Swollen Upper Lip

Do you occasionally suffer from a swollen upper lip? If you discover it in the morning, could you have injured it while you slept? Or does it just appear from nowhere, with no apparent reason?

Can upper lip swelling be caused by sunburn, pimples, allergies, canker sores, cold sores, insect bites, injuries or infections? How will you treat your inflamed upper lip?

What describes the possible appearance of a swollen upper lip?

Swollen top lips may be only swollen on one side, one spot, half of the lip, on the inside or outside, or over the entire lip. The swelling may appear overnight, during sleep, or suddenly, during the day. This is a problem for many people, adults and children alike.

article-5-pic-1Swollen upper lip

Symptoms of a swollen upper lip

If only your top lip appears swollen, you will probably experience various symptoms and signs. They may be quite mild or somewhat extreme, and they may indicate numerous possible causes.

Some underlying causes result in the same symptoms, so you or your physician may have to do some investigation to discover the reason for your swollen lip. Common symptoms will include:

  • Numbness of upper lip
  • Fat or enlarged lip (distension)
  • Dry & tight lip
  • Lip pain
  • Color changes, including redness
  • Inflammation
  • Itchiness
  • Tingling
  • Bumps filled with pus
  • Discharge of pus
  • Chapped lips
  • Blisters on lips
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Chills & fever

These aren’t the only swollen upper lip symptoms. You may experience others, depending on the cause. If you experience blue-ing of fingernails, tight throat, rash and hives, swelling of the tongue or breathing difficulties, seek medical attention immediately.

Why is your upper lip swollen?

There is always SOME cause for lip swelling, even if you just wake up one morning and find it. We’ll discuss some common causes.

  • Allergic reaction that causes a swollen upper lip

Allergic reactions are a common cause of lip swelling. They are caused by a variety of allergens that include, but are not limited to, lip care products, pet dander, medicines, latex or some foods. If you are having an allergic reaction, you may also experience symptoms like a runny nose, watery eyes or swollen eyes or face.

If you develop a swollen top lip shortly after you eat some specific food, you may have an allergy to the food. Don’t eat that food anymore. You may want to consult your physician to see if you should be tested for other potential allergies.

  • Surgeries, trauma and injury

This is the most common swollen lip cause, and it could be brought about by:

  • Botox
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Restylane injection
  • Injuries from dental braces
  • Burning, with hot food, etc.
  • Kissing
  • Biting your lips
  • Upper lip piercing
  • Dental work
  • Lip surgeries
  • Injury from blunt object hitting the lip


  • Pimples and acne

Having a pimple or acne may cause swollen lips, either lower or upper or both. Cystic acne is more painful, with bigger pimples.

  • Lip & mouth infections

Stomatitis and lip infections can cause swelling. Some of these include:

  • Chelitis
  • Angioedema
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Canker sores
  • Cold sores
  • Fever blisters
  • Type 1 herpes simplex

article-5-pic-2Upper inner lip swelling from mouth ulcers

  • Swollen upper lip from hives

Hives or uticaria can also cause upper lip swelling. It is at its most basic a severe allergic reaction that causes a rash, with itchy, raised, red, pale bumps. It affects various parts of the body, including the lips, causing them to swell.

  • Harsh weather, sunburn and sun poisoning

Over-exposure to sunlight can cause a swollen upper lip, as well as cracked and blistered lips. If you are exposed to very cold, dry and windy conditions, these may also lead to lip swelling.

  • Swollen lips that happen during sleep or overnight

Why would your lips be swollen when you wake up in the morning? This indicates that the swelling occurs overnight, while you’re sleeping.

One possible cause for this phenomenon may be hypoxia. It is closely associated with sleep apnea. Alternately, you could have an allergic reaction to the material in your bedding, you might bite your lip while sleeping or you could have gotten an insect bite.

  • Upper lip numbness & swelling

If your lips are numb as well as swollen, it could be due to cellulitis, an infection caused by bacteria that causes warm, swollen, tender, red skin, according to webmd.com. Other causes include:

  • Granulomatous cheilitis
  • Infected piercings up upper frenulum or lip
  • Lip plastic surgeries
  • Dental aesthetics

Other causes for a swollen upper lip include:

  • Herpangina
  • Reaction to a blood transfusion
  • Organ failure
  • Lip cancer
  • Eczema
  • Abscess, possibly after a piercing
  • Ingrown hair, if you shave or wax them

article-5-pic-3Child with half of upper lip swollen

What can cause a sudden swelling of the top lip?

The main source of sudden lip swelling is an allergic reaction to various lip care products, including lip balms, lip gloss or lipstick. You may also have allergies to pet dander, medicine allergies, latex allergy or food allergies.

If you have unexplained swelling on your upper lip without any clear reason, and you haven’t been bitten by any insects, try prescription or OTC antihistamines and see if they improve the condition.

Swollen upper lip frenulum

The most common causes of swelling in the upper lip frenulum include trauma, injury, dental issues, gum disease and injuries to the lip.

Home remedies and treatment for a swollen upper lip

If you have a fat or swollen lip, there are many ways to treat it. Home remedies and medications can heal or cure the lip, or at least help in swelling reduction. Some well-received treatments include:

  • OTC allergy medications
  • Prescription antihistamines
  • Honey
  • Black tea bags
  • Aloe Vera extract
  • Tea tree oil & aloe Vera
  • Witch hazel & salt
  • Turmeric powder
  • Cold compresses
  • Coconut oil

These methods will be helpful in treating swollen upper lip or lower lip, if you want to heal it up and reduce swelling.


  1. about 7 months ago my left upper lip started to swell very quickly at any given time.. Through these past months my right upper lip, my right upper and right bottom lip have done the same thing and at times my left upper and or bottom lip. It is becoming more severe where about a month and half ago my right bottom of my face including upper lip bottom lip and lower face and jaw line was swollen from almost my right ear to the left side of my (more jaw line area) not so much lip area to half way around to left ear. I was quite disfigured and it looked like a giant tumor was hanging on the bottom half of my face. at this time my doc ordered rast testing. after this about three weeks ago my right hand was swollen upon waking couldnt bend my fingers as this started to subside a little after benadryl 50mg my left hand did the same skin was very taunted. shortly after just a few days when swelling subsided my left upper and lower lip swelled and the left inner cheek had swollen areas ( i thought maybe hives?) around three of them where i couldnt close my mouth due to my teeth hitting them. last night i had to go to the er my right side of my tongue got a lump on it about the side of nickel then grew until I couldn’t talk it was huge only the right side. the bottom of my tongue hurt but I couldn’t look at it due to the swelling my right ear low into the neck area itched terribly and my right side of my throat felt funny kinda numb a little difficult to swallow. at the er they said they thought it was an allergic reaction and gave me iv meds which started to help the swelling immediately the burning in my tongue was overwhelming but lasted only a short while. when the swelling was going down I could lift my tongue and saw a huge looked like a water blister (huge) but the skin was a little thicker on the bottom side of my right side of my tongue and it was somewhat white in color and sore. they sent me home and all the symptoms are gone .this morning when I woke. my doc is sending me to an allergy doctor. what do you think?

    • You are experiencing severe symptoms. It is beneficial that you have spoken with a medical professional. You will find great benefit in speaking with an allergy specialist. Make an appointment as soon as possible. Take note of your symptoms, as the specialist will have a variety of questions for you. You may want to take pictures or write down descriptions of your symptoms. Best of luck, Debra!

  2. I’ve been getting what I thought were cold sores about twice a year, where a small section of the top part of my lip gets super swollen, just like the child in the picture above. I’ve always used medicines like abreva but it never helps and it usually lasts 2 weeks+ Any idea on what this could be or what I should do?

    • There may be a variety of potential causes for this symptom. If you have not spoken with a medical professional, then make an appointment at this time. They will be able to diagnose and potentially treat the cause of the swelling. Continue to monitor your symptoms, as this will help you address any questions that your doctor may have. Have a great day, Sabena!

  3. Ive seen my doctor 15 times in 11 months for itchy burning tingling swelling numb lips and face. After 9 months i saw a nuroligist who told me to buy a bike and enjoy life. I went back to family doc for next step.”we may never find out”!! Im going back again for 14th time in one year. Does this make sense..all reviews say to see a doctor as if it lasts long or feels. Sore to see a doctor immediatley
    No answer in sight…if fsmiky doc does refer me to dermstologist it is up to a year wait time. Its already been a year…im lost .. This has affected my work and my relatuonships. I was getting engaged…now im alone … I didnt want to burden her…:(

    • You have spoken with medical doctors, which is often beneficial. Some people find benefit in speaking with alternative medicine if they are not able to find support in conventional medicine. Determine if you feel that this is appropriate. You may also want to speak with another medical doctor or specialist. They may have a different diagnosis and treatment option. Best of luck, Lost!

  4. My girl came home with a sudden out of nowhere upper lip swollen it’s never happened before so I’m curious could she have gotten it from oral compilation with another.

    • There are a variety of potential reasons for why a lip would become swollen. She may be ill or have an infection. You should care for your partner by bringing her to a medical professional. You concerns will be addressed at that time. Best of luck to your partner. Have a great day, Jonathan!

  5. My top lip is swollen and the inner part of my lip burns. This is also followed with the roof of my mouth tender, mucousy, and burns as well. A day prior to waking up with this I went to the doctor for difficulty breathing and a sore abdomen. My top lip feels hot and tight! I started using Vaseline on my lips because they become dry with the swelling, which caused dead skin to come off in the inside of my lip which resulted in light bleeding of my inner lip. The bleeding stopped less than a minute and healed. It relieved the pain, however my lip is still swollen and burning and feels kind of sticky. I do have food allergies but it seems Benadryl had no effect! Please help

    • Continue to monitor your experiences. If you realize that you diet or environment are influences these symptoms, then take action and address these influences. Make an appointment with a medical professional at this time. Be certain to properly address any questions that your doctor may have for you. Best of luck, Dwayne!

  6. Since my husband been with me his face and lips tend to swell alot mostly after oral sex what could be causing this

    • I am not sure–it almost sounds like an allergic reaction, which would seem extremely unlikely. Do you use a lubricant of some sort or condoms beforehand? If there are any chemicals, he could have an allergy to them.

  7. i have a problem on my upper lip which is swellen for the last 5 years and it has no any assosetion with ather symptoms. so ayn person who have idea pleace hape me. what shale i do? what will be the couse? i need u’r comment.

    • If it has been swollen for that long, you should definitely consider seeing a doctor. Unless it is just your specific anatomy and genetics causing it, there could be something else at fault. Schedule a check up with your doctor and make sure to ask about it. Good luck, Girma Beyene!


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