Why Are My Lips Itching?
Lip allergies are common among children. There are many reasons why your child’s lips may itch or become red. One of the most common causes is food allergy. Other possible causes include: sun exposure; moldy foods; dust mites; bacteria and viruses such as Epstein Barr virus (EBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV). Some of these conditions can cause itching and redness in other parts of the body too. However, if your child has all three types of allergies, then they will have eczema on their lips.
What Causes Eczema On Lips?
The exact reason behind eczema on lips is not known yet. Scientists do not fully understand what triggers the skin cells to become inflamed or develop into rashes and sores. They believe that there could be genetic factors involved. Also, environmental factors like stress, poor nutrition and exposure to allergens can trigger the development of eczema.
How Is Eczema Diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a physical examination before diagnosing your child with eczema on lips. Your child may need to see a dermatologist if they have any signs of infection or inflammation in their mouth or throat. Your doctor may also run some tests to rule out other medical conditions like HIV and vitamin deficiency.
What Are the Treatments for Eczema?
Eczema on lips is not contagious, and it generally tends to resolve on its own within a year. Your doctor will help you manage the symptoms of eczema on lips. The treatment options depend on the age of your child and the severity of the condition. The treatment options may include:
Oral antibiotics to treat the staphylococcus aureus (staph) infection.
Oral steroids to reduce the inflammation and manage the itching sensation.
Vitamin supplements like A, D, E and K if your child is deficient in them.
Moisturizing the lips with a bland, fragrance-free lip balm.
Avoid using any other ointments, creams and lotions on the lips since they may irritate the skin.
Preventing the skin from becoming dry is helpful for people with eczema, as this prevents flare-ups.
Covering the lips when outside to protect from the sun’s rays. Sunscreen should be applied to your child’s lips before going out in the sun.
Wash your child’s bedding and clothing in hot water to prevent the spread of bacteria and fungi.
Use a humidifier in your home to help keep the air moist.
Taking 1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil twice a day or 50 mg of zinc can be beneficial for people with eczema as it helps reduce the occurrence of flare-ups and inflammation.
Taking a probiotic supplement is an effective way to prevent eczema as it helps restore the natural flora in the gut.
Dermatologists are trained to treat the symptoms of eczema but not the root cause of it. If your child’s condition doesn’t improve with the above treatments, have them see an allergist to determine if they have any food or other allergies.
The information in this factsheet is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor, and is for educational purposes only. Please consult your doctor for further questions.
Does your child suffer from eczema and has regular flare-ups?
If yes, then you have probably tried various ointments and other over-the-counter (OTC) medications to get rid of it. While these may provide some relief now, they will not cure the root cause of eczema that is why most of the affected children eventually outgrow it when their bodies become stronger.
How does eczema start and how is it different from dermatitis?
Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin, which may or may not be due to an allergic reaction. Eczema is a type of dermatitis that causes the skin to become dry and itchy. The most common areas for eczematous reactions are the inside of the elbows, the backs of the knees, hands, and feet. It is also common in the scalp and neck. Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis.
A lot of children develop eczema early in life, usually before they are 5 years old. It can last beyond childhood. Itching is usually the first symptom and is often followed by redness, dry skin, and cracked patches. Small bumps may also appear and be more noticeable after sweating or after bathing.
Eczema can afflict people of all ages and genders, but some are more likely to develop it such as:
People with family members who have allergic diseases
Women during pregnancy
People with seasonal allergies (e.g. pollen) or food allergies
People who work in certain occupations that require constant hand-washing, such as health care or food service jobs
It is important to determine the cause of eczema to treat it properly. Since eczema is a type of allergic reaction, the most common allergens are:
Pet dander (found in animal-based foods)
Plant pollens (e.g. from trees, weeds, and grasses)
Dust mites (tiny bugs that feed on dead skin cells)
While there is no cure for eczema, there are some treatment options to manage its symptoms. Eczema can reoccur during flare-ups even when the original cause has been treated and removed.
Keep your child’s skin hydrated properly. Apply a moisturizer as soon as signs of eczema appear. It is best to use those that contain:
Creams and ointments containing petroleum jelly or mineral oil are effective at preventing water loss from the skin. These work best for wet eczema.
Creams and ointments containing lanolin, calendula, or dimethicone (a silicon-based oil) are helpful for dry eczema.
Creams and ointments that contain glucocorticoids are very effective, but may be more difficult to use on children because of possible side effects. It is important to follow the instructions when using these medicines.
Corticosteroid creams are not recommended for children under 2 years of age.
When using a product containing a corticosteroid, apply it sparingly to the affected areas and only as directed. Do not apply it to large areas of skin, especially the face, chest, or back.
Gloves and/or socks made from synthetic materials (not wool) can help protect skin when it is very dry or bothersome.
Wash your child’s sheets, pajamas, towels, and clothing in hot water once a week. It is also helpful to ask other caregivers such as child care workers or teachers to do the same.
Children with eczema can often have difficulties during certain times of year. The following may help:
Use humidifiers in your child’s bedroom. Be sure to clean them regularly, or use a filter to prevent the growth of mold.
Be cautious about using artificial indoor heat sources such as space heaters and electric blankets. These may worsen symptoms. If you must use them, make sure they are at a safe distance from your child’s blankets and bedding.
Wash your child’s clothes in hot water more than once a week. This will remove the dead skin cells that can build up in clothing and on the body.
Avoid using baby wipes that contain alcohol, which may dry out the skin.
Sunscreens with a high sun protection factor (SPF), such as SPF 30 or higher, may offer some protection for eczema. Apply the sunscreen generously before your child goes outdoors. It should be reapplied every two hours, or immediately after swimming or heavy sweating.
Try not to place your child in a swimming pool that is heavily chlorinated. If your child is in the water for an extensive period of time, the chlorine can irritate their skin.
Outdoor Air Quality
You may wish to contact your local authorities to see if there have been reports of polluted air in your area. Pollutants in the air, such as ozone, may worsen eczema. It is best to stay indoors on days that there are warnings about high levels of pollutants in the outdoor air.
If someone in your family has allergies, such as hay fever, you child may be more likely to develop eczema. If you believe this is the case, it is important to have the whole family checked by an allergist (allergist). Allergists can perform tests to find out exactly what your family is allergic to.
Parents of children with eczema should also have allergy testing. Even if both parents have seasonal allergies, they may not be allergic to the same things.
For some people, stress worsens their eczema. If you think this may be the case for you or your child, there are many ways to reduce stress in your life.
Stress reduction techniques, such as regular exercise, meditation, or deep breathing, can be very helpful. Sometimes it is helpful to talk to a counselor or therapist to address the sources of your stress.
Eczema is rarely related to food allergies. However, there are many foods that do not agree with some individuals. If you notice your eczema symptoms get worse after eating certain foods, discuss this with your doctor or nutritionist.
You may wish to keep a food diary for one week. Write down everything you eat and drink, and note whether your eczema gets worse afterwards.
Have a list of questions ready for your next doctor or nutrition appointment including:
What foods should I avoid?
Should I take probiotics or prebiotics?
Should I eat fermented foods, such as yogurt?
Is there anything I can put on my skin to help with this eczema?
Should I take nutritional supplements? Which ones? What dosage? How long do I need to take them?
Do you recommend any lifestyle changes?
Have you treated patients with eczema as successful as you have mine?
How many patients with eczema have you treated? How long have you been practicing? Are you board certified?
There are several alternative medicines that can help with eczema.
Homeopathy – There is no scientific proof that homeopathic medicines work for eczema. They are considered safe and without side effects, except perhaps a worsening of symptoms (called a “healing crisis”) immediately after taking it.
Acupuncture – There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of acupuncture for eczema. Acupuncture also involves the risk of infection and there is a small risk that a needle could break off in the skin.
Chinese Herbal Medicine – There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of Chinese herbal medicine for eczema.
Thyme – There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of thyme oil for eczema.
Other alternative medicines, such as essential oils and soaps, have not been scientifically tested. They may be safe, but there is no proof that they work.
What Else Should I Know?
Most people with eczema learn how to manage their condition over time. Creating a treatment plan that works for you and your family is an important part of living successfully with eczema.
Here are a few tips to help you manage your eczema:
Don’t scratch! Scratching can make your eczema worse and can cause infections. You may want to wear gloves at night to help prevent the urge to scratch.
Sources & references used in this article:
Itching for a solution by P Lapsley – Bmj, 2005 – bmj.com
How can I talk if my lips don’t move?: inside my autistic mind by TR Mukhopadhyay – 2011 – books.google.com
Quality of life in childhood, adolescence and adult food allergy: patient and parent perspectives by A Stensgaard, C Bindslev‐Jensen… – Clinical & …, 2017 – Wiley Online Library
Assessment of scar quality after cleft lip closure by FA Frans, PPM van Zuijlen… – The Cleft palate …, 2012 – journals.sagepub.com
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) relieved itching in a patient with chronic neuropathic pain by H Knotkova, RK Portenoy… – The Clinical Journal of …, 2013 – journals.lww.com
Management of latex reactions in the occupational setting by PV Moore, CM Gliniecki – AAOHN Journal, 1998 – journals.sagepub.com
Efficacy of Oral Isotretinoin in Combination with Desloratadine in the Treatment of Common Vulgaris Acne in Vietnamese Patients by TN Van, LD Thi, HN Trong, TC Van… – … journal of medical …, 2019 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Immediate reactions to fruits and vegetables by M Hannuksela, A Lahti – Contact dermatitis, 1977 – Wiley Online Library
Cheese Itch and “Itchy Cargoes” in Reference to Workmen’s Compensation by JA Nixon – 1944 – journals.sagepub.com