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Did I Develop An Allergy To The Ingredients In My Lip Balm?

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I have a favorite lip balm that I have used several times a day for years. Recently, my lips and the skin around them started getting very irritated. I switched to a lip balm that has different ingredients. It was better for a while, but now my lips are starting to get irritated again. Could I be developing an allergy to ingredients in these lip balms? They contain all-natural ingredients like coconut oil and beeswax.

Yes, you can develop an allergy to lip balm with regular use. This is known as allergic contact dermatitis. It is caused by specific ingredients (e.g., allergens or irritants) in lip balm products. Typical symptoms include swelling of the lips, a dry scaly rash, redness, cracking, burning lip sensation, and itching of the affected area.

Ingredients in lip balms that can cause allergic contact dermatitis include:

  • Chemical Sunscreens
  • Fragrances
  • Flavorings
  • Vitamin E
  • Preservatives (e.g., parabens, formaldehyde)
  • Artificial Colors and Dyes (e.g., red dyes or eosin)
  • Occlusives (e.g., petrolatum)
  • Beeswax
  • Mineral Oil
  • Exfoliants (e.g., salicylic acid, phenol)
  • Castor Oil

Consult with an allergy specialist. They’ll get a detailed allergy history, and may do allergy patch skin testing to find potential allergens in the lip balm that could be responsible for the eczema on the lips. Alternative and safe lip balms can then be recommended, as well as treatments for the allergic contact dermatitis.

Allergy, Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
Answered by

John M. James, MD, is a board-certified allergist. He is also President of Food Allergy Consulting and Education Services, LLC. He has worked as a medical specialist in the field of allergy, asthma, and immunology for over 30 years. Dr. James received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee. He is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

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