Derm DMs: I Have a Lip Breakout — What Should I Do Next?

July 30, 2020
Alanna Martine Kilkeary
By: Alanna Martine Kilkeary | by L'Oréal
Derm DMs: I Have a Lip Breakout — What Should I Do Next?

Pimples are no strangers to your chin, jawline and around your nose, but can they pop up on your lips, too? According to expert,  Karen Hammerman, M.D., of Schweiger Dermatology Group in Garden City, New York, the answer is, sort of. Pimples around and close to the lips are extremely common due to the large size of oil glands in this area. While you can’t get a pimple on your lip skin itself (there are no oil glands on the lips), you certainly can get one very close and nearly on them. Ahead, Dr. Hammerman breaks down what you should know.

Do I Really Have a Lip Breakout?

“Lip pimples can be thought of as similar to any other pimples and form for the same reasons, too,” says Dr. Hammerman. “Oil gets trapped into pores by the lip area, which leads to an overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria, which contributes to inflammation and leads to red, painful bumps.” Because you’re constantly using your lips, pimples can be extra fragile in this area. “The sensitive mouth area tends to make pimples more painful because of the large amount of movement that our lips are constantly performing through talking, chewing, etc.”

What Causes Lip-Adjacent Breakouts?

There are a few reasons, including diet and hair-removal, why you might be breaking out very close and nearly on top of your lips. Dr. Hammerman also adds that you have to be careful with lip products, as some wax in lip balms can clog pores if the lip balm spreads onto the skin very close to the lips. 

How Can I Address Lip-Adjacent Breakouts (Without Compromising Hydration)

Treating lip breakouts can be tricky if you have particularly dry lips. “When choosing a lip balm, check the ingredients and try to avoid pore-clogging products,” says Dr. Hammerman. We recommend Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 that’s formulated with squalane, aloe vera and vitamin E. For a tinted balm, try Glossier Balmdotcom in Mango.

“Pimples in the mouth and lip area should not be confused with cold sores, which usually start with a burning or stinging sensation followed by a clustered group of small blisters,” Dr. Hammerman adds. “Another skin condition that could resemble acne is perioral dermatitis, an inflammatory rash that affects the skin near the mouth and appears as a scaly or red, bumpy rash. If you notice that your acne isn’t responding to treatment, resembles a rash or is painful or itchy, consider consulting with a dermatologist.”

Design: Hannah Packer

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