Lips are the most attractive feature of the face which is made of soft skin muscle. It has no bones. The outer portion of the lips contains sweat glands and oil glands and the edge of each lip is sheltered with reddish skin. This is called the vermillion border which contains multiple nerve endings that are meant to produce sensation. Any damage in these nerve endings can produce tingling sensation or numbness in the lips.
Tingling sensation in the lips can be due to several reasons. It can be described as “pins and needles” in the lips. Very cold temperature, stressful situations, allergies, cold sores and deficiency of vitamins can cause tingling or burning sensation in the lips. The lips can become numb for few minutes without having any sensation. Soft tissues in the lips can get damaged due to allergic reaction. In some cases tingling of lips can be due to neurological problem. Whatever may be the cause, it is necessary for you to consult a doctor if you have such signs. Treatment for tingling lips depends on the actual cause.
There might be burning feeling in the lips. Some people might feel that the lips have become numb totally. Some of the other symptoms of tingling lips include “pins and needles” feeling in the lips, swelling and redness of lips, dryness and pain in the lips. Some people may have changes in the sensation while having tingling lips, which indicates there is potential problem of nerves. It can be due to cut off blood supply in the nerves or peripheral neuropathy.
If tingling of lips is accompanied with tingling feet or hands it is very much essential for you to visit your doctor immediately. Numbness in other body parts indicates neurological damage. Seek immediate medical care if you have symptoms of tingling lips with change in mental status, change in consciousness level and sudden change in vision etc.
Numb Lips Causes
There are many causes and factors that range from mild to severe that triggers tingling sensation.
- Allergy :
Lips are one of the most sensitive organs of the body and any type of allergy first starts in the lips. Allergy is the common cause of tingling sensation in the lips. The first sign of food allergy is tingling sensation in the lips. Lips can feel discomfort as one eats allergic foods and the same feeling is felt in the mouth also.
- Infections :
Herpes simplex virus can easily attack the lips causing irritation and itching. Any type of oral infection (bacterial or viral) spreads through lips. The lips can get discolored and become itchy and in severe cases painful sores develop in the lips.
- Hormonal Problem :
Any imbalance in hormone level can alter the levels of calcium in the blood. This can cause tingling sensation in your lips.
- Extreme Weather Condition :
Extreme cold or hot climate can affect the sensory nerves of the lips causing tingling.
- Reynaud’s Phenomenon :
This condition is the response of the body when exposed to cold temperature or high stress. Small arteries supplying blood to the skin gets narrowed thus restricting the blood flow to those areas. The muscles of the lips and other areas develop twitching, tingling and pricking sensation due to vasospasm. Fingers and toes and even the lips become very cold and change its color. The lips become numb for few minutes exposure to cold and gets back to warmth only after some time.
- Panic attack :
In extremely fearful situations the body’s immune system begins to produce many chemicals to prepare the body mentally and physically to panic attack. In this condition several hormones secretes in volumes causing tingling feeling and numbness in hands, feet and lips.
- Alcohol and Smoking :
Heavy smokers and drinkers cannot have normal feeling in the lips. Nicotine gets embedded in the lips permanently and the person may start to lose sensation in the lips gradually.
- Deficiency of vitamins :
Severe vitamin B12 deficiency can cause cold sores and tingling in the lips.
- Low Levels Of Minerals :
Very low levels of calcium and potassium can produce trembling and tingling sensation in the lips. This can also cause tingling feeling in your ears and nose as well.
- Trauma :
Any injury or fast blow can produce numbness in the lips for few minutes.
- Peripheral Neuropathy :
Prolonged high level of diabetes can cause serious nerve injury in various parts of the body. The person may not have any sensation due to reduced blood-flow to such organs. Lips, hands and particularly feet can develop peripheral neuropathy and develop tingling sensation.
Other Causes :
Certain diseases like spinal stenosis, multiple sclerosis, shingles infection and systemic lupus can cause nerve damage producing tingling feeling in the lips.
If you develop sudden tingling of lips along with numbness in hands or feet suddenly it can be due to serious problem. This condition would also produce signs as loss of memory and mental status. This can be due to liver damage or brain damage due to stroke.
Treatment for tingling lips is based on the cause. Often allergy and severe cold causes tingling and numbness. First the person should be relaxed and assess the possible causes. Over the counter antihistamines like Allegra or Zyrtec D can be taken if you suspect food allergy. If you feel comfort after taking the drug you need not visit the doctor. Identify the list of foods that are allergic to you and avoid it totally.
If severe cold temperature is the cause of tingling lips you need to wear proper clothing while going out. Once you develop numbness in lips and hands, you need to shift to warm area immediately. You can continue your journey after resting few minutes in the warmth. People who develop tingling of lips due to panic attack should practice relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga. You need to train yourself to handle such situations without any panic. For patients with long-term diabetes it is necessary to maintain normal levels of blood glucose to prevent peripheral neuropathy. If you suspect viral or bacterial infection you can visit your doctor who may give antibiotics or antiviral medications to treat cold sores or oral thrush.
Useful Tips :
- Maintain proper oral hygiene to avoid any infection by chance. Brush twice a day and do regular flossing. Change your toothbrush at least once in 2 months.
- Avoid eating too much of acidic items and salty foods. This can damage sensory nerves causing numbness of lips.
- If you develop cracks or chapped lips you can apply Vaseline or petroleum jelly generously. This can help in preventing tingling.
- Exercise regularly and eat balanced diet.
- Don’t change cosmetics often and use only branded lipsticks and lip glosses.
- To prevent dryness, you can apply wet compress frequently and never peel off the dead skin from the lips. This can make it worse.
- Apply few drops of peppermint oil on your lips each day to prevent infection of many kinds. Alternatively you can also try chewing basil leaves if possible.