Swollen lips can be indicative of a number of possible allergic reactions. The most frequent allergies to cause swollen lips are food allergies, usually involving peanuts, milk, eggs, wheat, and soy products. Other causes of swollen lips include penicillin allergy, latex allergy, and reactions to ingredients in lipstick and other lip applications.
Swollen lips are frequently the result of a food allergy. According to the University of Virginia Health System, some of the most prominent food allergies include allergies to eggs, certain types of fish, milk or lactose, different varieties of nuts and oils, soy, and wheat. Many of these can cause swollen lips along with a number of other symptoms including swelling of the tongue, a rash or hives, itchiness of the skin or mouth, nausea and vomiting, difficulty breathing, and decreased blood pressure.
An allergic reaction to penicillin can also yield swollen lips, according to the Mayo Clinic. Penicillin is a series of medications used in the treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions. The symptoms of a penicillin allergy can vary in severity; swollen lips accompanied with skin irritation like a rash, hives, or itching can indicate a moderate allergic reaction to taking penicillin. Serious allergic reactions to penicillin can include complications with breathing, shock, an altered pulse, dizziness, and nausea.
Swollen lips may also be caused by an allergic reaction to a lip balm, lipstick, chap stick, or other lip applications. Certain ingredients in lipstick can give allergic reactions to some users. Lipsticks are not fully regulated by the Food and Drug Administration; ingredients like sesame oil, castor oil, and other food products which may induce allergic reactions may be in some products without being listed on the labels.
An allergy to latex can cause swelling or irritation of the skin, including swollen lips. When a latex allergy exists, directly touching latex can irritate the point of contact with the skin, leading to swelling, breaking out in a rash, and itching. With the lips, a latex allergy is likely caused by contact with balloons, gloves, and or certain children's toys.
In the most severe cases, aggravating a latex allergy can lead to anaphylactic shock, per the Mayo Clinic. Anaphylactic shock is a serious reaction which requires medical intervention; it is recognizable by shortness of breath, confusion and slurred speech, nausea, and skin turning blue.
Seasonal and animal allergies can affect people in different ways, with swollen lips being one possible reaction. Various pollens, pet dander, and other airborne spores affect those who are allergic to them with sneezing, congestion, a cough, and dry itching eyes, among other symptoms. With very sensitive allergies or exposure to significant amounts to allergens, symptoms can be intensified and other symptoms can appear.
The onset of swollen lips can be startling, embarrassing, and frightening. This can be caused by one of many possible allergic reactions including food allergies, penicillin allergies, and latex allergies, among others. Anyone with questions or concerns about swollen lips or associated allergies should consult their doctor.