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Psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune skin condition. It’s characterized by patches of thick, red skin covered by white, silvery scales.

Psoriasis can occur anywhere on the body, including on the lips. However, psoriasis on the lips is rare.

Facial psoriasis occurs in around 50 percent of people who have this condition. However, psoriasis on the lips is rare.

Lip psoriasis may look similar to plaque psoriasis on other parts of the body. In some instances, it may be accompanied by lesions in the mouth or plaques on other areas of skin.

Current scientific literature cites only a handful of case studies about individuals with psoriasis on their lips.

In one case study of a 21-year-old woman, plaque lesions appeared on the lips but didn’t occur inside the mouth or anywhere else on her face, body, or scalp. Researchers noted that only six known cases of lip psoriasis (not accompanied by plaques elsewhere) had ever been documented.

In another, older case study of a 38-year-old man, psoriatic plaques developed on the fingers 3 years after they initially appeared on the lips.

Since it’s rare, lip psoriasis may be mistaken for other, more common conditions, such as cold sores or eczema. It may also be confused with lip lesions caused by lupus, another autoimmune condition.

The main symptom distinguishing lip psoriasis from other conditions are the white, silvery scales that form over red or white raised patches of skin.

Unlike psoriasis, cold sores (fever blisters) are caused by a viral infection. They look like tiny, clustered, fluid-filled blisters, which may burst or ooze and then crust. Psoriasis on the lips may be long lasting, whereas cold sores resolve within 2 to 3 weeks.

Lip eczema is often caused by environmental irritants or allergens, such as the ingredients in lipsticks, lip balm, or toothpaste. Lip eczema can sometimes resemble lip psoriasis.

Symptoms of lip psoriasis include:

  • cracked skin
  • red or white plaques covered with white, silvery scales
  • scaling
  • itching
  • burning
  • tingling
  • swelling

Lip psoriasis may be accompanied by psoriasis in the mouth. If so, you may see:

  • small white bumps that bleed when scraped
  • red or white plaques on your tongue or gums

There’s no specific blood or imaging test that your doctor can use to aid with a diagnosis of psoriasis on the lips.

Your doctor will take a history of your overall health and symptoms to determine whether allergic triggers may be playing a part. They’ll also ask whether you lick your lips often or have any other behaviors which might impact your lips.

They’ll look for evidence of psoriasis on other parts of your body, such as the elbows, knees, fingers, and scalp.

Some people with psoriasis have a family history of this condition, but others don’t. A family history of psoriasis or of other autoimmune conditions may be a clue.

In some instances, a biopsy may be done. This test doesn’t definitively diagnose psoriasis, but it can be helpful at eliminating other possible causes.

There’s no cure for lip psoriasis, but there are treatments that can help you manage it. They include:

  • Moisturizers. Topical lotions and oils that alleviate dryness, scaling, and cracked skin can make other topical treatments more effective. Moisturizers to try include coconut oil and emollient creams that don’t contain perfume or other potentially irritating ingredients.
  • Topical vitamin D. Calcipotriol, a vitamin D derivative, has been found to be effective at treating lip psoriasis.
  • Corticosteroids. Prescription-strength corticosteroids can reduce itching and relieve inflammation.
  • Tacrolimus ointment. This prescription cream weakens the immune system, reducing allergic reactions. It’s used to treat eczema but has also been found to be helpful at treating lip psoriasis.
  • Phototherapy (light therapy). This in-office treatment exposes skin to ultraviolet light on a regular basis. Several treatments may be required before you see an improvement in symptoms.
  • Methotrexate. If your symptoms are severe or widespread, your doctor may prescribe this oral medication for you. Methotrexate slows the growth of skin cells, which stops psoriasis scales from forming.

Check out this article for more information about oral medications to treat psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition caused by an overreaction of the immune system. Psoriasis speeds up the growth cycle of skin cells, causing them to accumulate and form raised plaques.

It’s not clear why psoriasis might occur on the lips as opposed to other parts of the face or body. Since this condition is very rare, no large-scale studies have been done that specifically analyze why it might manifest on the lips.

There are no scientifically documented strategies for preventing psoriasis on the lips.

If you’re able to identify your triggers for lip psoriasis, avoiding them may help reduce or eliminate flare-ups.

Anyone can get psoriasis. Currently, there are no known risk factors specific to developing psoriasis on your lips.

Finding care for psoriasis on your lips

If you suspect you have lip psoriasis, finding the right specialist, such as a dermatologist, can help. Here are some resource for finding medical support:

Healthline

Psoriasis is a chronic condition which currently has no cure.

Lip psoriasis is very rare. If you have lip psoriasis, it may flare up and recede periodically.

Your doctor can help to identify treatments that alleviate flare-ups when they occur. In some instances, you may need to take a trial-and-error approach to the medications and topical treatments you try.