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Mouth Diseases

Dry patches on lips and around mouth

01/08/2007

Question:

What could cause some areas of the lips and around the lips to be dry and slightly peel? The lips are not chapped or cracked at all. Just dry. I use lots of natural lip balms for temporary relief but it doesn`t cure the problem.

Answer:

The outer, red part of the lip (known as the "vermilion zone") is supposed to be dry.  You may notice a natural sharp boundary between the dry part of the lip and the inner, moist part of the lip.  This is called the "wet line".  When greasy materials (natural or man-made) are applied to the dry part of the lip, these materials tend to seal in water, which makes the lip more susceptible to yeast infection.  This can sometimes cause redness and peeling.  Peeling can also be part of a hypersensitivity reaction (allergy), and this could be caused by any one of a number of things that your mouth comes into contact with. 

If the problem persists or worsens, you may want to consider seeing an oral pathologist for further evaluation.

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Response by:

Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD
Professor Emeritus of Oral Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University