What is Allergic Contact Cheilitis?

Allergic contact Cheilitis is a skin condition affecting the lips. It is characterized by swollen lips with an eczema (blistered and swollen red rash) type outbreak on the outer lip or the vermillion border ( the line outlining the lips). It is more common in men than women. A study in Singapore revealed that allergic contact cheilitis accounted for 35% of the eczematous cheillitis being treated in the clinic.

What is Allergic Contact Cheilitis?

What are the sources of contracting Allergic contact Cheilitis?

  • For women, lip cosmetics, face cosmetics and sunscreen.
  • Toothpaste and other mouth care products like mouthwash, denture cleaner, dental floss and toothpicks.
  • Metals in lip jewelry, dental restorations like tooth crowns, orthodontic devices like braces.
  • Habits like chewing metal objects.
  • From food containing the allergens.
  • Medications
  • Nail biting which brings the aspect of exposure to nail paints containing the allergens.
  • Allergens in rubber or latex gloves brought inside or close to the mouth during dental treatments could cause it.
  • Playing a mouth organ like the flute, saxophone and harmonica could cause this. The irritants could be present in the material or the metal of the musical instrument.

Which are the allergen groups that cause this disease?

  • Fragrances.
  • Flavorings in mouth and tooth care products.
  • Metals like cobalt and nickel in makeup or dental devices and tools.
  • Preservatives in tooth care products could cause it.

What are the symptoms of this ailment?

  • An eczema like occurrence with intense red rash on the vermillion margin and around the mouth.
  • Dry lips leading to cracking and scaling.
  • Angular cheilitis is when the angles of the mouth get it. It becomes very painful trying to open the mouth.
  • Burning sensation is reported on exposure to water or food.
  • Contact urticaria (red swelling) is also present as in the early stages of cheilitis.
  • Pigmented allergic contact cheilitis is very rarely seen. It is a pigmentation of the lip which stays on even after the eczema has healed.

What are the treatments available for allergic Contact Cheilitis?

  • Avoiding the allergen is the best idea.
  • Using organic makeup for lips and face.
  • Using a petroleum jelly to keep the area moisturized.
  • Corticosteroid ointments may be used.
  • Sometimes, antihistamines are also prescribed to bring relief from the tender, swollen and itchy lips.

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