Lip, Swollen (Local Allergic Reaction)

What is causing my child’s lip to swell?

The sudden swelling of a lip that hasn’t been injured is usually caused by a local allergic reaction to something that has gotten on the lip. If it is an allergic reaction, a child will also have symptoms of itching or tingling.

The substance causing the reaction can be a food, toothpaste, lipstick, or lip balm. Other irritants (for example, an evergreen resin) may get on the lips from the hands.

How can I take care of my child?

  1. Wash the lips and face with soap and water to remove any irritating substances.
  2. Apply ice to the swelling for 20 minutes out of the hour. This should reduce the swelling and the itch. Repeat this 3 times if necessary.
  3. Give an antihistamine in the correct dosage. Benadryl is available without a prescription. Other antihistamines (for example, store brands of any drug for hay fever) will also help, but Benadryl tends to give better results. Continue every 8 hours for 2 or 3 times.
  4. Avoid any allergic foods that are associated with the lip swelling.

When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?


  • Your child has trouble breathing or swallowing.
  • Your child is acting very sick.

Call during office hours if:

  • The swelling lasts for more than two days.
  • The swelling becomes worse.
  • You have other questions or concerns.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-06-19
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.

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