What are Swollen Lips? Causes and Treatment

Swelling of the lip occurs due to the accumulation of fluid in the extracellular area. Temporary or the persistent lip swelling is the point of concern. It not only make you feel awkward but also, irritates you with the itching and pain. Swelling of the lip occurs due to the trauma, allergy, infection, etc. Also, some of the systemic disorders such as herpes infection, cheilitis glandularis (1), etc. are known to associated with the swollen lips.

Home therapies like an ice pack, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, etc. act best for the swollen lips. However, if the swelling persists, then you need to see the doctor for the medical attention. Your doctor may prescribe a few drugs such as NSAIDs and the corticosteroid to ease your discomfort. Let us know more about the causes and treatment of swollen lip.


Causes of swollen lips

Some of the common reasons for lip swelling are –

1. Injury

An injury in any form such as cut, bruising, etc. may cause swelling of the lip. Trauma to the lip caused by various reasons such as lip bite, accidental fall on the mouth, an awkward sleeping position giving excessive pressure on the lip, etc. causes lip to swell.

Swollen lips causes infographic-2

2. Dental issues

Swollen lips commonly noticed with the braces wearer, in case of the oral or gum infection, and when broken tooth penetrates the lips. (2)

Accidental injury by dental instrument or excessive pressure on the lip while performing the dental procedures also lead to the lip swelling.

3. Allergic reactions

Allergic reaction induced due to certain medicine, food or environmental factors causes swelling of the lip. Anaphylaxis is the severe form of allergy which causes swollen lips.

Food or drinks such as milk, peanut, fish, wheat, etc. induce allergic reactions. Also, drugs, such as penicillin, antibiotics, are more commonly seen as the allergy-inducing agent.

In case of allergy, you may develop rashes, bruises or blister on the lip, which often leads to the lip swelling. Environmental allergic factors include pollens, duct, insect bites, etc.

4. Muscle and neurologic condition

Lip swelling induced due to muscle dysfunction noticed in trumpet player or other musicians (3). They spend hours exerting pressure on the lips by facial muscles which causes lip swelling.

5. Skin condition and infection

If you have a pimple or boil near the lip, then it may also give you the temporary swollen lip. Also, the other skin infection such as cellulitis, herpes infection, etc. causes lip swelling.

6. Other causes

Angioedema is one such condition which causes the swelling in the deeper layer of skin. Angioedema of lip may be hereditary or allergy induced.

Other medical conditions such as chelitis granulomatous, melkersson-rosenthal syndrome, cheilitis glandularis, erythema multiforme show swollen lip as the symptom. (4)


Treatment of the condition focuses on reducing the lip infection. Initially, you may try few home remedies. But if the swelling does not cure, you need to see a doctor.

Medical treatment

You need to have the medical attention if, you have chronic or recurrent swollen lips (5). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or the corticosteroid are effective and helps to reduce the swelling of the lip.

Lip swelling associated with other systemic disorders also needs medical treatment.

Homemade remedies

The natural agents, having antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, used as a home therapy for the swollen lip. Here are some effective home therapies for the swollen lips.

1. Ice pack

Ice pack application is the most common method used for the swollen lip. The ice constricts the blood vessels and reduces the blood flow in the affected area.

Edema reduced with decreased blood flow. Follow the steps given below for application of ice pack.

  • Take the clean, soft cloth and 1-2 ice cubes.
  • Wrap the ice cubes in the cloth. Gently press the pack over the swollen area for approximately 10-15min.
  • Repeat after the break of 1hr.

Swollen lips treatment infographic-1

2. Warm water

Use of warm water is useful for swollen lip as it increases the blood circulation in the affected area, and reduces swelling. Following are the steps you need to follow –

  • Take a bowl of warm water and a clean cloth.
  • Dip the cloth in warm water for 2-3 min. Take it out and squeeze it to remove the excess of water.
  • Place the cloth over lips for 5-10 min.
  • Repeat the process after an hour.

3. Turmeric powder

Turmeric contains ‘Curcumin’ which is an anti-inflammatory agent, and also helps to reduce the swelling of the lip. What you have to do is –

  • Make a paste of turmeric powder, cold water, and fuller’s earth.
  • Apply the paste on the swollen lip and allow it to dry.
  • Wash it with lukewarm water once it dried.
  • Do it twice a day.

4. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is the natural extract having anti-inflammatory properties. Swollen lip caused due to allergic reaction best cured with aloe vera extract. This how you should use aloe vera for swollen lips.

  • Cut the aloe vera leaf and take out the extract.
  • Apply this extracted gel over the swollen lip and keep it there as long as possible.
  • Do it twice a day.

5. Baking soda

Baking soda is an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and best soothing agent. It works best if the swollen lip is due to a blister, insect bite or other inflammatory condition. You should apply baking soda in the following manner.

  • Mix baking soda with regular water.
  • Apply the mixture over the swollen lip and leave it for 10min. Then wash it with cold water.
  • Do it after every 3-4 hours.

6. Honey

Honey is antibacterial and has healing properties. If the swollen lip accompanied with itching or irritation, then honey act as the best home remedy.

  • Apply the honey over the swollen lip.
  • Leave it for 20 min and then wash with cold water.
  • Do it 3-4 times a day.

7. Coconut oil

Organic coconut oil is best for skin disorders. It has antimicrobial properties, and it also nourishes the skin.

  • Massage your lips with coconut oil and leave it for hours — this help to cure the lip swelling.
  • Do it until the swelling subsides.

8. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is antiseptic and also reduces the swelling.

  • Mix apple cider vinegar with water.
  • Apply the diluted mixture on swollen lips.
  • Leave it for 5 min and then wash it off with water.
  • Do it twice a day.

9. Witch hazel extract and salt

Witch hazel is the astringent which helps to disinfect the skin and also reduces the inflammation.

  • Take witch hazel extract and add salt to it.
  • Apply the mixture on the swollen lip.
  • Leave it for 30 min and then rinse it with cold water.
  • Do it 2-3 times a day.

10. Tea tree oil and aloe vera

Aloe vera is anti-inflammatory and helps to reduce the lip swelling. Tea tree oil extract is antiseptic and adds to the benefits of aloe vera. The mixture of aloe vera extract and tea tree oil is more efficient for the swollen lip.

  • Make the mixture of aloe vera and tea tree oil.
  • Apply the mixture over swollen area.
  • Leave it for 10-15 min and then, rinse it with water.
  • Do it twice a day until the swelling subsides.

11. Epsom salt

Epsom salt is an anti-inflammatory agent, and also, soothe the pain. If the swollen lips have bruises, then Epsom salt Compress best works to cure it.

  • Mix the Epsom salt in regular water.
  • Deep the clean cloth in water and then, place it over the swollen lips for 15 min.
  • Do it until the swelling subsides.

These are the best natural way to treat the swollen lips. Home therapies accompanied by a healthy diet is essential to cure the swollen lips.

Final words

A swollen lip is a frustrating condition to live with. Also, it makes you look weird. It may take time to resolve, but the home therapies with the healthy diet and medical care act best for the swollen lips.


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