How to Get Rid of Red Ring Around Lips

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Lip licker’s dermatitis is a skin condition that causes a red, inflamed ring around the lips. Other symptoms include dry and chapped lips, itching, and pain. Symptoms aside, this can cause self-esteem issues, so many wonder how to get rid of red ring around lips.

To treat and prevent the red ring around your lips, you need to kick off the habit of excess lip licking. Keeping lips moisturized with an emollient or a lip balm should help with that. You should resist the urge to bite or pick at your lips. And exfoliating the lips regularly should get some of that dryness off.

Sometimes, home remedies aren’t enough and a topical steroid ointment may be prescribed for severe cases. Moreover, there are a few other skin conditions that may look like lip licker’s dermatitis so proper diagnosis is important.

Below, we’ll go over what causes the red ring around the lips. Then we’ll give you some tips on how to treat and prevent this painful and itchy skin condition.

Lip Licker’s Dermatitis: The Red Ring Around Lips?

Dry, chapped, chaffed, and cracked lips are a common problem for many. Though seasonal for some, it’s a chronic issue for others who deal with it all year round, regardless of the time of year.

Aside from the problematic dry and chapped lips, the symptoms don’t end there. There are some who also deal with inflammation that looks like a red ring around the lips.

This red ring around the lips is also sometimes called lip licker’s dermatitis, lip licking eczema, or lip lick contact cheilitis.

What is Lip Licker’s Dermatitis?

Lip licker’s dermatitis is a skin condition that looks like some type of eczema on and around the lips. This condition causes the lips and the area around it to appear red, dry, cracked, scaly, and inflamed. This is usually accompanied by some itchy rashes and pain.

Lip licker’s dermatitis, as the name suggests, is irritation and inflammation caused by the skin’s repeated and excess contact with saliva.

Though symptoms are usually confined to and around the lips, they can affect any area that the tongue and saliva can reach.

While it is true that this condition is more common in cold winter months and places with consistent dry air, it can be a problem for many regardless of what time of year it is or where they live. Anyone with an issue with constant and chronic lip licking can deal with this issue.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Signs and symptoms usually show up in a circular formation or red ring around the lips:

  • Dry skin and scaly patches
  • Redness and soreness
  • Discoloration
  • Skin inflammation and irritation
  • Chapped and cracked skin
  • Peeling and crusting
  • Itchy sensation
  • Pain

While these symptoms are usually confined on and around the lips, they can appear as far as the tongue and saliva can reach.

What Causes Lip Licker’s Dermatitis?

Constant lip licking

From the name itself, lip licker’s dermatitis is caused by excessive licking of the lips and the surrounding area.

The habit of excessive licking disrupts and removes the protective layer of the lips. This leaves them dry and even more susceptible to further moisture loss.

When your lips feel dry, the tendency is for your to lick again and wet your lips to try and alleviate that dryness. This starts a continuous cycle of dry lips and dryness-causing licking. This eventually causes skin irritation which can lead to lip licker’s dermatitis.

Saliva contains digestive enzymes that work to start the digestion process as soon as put into your mouth. These digestive enzymes can be mildly acidic and constant contact with the lips’ sensitive skin and the surrounding area can cause irritation and inflammation.

Behavioral issues

Constantly lip licking can be due to various behavioral tendencies and issues. Small ticks like excessive lip licking can be related to anxiety, nervousness, or a form of physical issue.

If this is the cause of your constant lip-licking that causes lip licker’s dermatitis, finding out what the underlying cause and issue is a top priority.

Cold and dry weather

Cold and dry weather conditions can cause extremely dry lips. This could start up the issue of constantly licking the lips in hopes of alleviating some of that dryness.

This makes lip licker’s dermatitis even more prevalent in cold winter months.

Certain medications

There are certain medications that can cause dry, chapped, and irritated lips. When your medications cause your lips to dry, preventive measures must be taken into account.

Who is At Risk of Developing Lip Licker’s Dermatitis?

Everyone and anyone can develop lip licker’s dermatitis.

Those with a habit of constantly and excessively licking their lips are at the most risk. That being said, individuals who deal with anxiety and may develop constant lip licking as a coping mechanism are at a higher risk.

Children who have a difficult-to-break habit of licking their lips pose a greater risk. Additionally, individuals with cognitive issues and impairments may also have a difficult time kicking off the established lip-licking habit.

How to Get Rid of Red Ring Around Lips: Treating (and Preventing) Lick Licker’s Dermatitis

Now that we know everything we need to know about what causes the red ring around the lips, here are various ways to help you get rid of it:

  • Kick off the habit

The number one thing you can do to treat (and prevent) lip licker’s dermatitis is by kicking off the habit of licking your lips and keeping it minimal throughout the day.

This will stop the cycle of licking and drying out your lips. It might be difficult at first but it isn’t impossible.

If the root cause of your habit is something deeper like behavioral tendencies, your healthcare provider will point you in the right direction to help you tackle the issue right at the root cause.

  • Keep your lips well-moisturized to prevent chapped lips

Another way to treat the skin condition is by keeping your lips well-moisturized and hydrated throughout the day.

This will get rid of the dry feeling on the lips, which causes the desire to lick the lips. Apply lip balm at regular intervals throughout the day. Aloe vera gel, honey, and shea butter are some fan favorites when it comes to moisturizing ingredients for dry, chapped lips.

  • Opt for a lip balm with sun protection

Take your lip balm application up a notch by opting for one with SPF and sun protection. Excessive exposure to the sun can cause damage, dryness, and irritation to the lips. Protecting them with SPF should help minimize those effects.

  • Apply an emollient on the lips

A basic lip emollient like petroleum jelly should give the lips a protective film barrier to soothe and hydrate dryness and irritation.

  • Do not bite or pick at lips

When lips are dry and chapped, it would be best to leave them alone and avoid biting and picking at them. This speeds up the healing process and prevents infections.

  • Exfoliate lips regularly

Exfoliating the lips regularly with a gentle lip scrub gets rid of dry flakes that can make the lips feel and look dry. Without the flakiness, the lips won’t feel and look as dry, and can help you resist the urge to constantly lick them.

  • Try a topical steroid ointment

In most severe cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe a topical steroid ointment to help your lips and surrounding area heal faster. This can also reduce the swelling and get rid of the itching sensation. Work with your healthcare provider to come up with the best options for topical steroid creams for you.

Other Conditions that Look Like Lip Licker’s Dermatitis

When dealing with inflammation on the lips and red rings on the surrounding area, it’s also important to know other skin conditions that can look like and be mistaken for lip licker’s dermatitis:

Perioral dermatitis

This causes red papules that form on the lower half of the face. And unlike lip licker’s dermatitis, symptoms are not confined or limited to only the mouth area.

We have yet to know what exactly causes it but a variety of factors can be linked, including bacterial or fungal infections, rosacea, and the use of topical steroids.

Allergic contact cheilitis

This is allergic contact dermatitis on the lips and looks quite similar to eczema. It closely looks like lip licker’s dermatitis, which is why it’s often mistaken for it.

This is usually caused by an allergic reaction to certain foods, medications, or products like toothpaste and lip makeup.

To determine whether symptoms are pointing to allergic contact cheilitis or lip licker’s dermatitis, allergy and patch tests should be the course of action.


A red ring around the lips, or lip licker’s dermatitis, is irritating, itchy, and painful. Moreover, it can be a cause for self-confidence issues. Thus many wonder how to get rid of the red ring around their lips.

First and foremost, kicking off the habit of constant lip licking should be addressed. This not only treats the problem but also prevents it. Keeping lips moisturized with a lip balm with SPF or an emollient should also get rid of the dryness. Regular exfoliation and resisting the urge to bite or pick at your lips also help. And for severe cases, a topical steroid ointment may be prescribed to deal with the inflammation.

And that has been our detailed guide on getting rid of the red ring around the lips. For more of your queries, hit us up right below!