Though it's generally not a serious injury, a fat lip can be painful. And knowing how to get rid of a fat lip can help you heal your injury fast.
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Injured lips can come about for a number of reasons. A blow to the face can cause swelling from trauma to the soft lip tissue. Other times, fat lip swelling is the result of an allergic reaction to a food or insect bite or sting, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sunburns and infections like cold sores can also be the culprit, per the Cleveland Clinic.
If you're wondering what to do for a fat lip, first assess the damage. Check the inside and outside of your mouth for any bleeding or an open wound that may need medical attention.
If there's no emergency, try these 8 remedies to get rid of a fat lip fast.
How Long Does It Take for a Fat Lip to Go Away?
Fat lips can last a few days to a week or more, depending on the cause. If an allergic reaction caused your fat lip, the swelling should go down in a day or two, according to the Cleveland Clinic. But if it lasts longer then a week or comes back at random, visit an allergist to help you tackle the problem.
If trauma or sunburn is to blame, it can take several days for your body to heal itself, per the Cleveland Clinic. If it's an infection like cold sores, see your doctor to help you treat the underlying virus.
1. Clean the Wound
Rinse your mouth with clean water to flush out the area, per the Cleveland Clinic.
You can also try a salt water solution of 1 teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1 cup of warm water to help relieve pain, according to Kaiser Permanente.
2. Apply a Cold Compress
Wrap a cold compress, ice or bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and hold it to your lip to help reduce swelling and ease pain, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Apply ice to your fat lip every hour or two for 10 to 15 minutes at a time for the first 24 hours, per the University of Rochester Medical Center.
3. Suck on an Ice Cube
If you don't have a cold compress on hand, sucking on an ice cube or ice pop can also do the trick, per the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Suck on an ice cube every hour or two for the first 24 hours to help reduce pain and swelling.
4. Take Allergy Medicine
If allergies are to blame for your fat lip, take your prescribed allergy medication or an over-the-counter antihistamine like diphenhydramine (Benadryl is a common brand-name option), per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Follow the dosing instructions on the label.
Per the Cleveland Clinic, common allergic triggers for a fat lip include:
- Allergens in the air, like pollen, mold and dander
- Food, including common food allergens like milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish and shellfish
- Insect bites or stings
- Medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), codeine and certain blood pressure medicine
Some people experience a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which can cause severe trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting, rapid pulse and loss of consciousness, per the Mayo Clinic. If this happens to you, seek medical attention immediately.
5. Opt for a Painkiller
Take the edge off of an aching fat lip with an over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, per the Cleveland Clinic. Follow the dosing recommendations on the label.
If you have a known allergy to NSAIDs like ibuprofen, avoid taking them to heal a fat lip.
6. Put Honey on Your Lip
Applying honey to the area may be another way to get rid of a fat lip.
Why? The sugar in honey may help draw water out of the affected area, which can reduce swelling and make room for healing lymph fluid to flood the area, according to a June 2015 review in Wound.
7. Make a Baking Soda Paste
If your fat lip is the result of a bee sting, baking soda paste may help with itching in the area, per the University of New Hampshire. It might also help relieve canker sores inside your mouth or lips, according to Mount Sinai. Just add water to a spoonful of baking soda until it forms a paste, then apply it to the affected area.
That said, there's no research about whether baking soda paste can help reduce swelling from a fat lip specifically. Still, it may be worth a try if other remedies haven't done the trick.
8. Try Turmeric
Similarly, mixing turmeric and water to create a paste may be another effective fat lip treatment.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been used to treat inflammation throughout the body, as well as pain and inflammation for oral conditions like gingivitis, per Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute.
There's no research about how turmeric paste can treat lip swelling specifically, so it's unclear if these anti-inflammatory effects will also work well on a fat lip. But it's worth a shot if you have the spice on hand.
What About Moist Tea Bags?
Some people claim that pressing a damp tea bag to the injured area can help reduce pain and swelling.
While there's little evidence to support this strategy, the University of Michigan Health Service recommends tea bags to relieve sores inside your mouth or lips. However, there is no instruction about what type of tea to use.
What About Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a common ingredient in skin care products due to antioxidant properties that may help prevent and repair cell damage. It's often used to help treat wounds, burns and scars.
However, research to support these uses is lacking and more data is needed to establish whether vitamin E is an effective remedy for any injury, including a fat lip, per a July 2016 review in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal.
If you opt for a supplement, remember the FDA doesn't require them to be proven safe or effective before they're sold, so there’s no guarantee that any supplement you take is safe, contains the ingredients it says it does or produces the effects it claims. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist about whether vitamin E can help you and how you should use it.
Is This an Emergency?
- Mayo Clinic: "Allergies"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Hives (Urticaria) and Swelling (Angiodema)"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Cold Sores"
- Cleveland Clinic: "How Do You Take Care of a Busted Lip?"
- Kaiser Permanente: "Mouth Injury: Care Instructions"
- University of Rochester Medical Center: "Cuts and Wounds of the Mouth and Lips"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Diphenhydramine"
- University of Michigan Health Service: "Cold and Canker Sores"
- University of New Hampshire: "Bee Sting Care"
- Mount Sinai: "Mouth sores"
- Linus Pauling Institute: "Curcumin"
- Wound: "Honey: A Biologic Wound Dressing"
- Indian Dermatology Online Journal: "Vitamin E in dermatology"
- FDA: "FDA 101: Dietary Supplements"