Sweaty Upper Lip? Here's Why and What You Can Do About It

A fiery meal can make your top lip slick, but it could also be a sign of a medical condition.
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Upper lip sweating makes your face feel icky, and worse, sends off the vibe that you're either very anxious or in desperate need of sitting down and taking a break (even if that's not actually the case).

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In short, it's not fun. So if it's plaguing you, what can you do to stop it?

Sweaty upper lips can have a number of causes. Some of them are super straightforward and easy to address, but in some cases, those little beads could signal an underlying health problem.

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Here's how to tell what you might be dealing with and how to get rid of upper lip sweat.

1. You Ate Something Spicy

Some people sweat when they eat spicy foods, and that can include upper lip sweat.

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Consuming capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their spicy kick, can leave you feeling warm and flushed. And when your body senses your temp starting to rise, it works to cool you off by sweating, explains Marisa Garshick, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell-New York Presbyterian Medical Center.

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2. You're Going Through Menopause

Menopause is frequently marked by hot flashes — warmth, flushing and sweating on the chest, neck and face that can be accompanied by a rapid heartbeat and even feelings of anxiety.

Hot flashes tend to come on suddenly and end just as quickly, within a couple of minutes, according to the Mayo Clinic. When the flash starts to subside, you might start to notice that you feel unusually chilly.

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3. It's Hyperhidrosis

Sometimes upper lip sweat is caused by hyperhidrosis, a condition marked by excessive perspiration with no other symptoms.

While facial sweating isn't as common as sweating on the hands or feet, it ​can​ happen, says Beth G. Goldstein, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder and chief product officer at Modern Ritual.

Often, the sweaty episodes will be brought on by common triggers like heat or stress — the perspiration is just way more intense than normal, per a June 2018 paper in ​American Family Physician​.

4. You Have Rosacea

Upper lip sweating isn't a primary symptom of rosacea, a skin condition marked by broken facial blood vessels that cause blushing and flushing.

But people with rosacea are more likely to experience excessive facial sweating (along with increased facial flushing) in response to heat compared to those who don't have rosacea, per a September 2015 study in the ​Journal of Neurophysiology​.

5. It's Diabetes

Poorly managed diabetes can lead to a range of health problems. But one you may not know about is increased sweating, including excessive facial perspiration, Dr. Goldstein says.

Over time, high blood sugar can lead to damage of the nerves that control the body's sweat glands, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Issues (NIDDK). That may cause heavy sweating, particularly at night, or sweating while eating.

6. You Have Nerve Damage

Less commonly, other conditions can potentially trigger damage to the nerves that control facial sweating too.

These can include shingles, facial trauma or fractures, and surgery or growths found in the auriculotemporal nerve (a nerve on the side of your head), including tumors involving the parotid gland, Dr. Goldstein says.

How to Get Rid of Upper Lip Sweat

Managing upper lip sweat usually means getting a handle on the underlying cause. If simple triggers like spicy foods or warm environments seem to be the culprit, limiting your exposure will help, Dr. Goldstein says.

For menopause in particular, staying one step ahead of hot flashes can also make a difference. Dress in cool, breathable layers that are easy to remove and sip a cool drink when you feel a surge of warmth coming on, recommends the Mayo Clinic. You can also ask your doctor about natural remedies like supplementing with B vitamins or soy.

When lifestyle changes aren't enough, it's worth talking with your doctor or a dermatologist. Together you can discuss additional strategies for stopping upper lip sweat, including:

  • Facial antiperspirants:​ Most experts wouldn't advise swiping your underarm sweat stick on your face, because they can cause irritation. But a dedicated facial antiperspirant like aluminum sesquichlorohydrate or aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex glycine can often do the trick, Dr. Goldstein says. Ask your doctor about a prescription.
  • Anticholinergic medications:​ These medications, which can be used topically or taken orally, can block or reduce stimulation of nervous system receptors that trigger sweating. Anticholinergic agents, especially oral ones, should only be used under medical supervision. "The oral medications will diminish all sweating, therefore one needs to be careful to not trigger heat stroke if someone becomes overheated," Dr. Goldstein explains.
  • Botox injections:​ Botox can temporarily block chemicals that signal the production of sweat. It's most often used for excessive armpit sweating, but it can also help manage heavy facial perspiration, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Injections are typically needed every three to four months, says Dr. Goldstein.

Managing Makeup With Upper Lip Sweat

If you wear foundation or concealer, upper lip sweating typically equals melting makeup. Treating the underlying cause is the most effective way to minimize the mess, Dr. Goldstein says.

But using a primer underneath foundation or concealer can also give your makeup more staying power, as can setting your makeup with a powder or spray afterwards.

Finally, don't be afraid to give your upper lip a quick blot with a tissue when you notice those beads starting to form.

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