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Causes and Treatment of Tingling Lips

Updated on April 26, 2016

What does Tingling Lips mean?

Tingling lips are the sensation of pins and needles on the lips. The sensation of tingling in the lips can be felt either in the upper lip or the lower lip or can be felt both on the upper and lower lips. Tingling lips are often associated with numbness which may have a complete loss of sensation or partial loss of sensation depending on the cause and the degree of paresthesia. The onset of tingling lips is generally harmless but can cause undue discomfort on the part of the affected individual.

The lips are tactile organ and visible part of the oral cavity which is soft and movable. It serves as an opening for nourishment and as an articulation for both sound and speech. The lips are also highly sensitive as represented in large portion in the sensory cortex. The trigeminal nerve, the largest among the cranial nerves, supplies the lips with sensory nerve. The infraorbital nerve is among the trigeminal nerve that supplies the senses for the upper lip. The lower lip on the other hand is being supplied by sensory by the mental nerve, which is a part of the mandibular nerve. The skin covering both the upper and lower lips stratified squamous epithelium.

Numerous functions are being served by the lips. First, the lips are movable allowing the lips to open and close for intake of food and to hold it in the mouth while chewing the food. Sound and speech articulation is the next function of the lips. This allows humans to create both consonant and vowel sounds that make up the speech. Different sounds can be created with the help of the lips such as whistling, shouting and others. The lips are also a tactile organ that allows human to determine warmth and cold and is especially beneficial for toddlers and babies in determining an unknown object. The lips are also an erogenous zone that plays an important role in the act of intimacy. Both the tactile and erogenous zone is due to the fact that the lips have numerous nerve endings.

Symptoms

The common symptoms of tingling lips include the following:

  • Pin and needle sensation on the lips
  • Burning feeling
  • Dry lips
  • Lip paresthesia for a very short span of time
  • Pain that can be mild or moderate
  • Lip swelling with warmth and redness
  • Occurrence of chapped lips

The onset of tingling lips may also be associated with other symptoms manifesting the existence of other medical condition which may or may not be serious. However the degree, it is important to have a doctor consulted especially if the tingling of the lips is occurring for longer period and especially if associated with symptoms such as:

  • Alterations in sensation
  • Intense sensitivity
  • Impairment in the coordination of either the upper or lower lips or both of the lips
  • Tingling sensation in other parts of the body aside from the lips
  • Perception of pain in the nerve
  • Muscle weakness

The tingling of the lips may also be associated with other symptoms of a more serious condition that may require an immediate medical attention. The symptoms associated with the tingling of the lips could be a life-threatening condition and such symptoms are:

  • A sudden change in the level of consciousness and unresponsiveness
  • Confusion and lethargy
  • Delirium, delusions and hallucinations
  • Impaired speech such as slurred or garbled speech
  • Sudden onset of visual impairment such as loss of vision or pain in one or both eyes
  • Sudden onset of severe headache
  • Inability to move any of the body parts or half of the body.

Causes

A lot of reasons can be implicated in the onset of tingling lips while the tingling may also be a symptom or among the symptoms of other medical conditions that may or may not be serious. The most common causes of tingling lips on the other hand include the following:

  • Exposure to extreme temperature
  • Dry or chapped lip condition
  • Chemical burns and exposure
  • Occurrence of herpes simplex virus infection
  • Any injury directed towards the lips
  • Overexposure to sunlight or sunburn

There are also conditions, diseases and disorders that can contribute to the tingling of the lips and the common diseases and disorders associated with it include the following:

Allergic reaction

This is the most common cause of tingling in the lips. The allergens may be in the form of natural substances or chemical substances. Allergic reaction to food is the most frequent cause of tingling in the lips.

Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that can trigger the tingling sensation in the lips. This is because the condition is described as damage to the sensory nerves that results in numbness in various parts of the body including the lips.

Reynaud’s phenomenon

Reynaud’s phenomenon is a condition characterized by narrowing of the blood vessels adjacent to the surface of the skin upon exposure to low temperature. The narrowing of the blood vessels results to symptoms of spasm, pain and prickling sensation of the exposed part of the body.

Tingling of the lips may occur as a symptom or among the symptoms of an existing underlying condition such as:

  • Autoimmune nerve disorders
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Growth of malignant neoplasm
  • Cervical stenosis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

Other causes of tingling in the lips include serious medical conditions that can be potentially life-threatening such as:

  • Stroke
  • Cranial nerve damage
  • Transient ischemic attack

Treatment

Tingling lips is not a condition or a disorder but rather a symptom of an existing medical condition. The treatment of tingling of lips therefore lies in the treatment of an existing underlying condition. It is necessary to identify the cause of tingling of lips before medication can be applied.

Tingling of the lips that is due to allergy to food can be treated with antihistamine medications. It is also necessary to stop taking in the food that is triggering the allergy. Nutritional deficiency on the other hand can be managed and controlled with proper diet of healthy food and supplements.

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    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 3 years ago

      Good overview, very thorough.