onion and dump them into a bowl. In the bowl, crush the ingredients into a paste—a pestle and mortar work rather well for this. Apply the paste to the infected lip and allow it to sit for approximately 15 minutes. Repeat this process once or twice a day until the infection clears.
8. Reduce Sugar Intake
It is something that many of us should do to improve overall health. But in this case, reducing your sugar intake might help “starve” the infection. Sugar “feeds” fungal infections; therefore, lowering your sugar intake reduces the amount of food that the infection has to grow and multiply.
Decreasing your sugar intake may reduce swelling and infection, and in some cases, help end the lip infection completely.
9. Increase Iron Intake
Iron helps the body fight infections, especially those of a fungal nature. Increasing your iron intake can fuel the body’s immune response in fighting the infection. You can boost your iron supply by eating leafy greens, beans, and peas. Supplements can also be taken.
Turmeric has long been used in traditional medicines for its medicinal properties. For lip infections, we concentrate on turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. Turmeric may help inhibit the growth of fungus and possibly even kill it off, so the infection will end. It could also help reduce the swelling because it reportedly can block NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of cells and turns on genes related to inflammation.
Turmeric can be made into a paste by mixing two tablespoons of turmeric powder with a little bit of water to make a paste. Massage the paste into the infected area and allow to sit until it dries. Wipe off the paste with cold water and a cloth, and repeat the process once or twice a day.
11. Avoid Biting the Lips
Biting the infected lips may only make things worse. The act can spread the infection into the mouth and throat, as well as aggravate the infection, sores, etc.
12. Avoid Spicy Food
If you eat spicy food on a regular basis, you know that it can make your lips tingle and burn. Spicy food can simply irritate the existing soreness of a lip infection, so it is best to avoid it until the infection has cleared.
13. Increase Intake of Fluid
Keeping yourself well hydrated is always important, and the increase of fluids will also help flush out the excess minerals and keep the body’s systems running smoothly, which can allow for quicker healing.
14. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a succulent plant that contains salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a compound that promotes healing in the skin, hence why it is often used to treat sunburns, burns, and cuts. Try using aloe vera gel on the infected area of your lips, especially when it comes to blisters and sores.
Take a few fresh aloe vera leaves and place them in the refrigerator. Let them cool for a couple of hours before taking them out. Snip off the end of a leaf and squeeze out the gel inside. Apply the gel to your lip and allow it to dry. Wipe off with cold water and a towel after at least 15 minutes.
Herbal remedies may sometimes trigger allergic reactions or interact negatively with prescription medications. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist before trying any new natural treatment.
Infected Lips May Be Easily Treated
Infected lips can be painful and embarrassing. They may be swollen, dry, and cracked, or filled with open sores and blisters. Furthermore, it is often difficult to pinpoint the underlying cause, whether oral herpes or a yeast infection.
Many causes can be easily treated, possibly with the simple home remedies that we have listed above. It is important to take the time and treat infection. And if the natural treatments are not working after a week or two, see a doctor to take a deeper look.
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