Avatar universal

Allergic to Lip Products?

I am 18 years old, and I have never been allergic to anything in my life. As part of my nightly routine, I've always put on lip balm before bed. However, late last year, my lips started to get more dry and chapped than usual, even itchy. They felt like sand paper and often developed tiny bumps. If rubbed hard enough, the bumps would produce a clear liquid. The edges of my lips also sometimes felt very raw and red. These symptoms would last around a week.
At the time, I had been using just plain Burt's Bees Lip Balm for many weeks. When I got the symptoms, I used a bit more of the balm than I usually did, thinking it would help the dryness. When nothing seemed to be working, I stopped using it altogether. In time, my lips healed, and I switched to Softlips lipbalm in both vanilla and peppermint flavors. I showed no reaction from their usage for about a month. Then, I started getting the same reaction that I got from the Burt's Bees Lip Balm. That was when I figured I was developing an allergy to lip balm. Over time, I also realized I was getting the same reaction even faster from lipstick and lipgloss. That meant I was allergic to all lip products across the board.
I began researching into the symptoms and the ingredients in lip products, especially ones that commonly produced allergic reactions. With that knowledge in mind, I've tried many other balms these past months, including ones by Blistex and Kiss my Face. I'm even allergic to plain Chapstick. At first, I would not show any symptoms at all, but they would eventually show up within a few weeks, sometimes days. I even tried alternating the balms every night, which helped slightly but I would eventually get the reaction again. Nowadays, I only wear lip balm every few nights because I can't stand having chapped lips, but never multiple nights in a row. Even then, there's always a chance of my reacting to it.
I haven't been able to pinpoint the exact ingredient that I'm allergic to, and I'm hesitant to spend any more money to try more products. I haven't changed anything about my diet, makeup, facewash, mouthwash, or toothpaste, so I am very certain that it's the lip products. After my research I've also found that other people have had the same problem.

Has any product been found that works but doesn't trigger a reaction from people with my allergies?

I've heard that Vaseline is possibly the only solution, but because of my research I've been staying away from products with petroleum and petrolatum in them. Should I try it out anyway?
169 Responses
681148 tn?1437661591
I'm having a similar issue.  Some products have even burned my lips.  My lips are always peeling.  Now, the dry flaking skin is above the upper lip where a man would have a mustache.  I'm starting to really worry, because I've always had to be concerned about dry lips.  Now, it's getting to the point where I'm not able to use much of anything on my lips without some kind of reaction.  I'm starting to think my allergies are just getting worse and worse and this may be because of my Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).  This is really getting frustrating.

I tried Sun, made by Alba Botanicals, but I can't use it, because it definitely burns my skin.  I try to be careful about reading the ingredients before purchasing to ensure the product doesn't have something in it that I know I'm allergic to.  So, I don't know what it is that I'm allergic to in this particular product.  I know I can't use any commercial brands, and I can't use anything with calendula oil in it, because I'm definitely allergic to calendula oil.  I found that out the hard way.

Yet, if I have skin scratch allergy tests, the tests all show negative, except for a couple of things, like birch and dust mites.  My allergist recognizes, though, that this doesn't mean that someone doesn't have a reaction to a certain item.  I will throw up now if I eat lettuce or spinach.  Yet, the allergy tests show negative for an allergy.  Obviously, though, I'm still having a bad reaction to the produce.  I discovered in researching cross reactions that lettuce and spinach are in the same botanical family as sunflowers, marigolds and calendulas.  This means dandelions, too.  This is a really broad botanical group.

I haven't had a whole lot of success trying vaseline or petroleum jelly for my lips either.  I'm kind of turned off by the idea of petroleum products myself, so I know what you mean.  I tried it anyway and I was still having problems with my lips.  Not as much as with some things, but they still peeled and still turned a darker red from being irritated.  

I'm really at a loss myself, because of having similar issues.  I don't know what's wrong.  I'm really frustrated, because I peel like a lizard everyday, so I don't have the normal amount of skin on my lips any more either.  It's more than a little uncomfortable.

I sure hope someone else knows what the answer is to what is going on for both of us.
Avatar universal
Hi you guys!
I came across this post and I thought I would share what I was able to find.  I have the same problem too!

If you look at most of the ingredients in your lip glosses/chapsticks/or any other lip product that you are allergic to, you can almost pinpoint what is causing your bad reactions.  It's different for everyone, so I can't provide an answer for you guys, but I can tell you that I am allergic to Chapstick, Carmex, MAC lipglasses/glosses soft lips, and other random free chapsticks that I had gotten as gifts, ie rosebud's.  I found out that I am allergic to petroleum, and anything that has to do with SPF.   I would try and see if that is the case, and avoid Vaseline, because petroleum jelly is Vaseline.  and for me at least, I can use Vaseline anywhere else, except on my lips.  On wiki there is a list of other things you can use, like coconut oil/butter to soothe chapped lips, or even honey.  
I would also try and cut back on the usage of chapstick just because, just from my own personal experience, when I use my chapstick too often i end up with more of a chapped lip if i forget my chapstick at home or i just don't have it with me.  As for an allergic reaction to burt's bees, some people have very sensitive skin/lips and are irritated (not allergic) to the peppermint in the chapstick.  I would also try and exfoliate the lips every so often with a sugar and olive oil mixture, as seen on youtube, or just with your toothbrush (VERY gently scrubbing) to keep your lips soft and smooth :] .  

I hope this helps!
681148 tn?1437661591
I've been using shea butter lately.  And, I've been using coconut oil from time to time--same stuff you buy at the health store that you cook with.  

I think part of my problem might be a vitamin B deficiency.  One of the doctors here told me that vitamin B2 and B12 should be supplemented more.  Well, I must need to get a better form of B12 then, because that's the one that it matters which form you use or your body doesn't even take it in and it will go right through you.  These are water soluble vitamins, just so you know.  And, I know it's safe to take high doses of vitamin B2, because that's what my neurologist has me doing as a migraine preventative.  I thought I would mention this, because this could be someone else's source of the problem--on top of being allergic to various lip products.
681148 tn?1437661591
I've been using shea butter lately.  And, I've been using coconut oil from time to time--same stuff you buy at the health store that you cook with.  

I think part of my problem might be a vitamin B deficiency.  One of the doctors here told me that vitamin B2 and B12 should be supplemented more.  Well, I must need to get a better form of B12 then, because that's the one that it matters which form you use or your body doesn't even take it in and it will go right through you.  These are water soluble vitamins, just so you know.  And, I know it's safe to take high doses of vitamin B2, because that's what my neurologist has me doing as a migraine preventative.  I thought I would mention this, because this could be someone else's source of the problem--on top of being allergic to various lip products.
Avatar universal
i'm 19 and I am not a big lip chap user, but every time I start to use ANY lip product for more than two days my lips go crazy! Like I will get red bumps near them and they become super chapped! So, i switched to regular vaseline (the lip chap and the stuff that comes in the container) but that caused the same effect... so then i switched to olive oil and no success! If you ever do find something PLEASE post it here! The winter makes my lips so dry but I can't use anything because of those disgusting red spots....
Avatar universal
Hey, everyone, thanks for all of your input! I will definitely be trying some of your solutions, like the olive and coconut oil and shea butter. I also wanted to let you know that I ended up trying Vaseline anyway, and it's worked for these past few months. I'm still on the hunt for a better solution, but for now, Vaseline is doing its job without any negative side effects.
I just finished the back patch test at the dermatologist last week. I have had these same issues for over a year now, and it was driving me crazy. Let me tell you, the patch test was NO fun, but in the end it's worth it because I now know exactly what I'm allergic to. They put 71 different chemicals on my back and taped them on for three days and then could tell by how the skin on my back reacted that I have a balsam of peru allergy, a fragrance allergy, and a compositae allergy. This means I have an extremely limited list of lip products and toothpaste, face wash and face lotion I can use. It makes me really sad, but I'm glad I got to the bottom of it. By the way, Vaseline is the only allowed chapstick on my list, so you are on the right track with that.
Avatar universal
hey guys i'm fifteen and am having the same problem with my lips. i started using avon's moisture therapy chapstick and so far it hasn't done anything but it does have SPF and Petrolatum in it. i just started using it a few days ago so i'll let you know if i have a reaction but so far so good.
Avatar universal
Wow I'm not alone.  Amazing!  I've been battling this crazy thing with my lips for almost a year now.  My first symptoms started up after I got a really bad sunburn and started using a lot of chapstick on them to heal them.  But they never cleared up!  I've gotten to the point where I use a chapstick of sorts constantly.  My lips are always dry!   But then when I think they're starting to get better and I just put on a regular pretty lip gloss they start to freak out.  They get all red especially around the edges, and sometimes they get swollen and oozy.   I also constantly get cracks in the corners of my mouth because my skin gets so dry and irritated!  I'm currently desperately searching for some way to clear this up!  I've gone to a doctor who suggested that I may be getting a yeast infection in the corners of my mouth and after giving me cream, it maybe has helps the cracks a little bit but my lips are still dry.  I'm going back to the doctor next week because I'm starting to believe that I have an allergy to something.  So far I'm trying to eliminate lip balms with lanolin.  I also have shown some irritation to products with petrolatum.  Neosporin daily lip treatment, Palmers lip balm, Aquaphor, and Blistex lip renewal seem to help but don't completely alleviate the symptoms.  Neosporin night treatment, carmex, vasoline, chapstick, burts bees, other blistex have all made the symptoms worse!  With all of those products I have experienced the red swollen, peeling lips.  Please keep posting anything that you've tried that helps!
Avatar universal
I am very happy to have found this post because I have the same problem with my lips.  I am 25 yrs old and the same reaction started to occur when I was a senior in high school.  Any type of lip products that I used would cause the same problem: my lips would become really itchy and chapped and then the itchy red bumps would occur.  My doctor referred me to a dermatologist.  He asked me when I used lip products did I find that my lips would still continue to be chapped and I explained the symptoms to him.  He said that I had a skin condition that pretty much doesn't allow me to wear any lip products. He prescribed me this medicine that I had to have made at a compound pharmacy, for a half of tube of this medicine, it cost me like $50...for a full tube $90!  I am sorry to report that I can not remember the name of the medicine but I am sure if you find a decent dermatologist who knows what they are talking about, they will be able to prescribe you the same medicine.  My parents couldn't afford the medicine anymore so I had to find a different remedy to help with my chapped lips.  I noticed on the medicine tube that one of the ingredients was Crisco.  So as gross as it may sound people, I started using Crisco as my lip product and it actually has been working great.  Well not too great because it doesn't last long but it does help with the chapped lips and offers a temporary shine like I have used lipgloss.  My boyfriend has even resorted to using it so he can kiss me.  He is not allowed to kiss me when he has chapstick on becuase I have had small reactions that way as well.  I recommend getting a small container and putting it in there because carrying around a tub of Crisco is not cute and very heavy in your purse and trying to be discreet about using Crisco on your lips is a whole other challenge but it works!  I also found that when I ate fruit, I would have the same reaction so I have been lip product and fruit free for 7 years now.  Well, not exactly fruit free, I will enjoy a glass of orange juice once in a while with no reaction haha.  So be brave and try the Crisco.  Also
when I was using the expensive medicine that was prescribed to me, I googled it and found it was used for some form of ezcema.  I hope this has helped!  Good luck!
Avatar universal
The internet is a wonderful thing. Had no idea so many people had a similar problem. I have been an avid Chapstick wearer for as long as I can remember. Over a month ago, I suddenly developed what I thought was a cold sore on my lips even though at 36 years old, I never had one before. I used Carmex and it didn't get much better- but after a week went away. Then I got another red patch on my lips for a week- and another. I was trying several Chaptsticks, Carmex, Breva, and vaseline finally when nothing seemed to work or make it feel better. Then I wondered if maybe the problem was an allergic reaction rather than a cold sore. I didn't think it was possible to all of a sudden become allergic to something you were always using. By coincidence, I was putting Aquaphor Healing Ointment on my daughter's rash that the pediatrician recommended and I noticed it said for chapped lips too. I tried it. It has been working great for me. It stays on for hours, it doesn't taste like anything, it feels good, and you need just a small drop. My rash went away. This morning, I forgot my Aquaphor at home and grabbed a Chapstick I had in the car. Hours later a rash appeared again. I guess I am allergic to something in Chapstick. I definitely recommend trying Aquaphor.
Avatar universal
I've had this problem too..even to plain ol Chaptick. I think it is the SPF used and lanolin- of all things. The only lipbalm I'm sure does not cause an allergic reaction so far is Badger Balm lipbalms. Try them. :)
Avatar universal
Oh...and plain Vaseline Lip Therapy- *without* spf.. I've tried tons of balms, and basically have narrowed it down to avoiding lanolin and spf.
Avatar universal
If petroleum is a problem, try Badger Balm products without spf. Natural and no lanolin- which was one of my problem ingredients.
Avatar universal
Hello. My toddler has a chapped lip too, just the upper middle part. It's been chapped for 1 mo. Dr. said it is NOT herpes, just chapped. Carmex turned her into lip balm addict. She pick constantly just to get more. Then I read about the camphor in it and pharmastist said NOT to use it for chapped lips b/c it's really desgined to dry out cancer soars, which she doesn't have.  Pharmastist and Dr. both rec. vaseline -- white pet. jelly.  

I read how Petrolatum might be loosely linked to breast cancer and was concerned that it's not rec. my "Dr. Oz" on TV.  I switched to Neosporin Adv. Lip therapy at night, vaseline during the day, and Yes to Carrots carrot flavor lip balm as a treat for her.   Her condition is a bit better, but still not good. I went to a dermatologist and asked for more advice. She said to stop the neosporin advanced therapy because neosporin is a common allergon and just use straight vaseline. I inquired about all the things people are saying about petrolatum, and she claims it's still industry standard to use it. She says they will even perscribe it for all cover head to toe care on babies who have bad ezcema.  

So, I noticed that some vaseline knock offs contain fragrances.  I bought plain 100% fragrance free vaseline and some little travel container pots to put some in for on the go.  I will see how this works.

BTW, I tried Badger balm cocoa butter balm and hated it!  I do like Yes to Carrots and ESO lip balms. They are 95% natural. I also like Burts Bee SPF8 passionfruit.  These products don't iritate me.  Since my little girl doesn't have a full vocabulary yet, I don't know if they are iritating her. She likes them and would eat them. For this reason, I am sticking with her Dr's, pharmasists and dermatologist's advice and giving her vaseline and then Burts Bee SPF 8 when in sun.

I will post back in a month if it works.
Avatar universal
I am glad to find that I am not alone in this insane lip situation! It drives me crazy! It happened to me this time last year (I have always been an avid user of regular chapstick) and last year I suddenly starting having swollen and painful lips (more on both ends/sides and some on the edges...not so much the middle of the lips at all). They were very red and gross looking and I felt like a clown...I hated it! After about a week of it I started using/trying everything I could find over the counter at CVS and other pharmacies with no luck. I was spending tons of money and even trying anti-allergy things when I started to wonder if it was an allergic reaction vs. just dry/angry lips. :-) After about a month with it healing only slightly from time to time (and then immediately come back in full force) I found the CVS brand equivalent of Blistex (of which all of their products I had tried) - just called Medicated Lip Ointment and shaped exactly like Blistex in a red box. It worked wonders! Of all the things to trip across a 2 dollar bottle of relief! I was so excited. Anyways the reason I am posting it now a year later is that this same thing just happened to me two nights ago....and my lips are on fire/itchy and red again (identical symptoms to last year's debacle) and I can say with almost 100% certainty that it was from verying from that CVS stuff that I have been so loyal to. While at CVS picking up another tube I saw this new Blistex with mint (and spf which likely contributes as well for some reason) and for some reason I felt like trying it. Well I broke it out in the car and used it - felt great nice and minty and refreshing on my lips....used it a bit more at home later...and that night red/swollen lips again! Full force like before....ugh! Well I am kicking myself for experimenting with another brand/lip balm right now but I can't say I am clueless this time, I even had a thought about using that yesterday like, "Watch I'll probably have those crazy lips again" I don't know why I even tried it!! But It's back to only the CVS brand for me! Just wanted to post this to let others know they are definitely not alone for sure and to offer up the suggestion of that CVS brand - it worked wonders for me for some unknown reason and I have no questioned it - the ingredients are almost identical for this and the Blistex brand but for some reason that didn't work at all for me. Anyways, good luck to everyone out there with this annoying allergy!  
Avatar universal
I am so glad I found this post. I have been battling with this problem for 10 years now. I can not use any kind of lip balm and lipstck or gloss. I have however been able to use lipgloss from clinique for fashion emergencies. The most annoying thing about this is going out to some fancy ball or dinner and not get to color your lips a little :(
So Clinique is ok as long as I dont reapply more than once or twice and make sure to clean my lips very well after the evening and applying cream after.
The cream I mostly use to prevent dry lips is Locobase but it does contain petrolatum and since this is the only cream I can use I am ok with that.

However, I recently started to try to use eye cream directly on my lips before I go to bed and so far it is working wonders for me. My lips have never been so soft and moist :)  So I think trying the eye cream is worth a try. I am currently using an eye cream from Clinique.

Good luck to you all, lets hope we find a cure for this problem so we can all look fabulous with what ever lip product we choose ;)
1355118 tn?1298564879
Hi, welcome to the forum, some people are allergic to many things in daily routine due to body hypersensitivity.

As you are having rash, swelling, pimples due to use of lip balm avoid the use of lip balm as soon a possible to avoid further complication. If you are using it for moisturizing you have a good alternative which is safe to use. In such condition maintenance of adequate hydration of the skin is quite important. Which includes thick creams (eg, Eucerin, Cetaphil, Nutraderm), which have a low water content, or ointments (eg, petroleum jelly, Aquaphor, Petrolatum), which have zero water content, are better.

You need to consult skin specialist for some allergen test before applying lip balm. Take care and regards.
Avatar universal
I had the same issue with my lips last year...first tingling, then redness, swelling, small bumps, pain/sensitivity and oozing liquid. My lips would become dry and flaky as they healed...duration of about a week...several cycles throughout winter season. I had no idea what was causing it..at first I thought it was normal chapped lips as the symptoms were not so severe...but after the second and third cycles I suspected it was something more...as my lips were quite swollen (clown like in fact), painful and oozing. I was trying all sorts of chapsticks and lip treatments...including burt's bees peppermint...Eventually, I cut everything and started using aquaphor on a doctor's recommendation. The aquaphor helped with the chapping, but I still had the red rash and bumps...test results came back...I had acquired a staph infection (most likely through the cracks in my lips). I took medication and all cleared up within a week. I started using regular store brand cherry chapstick about a week later. No symptoms from March until now. My cherry chapstick ran out and I bought Burt's Bees peppermint again (which has been a favorite of mine for years). My lips had not really been chapped since last year's issues, but I generally wear chapstick on a daily basis. Well, hours after applying the peppermint chapstick my lips started to tingle (and not in a pepperminty way) in a "oh no, not again way". The next day they were swollen, and dry...no oozing yet. I have stopped using the peppermint chapstick...I probably was allergic to it all along...I will have to be careful with other chapsticks though...as it seems that many people have multiple chemical sensitivities.

Word to the wise...if you notice a strange reaction (extra chapped lips...tingling...redness, swelling, and especially oozing...do not be careless like I was...those symptoms are not normal chapping and most likely are related to an allergy). Stop using all lip products before your lips crack and become infected like mine! Do not try out different products all at once...you will irritate your lips further. The price of lip balm can add up, and so do doctor's bills! It takes about a week for the allergic reaction to stop (in my case at least), so I will wait at least that long before trying a different product...once you've experienced this awful malady you never want to go back!  

Happy holidays everyone!
Avatar universal
Try NIVEA Med Protection, it helps really fast. Your super dry & chapped lips will get back to normal in less than a week :)
Good luck & Happy New Year to all of you :)
Avatar universal
WOW!! i thght i had some new disease...aliens testing on me :p..
Jokes apart,  I had never been allergic to lip glosses/lip stick/lip balms my whole life.. bt few days back, my lips chapped severely to the point they were so raw and i felt like a freak going out..everyone would stare at my lips, cause they were chapped so badly, there was a mountain of dead skin, which no matter what i did, did not clear, no scrubbing, cleaning wid clean brush, exfoliating..nuthin worked, it would seem to work at dat point but sleep at nite nd bam they were back the next morning..I wud get up wid another mountain of dead skin..it used to burn like hell...wud be like dat for a few days and then heal automatically and then a few days later the same story repeats..it always starts wid tiny almost invisible bumos on my upper and lower corner of the lips nd gradually spread accrss before healing itself...
After a  few times , i started using glycerin at nite.. I wud apply it all over and wait for an hour or so and just b4 going to sleep wud apply vaseline...dat seems to work. However if i apply lip gloss or  lip balm(while going out ofcourse) it wud b alrite for a while but the next morning my lips would start to get dry and the tiny bumps pay their visit again :p.. this even after i remove any traces of the lip gloss/balm before going to bed..also I have noticed that if i skip my glycerin and vaseline routine for a day or two my lips start getting dry and start burning..I am not sure wat dis is or how long wud I have to suffer like dis, it is so embarrasing and depressing..I cannot even kiss my BF as i am not sure if dis is infectious :'(
please let me knw if anyone finds out any cure...doctors and scientists...are u listening???..
Avatar universal
I have suffered the same symptoms myself red itchy rash, very dry, bumps.  At first I thought it could be poison ivy or something I picked up from a shopping cart. I have used all kinds of lip balm, mostly Neutrogena.  In order to get relief  I tried everything including Abreva.  Then I put on some Neosporin antibiotic cream (the kind you use for cuts) and then on top of that Iuse  Neosporin Lip Health.  This comes in a day time tube with SPF 20 and a nightime tub that has no SPF.  I just slather it on.  The next day my lips felt so much better.  You should try it, it's fantastic.  My lips are almost back to normal.  
1724573 tn?1309622209
Wow, I've been battling this lip problem for six years now. It started at the end of my senior year in high school (when I was very stressed). It got really bad and my lips looked like I'd burnt them, they were blistered and terrible looking. The pharmacist suggested softlips and I've been using it since. However about every three months I'd get another reaction.

I attributed these reactions to stress. It just seemed in place with what was going on in my life. I'd let them dry out completely and try a little off brand neosporin and it would usually go away in about two weeks and I'd be able to start up with Softlips again.

This time I'm now going on a month and a half of suffering. I've tried every lip product. I've even tried EVOO. I'm working between neosporin's lip treatment and a travel size of Cortizone 10 Easy Relief. Yes, the very stuff you put on bug bites. This calms the bumps and itching--try this if you are suffering. I woke up one morning looking like Angelina Jolie after trying regular neosporin on my lips. I used the cortizone and within a few hours it settled down.

The problem I'm running into with the neosporin is that it's almost providing TOO MUCH moisture treatment. My lips always feel full and swollen and sticky. I never get the point where I don't have to use the cortizone again. The vaseline never really helps either...and DON'T try the toothbrush technique. People that suggest that are only trying to help the dry problem NOT the allergy portion--this will make things worse. The best thing to do if you start having a reaction is to take a warm washcloth and wipe it off. Even wiping that dead skin off that way might help too. But don't use a tooth brush.

With everyone out there with this problem, why isn't there a solution? Am I to use bug bite ointment for the rest of my life? PLEASE, I'd love an answer out of a professional that isn't generalize and a standard, "go see your doctor." There are plenty of us who have and aren't finding a good solution.
Avatar universal
I would suggest avoiding products with parabens, petroleum, and mineral oil. These are all irritants and many people are allergic to them. Unfortunately, they are found in most beauty products (soap, shampoo, make-up, lotion),so you will have to read the ingredients carefully. Usually products for sensitive skin don't have them try Aveeno (Skin Relief line), and also some natural products like Burts Bees. I hope this helps!
Avatar universal
My dermatologist says stay away from lanolin and lanolin alcohol. If ur allergic to wool ur more than likely allergic to those as well.
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