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Got black spots on your lips? 9 causes you should know

Black spots on your lips can happen due to many reasons, here are the causes the problem and what you can do to get rid of them.
View All Images black spot on lips
Black spots on lips can be for various reasons! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Rinky Kapoor Published: 10 Feb 2024, 06:00 pm IST
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Just like our skin and hair, our lips also require some care and attention. The skin on our lips is thin compared to the skin on our body and does not even have sweat glands. This means our lips are susceptible to dryness and chapping. Not just that, some people even spot black or dark spots on their lips. You may think it is because of pigmentation, but this is not the only cause of it. Let’s delve into the potential reasons behind dark spots on lips and how to get rid of them.

9 possible causes of dark spots on lips

Black spots on lips can appear for many reasons. They are not a cause for worry, but in rare cases, if the dark spot changes in shape or size, it can be a sign of oral melanoma. Hence, before trying any kind of treatment at home, you must talk to your doctor for the right diagnosis. Here are some possible causes of dark spots on the lips:

1. Oral melanoma

Skin cancer, or oral melanoma, is a dangerous form of cancer and usually appears as a small black or brown spot that changes in colour, shape, or size.

lip problem
Keep a check on your lip care. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Hyperpigmentation

It can appear anywhere, including on the lips. There are several reasons for hyperpigmentation, such as hormonal changes in the body because of pregnancy, wounds, insect bites, pimples, harsh skin care products, etc. To reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation, you may wear a sun protection lip balm. Apart from this, a dermatologist may prescribe azelaic acid, tretinoin, kojic acid, and hydroquinone to help lighten dark spots on the lip.

3. Allergic reactions to products

Black spots on the lips can also appear because of an allergic reaction to a new product that you might be using. This condition is also called allergic contact cheilitis or pigmented contact cheilitis. It can be because of toothpaste, mouthwash, hair dye, fragrance, lipstick, lip balm, flavourings, and even nickel in green tea.

4. Angiokeratoma of fordyce

These patches, which are typically caused by a widening of skin capillaries, are typically dark red, black, reddish blue, or purple. They may also appear on other skin areas. If left untreated, they develop a wart-like appearance and can occasionally result in bleeding, thrombosis, pain, and/or inflammation.

5. Hemochromatosis or too much iron

When the body starts to store and absorb too much iron, it causes issues like black spots on the skin, fatigue, liver issues, and pain. To reduce the amount of iron in the body, the doctor will give you medications and ask you to stop taking iron supplements.

Also read: My mom says coffee is a must-try home remedy for chapped lips

6. Dehydration

If you are dehydrated, then the signs of it will first show on your skin and lips. Dry and chapped lips lead to the impulse to lick, pick, or bite them, leading to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and black and dark spots.

Chapped lips
Dehydration can leave your lips dry! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

7. Sunspots

Also known as actinic keratosis, these spots arise from sun exposure and damage caused by UV rays. This may require treatments like freezing or chemical peels under professional care.

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8. Deficiency of Vitamin B12

Lack of vitamin B12 can lead to the darkening of the skin. It can also indicate anaemia and other symptoms such as ulcers in the mouth, irritability, red tongue, sore tongue, yellow tinge on the skin, etc. The treatment is multivitamins and eating vitamin-rich foods. In severe deficiencies, weekly injections can be recommended.

9. Smoking

Smoking causes dark spots on the lips, and the solution is to stop smoking and give the skin some time to heal.

10. Medications

Certain drugs, including antimalarial drugs, analgesics, antimicrobials, etc., can induce pigmentation. Talk to the doctor to guide you on this.

11. Hormone disorders

Imbalanced thyroid or other hormones can contribute to black spots on the skin, requiring targeted treatment to restore hormone levels.

12. Melanotic macule

This is a type of non-cancerous hyperpigmentation that results from excessive melanin production and is often treated with appropriate medical interventions and sun protection.

pigmentation around mouth
Pigmentation can also cause dark spots on lips. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

13. Laugier-hunziker syndrome

Typically benign, this condition responds well to laser therapy without requiring extensive medical intervention.

14. Peutz-jeghers syndrome

This cause of black spots on lips is often connected with stomach cancer. The spots can appear on the eyes, nose, hands, mouth, or fingers. They can become malignant if not treated in time. Regular blood tests of cancer-prone areas, the removal of bleeding spots, and treating gastric tumours are common options for treatment.

7 tips to manage dark spots on lips:

1. Apply a lip balm with SPF to protect the lips from harmful UV rays, which can worsen dark spots and cause pigmentation issues.
2. Keep the lips well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and using moisturising lip balms or creams.
3. Gently exfoliate the lips regularly to remove dead skin cells and promote cell turnover. This can help fade dark spots over time.
4. Look for lip treatments containing ingredients like niacinamide, vitamin C, kojic acid, or licorice extract, known for their skin-brightening properties. Apply these treatments consistently to target dark spots directly.
5. Consume a balanced diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants to support overall skin health, including the delicate skin on the lips.
6. Smoking can darken the lips and worsen existing dark spots. Quitting smoking or avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke can help prevent further pigmentation issues.
7. If dark spots persist despite home remedies, consult a dermatologist for a better treatment.

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About the Author

Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist & Dermato-Surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics ...Read More

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