Lip Swelling and Tingling

by maria | Last Updated: November 7, 2020

Fuller lips of Angelina Jolie or Kylie Jenner might inspire you to augment lips to enhance attractiveness. Fuller lips might help you get the facial golden ratio, but what if you wake up one fine morning with swollen and tingly lips and you don’t know why? A 2010 study suggests that larger lips are more attractive compared to narrow lips, but if you notice sudden swelling and lips tingling then it is time to consult your physician as this could be due to allergy or trauma.

What Happens When Your Lip Swells?


The attractiveness of lips is beyond debate, and one does everything possible to keep it in good shape. But, it could swell due to one reason or the other, and you must know how to deal with the situation at least until you consult the doctor. In most cases, swelling subsides in a few days with some medication, but if it persists, then it might need medical intervention.

Lip swells because of fluid buildup under the skin of your lips or underlying inflammation. The cause of inflammation or fluid formation could vary, and treatment of lip swelling accordingly varies. The anatomy of lips looks simple but it is as complex as any other organ, and it plays a role in speech control, facial expression, and sensory information. The thin skin covers muscles underneath and these muscles have blood vessels. The inner layer is called the oral mucosa, which is part of the mucous membrane of the mouth. In response to allergic reaction or injury, the additional flow of blood makes lips swell.         

Lips Injuries

The soft and delicate structure of the lips is weak as compared to other muscles and cannot withstand the force of the same magnitude. If something hits your lips accidentally and the top layer of skin doesn’t break, then it will swell. This type of swelling, caused by trauma, heals quicker under suitable first aid therapies like an ice pack. But, lip swelling could cover other injuries resulting in infection and pain at a later stage. If you don’t see improvement in 24 hours, then it is better to consult your physician to get the right treatment.

Lips Swelling By Allergic Reactions

If you are allergic to certain substances and you come in contact, the body produces histamine. The release of histamine leads to allergic symptoms like inflammation, itchiness, redness, or sneezing. Lips swelling could be because of these allergic reactions. So, if you notice any symptoms of allergy, particularly food and drug allergy, then you should consult your physician to control the allergic reaction.  

Swollen Lip Beyond Allergy and Trauma 

If you couldn’t see any obvious reason behind lip swelling, then it could be due to some other rare disease. One such rare disease could be angioedema—a short-term condition of deep tissue swelling. Your doctor will recommend antihistamine medication, and you will get rid of swelling in 24 to 48 hours. If angioedema is hereditary or non allergic, then your doctor will suggest suitable treatment.

In some cases, lip swelling could be due to exposure to UV light, which is also called Cheilitis glandularis. Your doctor will prescribe some antibiotics to avoid bacterial infection.

The inflammatory neurological condition called Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome (MRS) could also be the reason behind lip swelling. It is rare and likely genetic, so doctors treat MRS with corticosteroids and suitable swelling controllers.  

When to Consult a Doctor for Swollen Lips? 

Going out with swollen lips could be embarrassing as people find it difficult to accept change easily. In most cases, swollen lips return to normal in 24 to 48 hours without treatment. But if it is frequent and comes with additional symptoms of breathing and bleeding, then you should consult a dentist immediately. If there are signs of infections, it is better to get it treated as quickly as you could, because delaying treatment could bring pain and fever. If you are allergic to some substances, then it is better to keep some antihistamines ready at home for quick recovery. If swelling is linked with dental challenges, then you should maintain the highest oral hygiene regimen to keep infection at bay. 

Maria Giovanisci is an enterprising dentist from London. Maria graduated from the University of Murcia and began her professional career in her own dental clinic before, she decided to embark on a joint project with her two colleagues. Aside from contributing on this blog, she also works in the public health sector at the new Torrevieja Hospital.

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