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Swollen Upper Lip Causes, Symptoms and Relief Treatments


Why do I suffer from a swollen upper lip in the morning after sleeping, during sleep, out of nowhere, unexplained or for no reason?  Do lip infections, injuries, insect bites, cold sores, canker sores, allergies, pimples or sunburn causes the swelling? What are some of the symptoms and treatments?

Swollen upper lip
Upper lip swelling


Where does it occur

Regarding exact location, the swelling can be random, on the entire lip, on half of your top, or in a single spot, i.e., on one side, left or right or even in the middle of your top lip ( swelling in the middle). Also, the swelling could be on the inner side on a spot or the entire lip.

How does the swelling occur

The swelling could be gradual or sudden( appear overnight while you are sleeping or anytime). Imagine waking up in the morning only to find your lips swollen! This could baffle you. 

Who can be affected 

Although predominant in some group of people such as pregnant women, this swelling is a problem that can affect both men and women, children and adults.


When your top lip is swollen, you are likely to experience many signs and symptoms that could be mild or extreme, and their nature could indicate many possible causes.

In fact, sometimes, you need to carry out a differential diagnosis if you are to unearth the possible cause of the swelling since some share similar signs. The typical symptoms include the following:

  • Enlarged or fat lip (distention)
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Tightness
  • Tingling feeling, itchiness, inflammation
  • Soreness
  • Redness and skin color changes
  • Blistering and chapping
  • Discharges which might include pus as well as pus-filled bumps
  • Fever, chills, nasal congestion or a runny nose.

These are just but a few of the common symptoms. There are many others which are dependent on the actual cause.

In case you have symptoms such as too much swelling that might extend to your tongue, breathing difficulties, hives and rash, tight throat and fingernails discoloration (becoming blue), ensure you seek immediate medical attention.


Although many people complain about sudden swelling for no reason, the truth is, there are reasons as to why it swell whether it is in the morning, during the day or after eating some food. We are going to discuss some of the common which causes include: 

1. Injury, trauma, and surgeries

The most common reason is trauma (being hit by a blunt object) or injuries (including during sports or confrontations).

Swollen lip due to trauma
Trauma caused swelling 

Also, lip surgeries, dental procedures, piercing, biting your lips, kissing, burning (e.g., with hot food), dental braces injuries, Restylane injections, botox, playing musical instruments, etc., can make your top lip to swell.

2. Allergic reaction

Allergic reactions are another common cause that affects many people. It is caused by various allergens that include food, latex, some medicines, pet dander, some lip care products, and so on. Allergies might be accompanied by other symptoms such as a swollen face or eyes, red or watery eyes, a runny nose, and so on.

For instance, if it swells after eating a certain food, you might be allergic to that food. You need to get the right treatment and avoid eating the same food.

3. Mouth and lip infections

Stomatitis and other infections, for instance, type 1 herpes simplex (fever blisters or cold sore) canker sores, angioedema, cheilitis, among other diseases can cause swelling.

4. Acne and pimple

Having acne or a pimple on your lips can also be a cause for the swelling both on the bottom and upper one, especially if you have the cystic acne type which tends to be bigger and painful.

Cystic acne can cause large or giant lip swelling and pain. Acne and lip pimples tend to cause swelling on the specific points where you have them.

5. Sunburn or poisoning and harsh weather

Exposure to too much sunlight can cause not only swollen blistered (sunburn blisters ) but also lead to cracked lips. Similarly, exposure to arid, windy and cold conditions can make them swell.

6. Hives

The other possible cause could be urticaria or hives. This is a severe allergic reaction characterized by “a kind of skin rash notable for pale red, raised, itchy bumps” [Wikipedia]. It can affect various body parts including your lips making them swell.

7. other causes 

Other causes include ingrown hair (if you have if it happens after waxing or shaving), abscess especially after piercing, eczema, myxedema, oral cancer, organ failure, blood transfusion reaction, herpangina, among many others.

Swelling in morning, overnight or during sleep

Why is my upper lip swollen in the morning or what causes this problem? If you suffer from this problem in the morning, it is an indication the swelling happens overnight as you sleep.

Some of the possible cause might be hypoxia, associated with sleep apnea. Also, it could be due to insect bites, lip biting while you are asleep, or allergic reactions (angioedema) to your bedding material or even the food you ate before going to bed especially if you have no sores, cuts or blisters.

Swelling and numbness

Do you have a swollen numb top lip and you are wondering what could be the reasons? Well, some of the common causes of this problem include allergies, dental aesthetics and plastic surgeries, infected piercings on your top lip and frenulum. 

Also, granulomatous cheilitis (especially with a lump), cellulitis which is “a bacterial infection of the skin, that causes red, tender skin that is usually swollen and warm” [] among other conditions.

Sudden swelling 

What causes sudden swelling of the top lip? The main culprit is allergic reactions to various things including lip care products (such as glosses, lipsticks, or balms), food allergies, latex allergy, allergy to some medicines, and pet dander among other allergens.

If your upper or lower swollen suddenly without an apparent reason (unexplained) and you have not had any insect bites, try antihistamines both the OTC or prescription strengths to see if you will get better.

Swollen lip frenulum

Frenulum piercings and related injuries, gum diseases, dental problems, injuries, trauma, are the common causes.

Treatment and remedies

A swollen fat lip is nothing anyone would want to have. Here are some of the treatments and home remedies that can cure, heal or at least bring down or reduce swelling:

  • If caused by allergies get OTC antihistamines as well as prescribed ones. Brands such as Benadryl, Zyrtec, or Zantac might be of some help. Couple this with a cold compress to reduce the swelling quickly.
  • Use of black tea bags
  • Honey
  • Tea tree oil mixed with aloe vera
  • Aloe vera extract
  • Turmeric powder
  • Salt and witch hazel
  • Coconut oil
  • Cold compress

These and many other ways to deal with this problem fast.  


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