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Check & Protect! It’s Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Why Do I Have a Dark Spot on My Lip?

woman with dark spots and uneven skin tone around her lips

A little beauty mark slightly above her lip helped make Marilyn Monroe an iconic beauty. And she’s certainly not the only one — there’s something about that tiny spot that makes someone look mysterious and dangerous and sexy all at once. But that’s a dark spot above their lip. If you have a dark spot on your lip, it may feel worlds away even though it’s only a few centimeters different.

Instead of an intriguing and unique trait, you might be frustrated that your dark spot is getting in the way of some killer nude lipstick or lipgloss looks and drawing attention from your better features.

Several different things can cause a dark spot to form on your lip, just as some things can cause blemishes to crop up anywhere on your body. Whether you’re looking to improve the appearance of your not-so-beauty mark or just trying to get to the bottom of why it appeared, learning about what causes these blemishes is a great place to start.

What Causes Dark Spots?

You may be familiar with hyperpigmentation when it comes to your face or common problem areas like your knees or elbows. But hyperpigmentation on your lips can feel like an entirely different ballgame!

In general, any hyperpigmentation probably isn't a significant health problem. However, dark spots could be symptomatic of a larger issue, even though it’s rare, so although it’s not worth panicking over, a trip to your doctor or dermatologist may be in order. Checking in with a professional can help calm any emotions you might have over your blemish and can also help to give you a heading when it comes to planning your treatment.

But while you wait, let’s talk about some common causes for dark spots that form on your lips.

Sunspots

If you love a nice long beach day and have a good number of years of them at your back, the dark spots on your lips may be a result of long-term sun exposure. Sunspots on your lips often feel a bit flaky and scaly, which sets them apart from other types of lip spots. They may not even be that dark — more of a your-lips-but-darker is common, too. It’s also possible for your sunspot to be the same color as your lips but feel different.

There’s no reason to panic, but sunspots (AKA Actinic Keratoses) fall under the classification of precancerous. So you should definitely have a doctor check them out! This doesn’t mean that you definitely have cancer, and it also doesn’t mean your life is in danger if you do — you’ll just want to consult a professional to make sure you’re treating them appropriately.

Your doctor may recommend freezing your sunspot off or other minor surgical procedures, but he may recommend an at-home treatment. If the suggestion is an over-the-counter solution, you can try our Even Tone Resurfacing At Home Peel Pads to help pave the way for skin cell turnover and give your lips a bit of a boost. Of course, you’ll also want to find a great chapstick with SPF during and after your treatments to ensure that the sunspot doesn’t return!

Dehydration or Malnutrition

When we say malnutrition, we don’t mean you’re starving or hangry. We’re saying you might be missing some essential nutrients in your diet. For instance, if you’re not getting enough B12, you can get hyperpigmentation from a Vitamin B12 deficiency, which could show up on your lips.

Similarly, your lips can get chapped if you’re not getting enough water. The more chapped your lips are, the more likely they will get minor cuts, even if you try hard not to bite or peel them. Although any scratches on your lips can seem insignificant, they can scab or scar, leaving dark spots behind.

The solution to these problems is pretty obvious: make sure you’re getting a balanced diet and drinking a lot of water! Hydrating properly is so crucial for skin health. If you’re worried you’re not getting the proper nutrients, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make a considerable change in your diet. It’s as simple as incorporating a multivitamin into your daily routine.

And of course, a rich Hydrating Lip Treatment is always a good thing to (literally) have in your back pocket!

Allergic Reactions

This one’s pretty straightforward! If you’ve recently started using a new product on your lips or even on your face, you may have contact dermatitis that presents as dark spots on your lips. The solution is equally straightforward: limit your use of products on your lips one by one until you’ve found the culprit. Then re-introduce everything one by one to make sure your lips stay happy.

Fordyce Angiokeratoma

Fordyce’s spots can appear anywhere you have oil glands. They can be of different colors, different sizes and even different shapes. Usually, these spots will be dark red or black — so not exactly a look you’re drooling over. They’re actually just enlarged oil glands, so although it’s easy to get yourself worked up and worry that you have cold sores or even herpes, Fordyce Angiokeratoma is a totally different thing.

Fordyce’s spots are generally harmless and are much more common in older people. They’re also more common in people who tend to have oily skin.

If you have Fordyce Angiokeratoma, you don’t have to do anything about it. They aren’t harmful to your health, although if you’re worried they look similar to skin cancer, it’s worth speaking to a professional just to make sure everything is copacetic.

Suppose you would like to try and reduce your Fordyce Angiokeratoma for your peace of mind or self-esteem. In that case, you’re looking at either minor surgery, cryotherapy, or possibly even laser therapy. These procedures are pretty straightforward and painless, both literally and in terms of difficulty, but you’ll have to consult your doctor to pursue them.

Dental Work

If you’ve had braces, you know how frustrating all the minor aches and pains of dental work can be. Even if you use a mouthguard or wear dentures, it’s possible that whatever hardware you have in your mouth is creating pressure sores. These occur when your mouth-wear doesn’t fit right and can present on your gums or lips.

After these sores heal, you can end up with Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH), which is to say, dark patches of skin in the area where the sore used to be. PIH is more common in people with darker skin tones.

First and foremost, if you’re getting sores in your mouth or on your lips, you should speak to your dentist immediately to have your braces, dentures or mouthguard re-fitted. While dental work can be painful, anything you keep in your mouth long-term shouldn’t be!

Keeping lip balm on hand can help to calm your skin, and your dentist can even prescribe creams to help brighten the appearance of your hyperpigmentation. It’s better to stick with what’s recommended by a professional here. But suppose you’re looking to take more of a DIY approach.

In that case, you could very carefully test and then try a small amount of a face product with a brightening agent. For example, gentle Tranexamic Acid, one of the key ingredients in Advanced Even Tone Day and Night Treatment, helps to improve the look of your dark spots.

Hormones

This might sound a bit weird, but if your thyroid hormone is too low or too high, you can end up with some hyperpigmentation on your face and even on your lips. Low hormones can lead to Melasma — this tends to be connected to things like pregnancy or a change in birth control and presents in brown spots on your skin. If your hormones are too high, your skin can darken.

Although there are ways to lessen the appearance of hyperpigmentation caused by hormones, your first port of call should be your doctor. Unless you get to the root of the problem — which is to say, balancing your hormones — the problem will not go away.

Smoking

Among the many pitfalls of smoking are dark spots on your lips! Especially if you’re an avid smoker, it’s easy to get a bit blind to the damage you’re doing to your body. Cigarettes can burn or damage the skin of your lips over time, and smoking regularly also makes your body a bit slower to heal.

If these burns linger or turn into scars, you can end up with permanent dark spots on your lips. The only way to fix this problem is to quit smoking, allowing your body to heal and enable any treatment you might pursue to have its full effect.

In Conclusion

Dark spots on your lips can be so frustrating. Of course, you want the most even-looking canvas possible if you’re trying to rock a bold lip — and of course, you just want your lips to be fresh and plump, too. Unfortunately, several different things can cause dark spots on your lips, so your first stop on your journey to reduce the look of stubborn dark spots is to get to the bottom of what’s causing them in the first place!

By: Ivey Rogers Aesthetician Educator & Community
Engagement Manager

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