Lip Licker’s Dermatitis-A Common Problem During Winter

Lip licker’s dermatitis or lick eczema is quite common among the children during winter season. It’s a rash that occurs around the lips in response to chronic licking around the mouth with saliva. This is often associated with cracked and chapped lips. As the lips get dried your child will more likely moisten the lips by saliva. When it is repeatedly done by your child, it becomes a habit, just like nail biting, thumb sucking. This rash gets better when the habit is stopped.

As lip licker’s dermatitis is cause by direct irritation of saliva it is considered as irritant contact dermatitis. Severe irritation may further lead to cracking and secondary bacterial infection.

What Causes Lip Licker’s Dermatitis?

During cold season or during dry climates our lips often get dried. When lips gets dried child often develops a habit of repetitive licking of their lips to moisten them with saliva, which will temporary relief the dryness. But, when saliva comes in constant contact with lips and surrounding skin it dries and irritates the skin resulting in lip licker’s dermatitis.

How is Lip Licker’s Dermatitis Diagnosed?

It can be diagnosed clinically by typical rash around the mouth which can be reached easily by tongue. But be warned there are other conditions that might also resemble such rash, so if you are unsure, visiting a dermatologist might be helpful.

Lip Licker's Dermatitis

Lip Licker’s Dermatitis

How can Lip Licker’s Dermatitis be treated?

It is often difficult to treat lip lickers dermatitis, as child develops a habit of persistent lip leaking. The most important treatment is to ask for the child to stop licking her lips. So educating child about the habit and its consequences might help.

For mild cases regular application of Vaseline will work wonder. For moderate to severe cases your doctor may prescribe 1% hydrocortisone cream for a few days, which will usually clear the skin. After that, regular use of Vaseline will help moisturize and protect the skin. For best result apply a thick layer of Vaseline around the mouth and re-apply every 30 minutes. It is better to give a box of Vaseline to your child so he/she can apply on regular interval. With proper treatment, lip licker’s dermatitis goes away in a couple of weeks with no scarring or permanent skin damage.

How can I Prevent Lip Licker’s Dermatitis?

As always said, prevention is better than cure, so preventing is much easier than treating the condition. As soon as the lips feel dry start using the lip balm. It is better to use regular lip balm during dry and winter season, which will keep the lip moistened throughout the season and prevent cracking, drying and lip licker dermatitis.


  1. I’ve had this black outline around my lips for one year, I’ve used every lip balm that ever existed, but it doesn’t go away, I lick my lips a lot, but I’ve started to control it and I want it to go away as soon as possible, any recommendations for making it go away quickly?

  2. Thank you for this because I use to have the around my lips and did not know what it was and after reading this I found out what it was and got it cured so I personally want to thank you for explaining reply if can


    Thank you for this information. When I was little I was always t ? this was a cold sore around my mouth. I had one every year and I now have a dark scary around my mouth. Now my cousin had it ? I am so glad that I can help her now

  4. I have had this condition for two years and it will not go away. I had it for a whole year and I kept going to doctors and seeing what was wrong but none of them knew until I went to a dermatologist. That’s when I was diagnosed with it. I’ve been using a cream every night before bed since I was diagnosed and it still won’t go away. I’ve stopped licking my lips as much and lip balm does not help. If anyone knows what might be the problem or if it’s something more, please contact me. Also, I had the red ring around my mouth for a year and when I went to a dermatologist and started using the cream, the red ring went away but the irritation and dryness will not go away.

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