Question: Why do my lips burn?
Answer: The most common causes of burning lips are
- B vitamin or iron deficiency
- Allergies or food sensitivities
- Infections (generally fungal or viral)
It’s best to tackle the possible causes from top to bottom,since a B vitamin deficiency is the easiest to treat, and a fungal infection is the hardest.
To treat a B vitamin deficiency, take a B complex supplement 2-3 times a day for a week. If this was the cause of your burning lips, the symptom should subside on day two and be gone completely after 7 days. Because B vitamins are water soluble it’s very hard to overdose on them. Nonetheless you should consult a healthcare professional before starting a treatment regimen.
Warning: Taking B vitamins will generally cause your urine to turn bright yellow. This is simply your body eliminating the extra vitamin B-2 that it can’t absorb. Another possible side effect is having extra vivid dreams, or better dream recall in general. Once again, this is just a side effect from vitamin B-6 and will stop once you stop taking the B complex.
B vitamin deficiency is more common than you might think, because so many lifestyle factors can exacerbate the condition. Things that cause a B vitamin deficiency include:
- Sugar consumption
- Alcohol consumption
- Eating processed foods with a lot of white flour and starch
- Having Candida / Yeast overgrowth
- High levels of stress (especially for long periods of time)
- Pregnancy (fetuses love B vitamins, helps them grow!)
- Certain drugs, including oral contraceptives
If you are trying to cure burning lips, definitely eliminate or reduce as many of the above factors as possible. After 7 days of taking a B vitamin complex, if you still have burning lips, the next step is testing for iron deficiency.
Iron deficiency is not as common of a cause as B vitamin deficiency, however it should definitely be addressed – especially if you have other symptoms of iron deficiency. Your doctor can run a simple blood test to check your iron levels. If you are indeed deficient, consider a liquid herbal iron supplement. Other factors may also influence your body's ability to absorb iron. These include copper deficiency, irritable bowel syndrome, or vitamin B deficiency.
If nutritional deficiencies were not the cause of your burning lips, the next step is eliminating allergens in and on your body. Chances are, you are putting something on your lips to ease the pain. Unfortunately many lip balm products out there have skin irritants in them, although they might provide temporary relief. It’s best to use an oil such as shea butter or grape seed oil to soothe your lips. Reactions to these oils are nearly unheard of.
Internal allergens can be as harmful as ones that you put on your lips. So the next step in remedying burning lips is to identify dietary allergens. Certain foods and chemicals are more likely than others to be causing your symptom(s). For instance, some people claim that a salicylate sensitivity was the cause of their burning lips, and simply reducing high-salicylate foods in their diet cured the problem. If that doesn’t do the trick, follow an elimination diet – as detailed here. That diet is by far the best way to determine any food allergies or sensitivities that you may have.
In the unfortunate case that your lips are still burning after taking the above measures, it’s time to get tested and perhaps treated for an infection. Unfortunately I’m a natural health advocate – not a doctor! – so I can’t provide much advice in this area. I can however say that from a holistic health perspective, infections are best treated from the inside out. Supplementing with anti-viral herbs, teas, and foods, might provide some relief.
Once again, I’m not a doctor. Anything you read here is opinion, not medical advice!