You can thank your lips for much more than the ability to kiss. Your pout can clue you in to lots of information about your overall health. Here are five things yours lips wish they could tell you.
Throw away that new lipstick.
Swollen lips? Your new shade may be to blame, but so could whatever you had for lunch. Swelling can be a sign of an allergic reaction, says Keith Arbeitman, DDS, of Arbeitman & Shein Dentistry in Manhattan.
At first, your lips will look bigger than normal and start to tingle. But “if you start looking like a duck, you probably want to go to the emergency room,” says Arbeitman. In most cases when it’s your dinner causing the swelling, other symptoms—like watery eyes, itchy skin, or hives—will also show up.
You need to eat a steak.
As hard as you try to eat a healthy diet, it’s easy to miss out on some key nutrients. And sometimes those deficiencies show up in your lips, says Diane Madfes, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and member of the American Academy of Dermatology.
If your lips suddenly get dry or you develop painful cracks at the corners of your mouth, you could be running low on iron, zinc, vitamin B3, or vitamin B6.
Your diet could be to blame, but the solution may be as simple as adding a little red meat to your diet every once in a while—it’s one of the richest sources of both iron and zinc.
Don’t do red meat? You can also find iron, zinc, and B vitamins in foods like salmon, eggs, and leafy greens you can add into a smoothie.
To be safe, head to your doc for a blood test if you suspect a nutrient deficiency. In some cases, you may be prescribed a supplement.
You’re, uh, drooling.
Drooling could be another reason for those painful cracks at the corners of your mouth, officially called “angular cheilitis.”
If you grind your teeth, wear dentures, or are just prone to drooling, moisture can pool at the corners of your mouth as you sleep and lead to a yeast infection, Arbeitman says.
The yeast that grows overnight can make the delicate skin at the corner of your top and bottom lips crack, which shows up as a deep cut. Arbeitman suggests getting a night guard. If dentures are the problem, you should head to the dentist for a better fit.
Yoga is calling your name.
“If you’re really run down, exhausted, or working too much, cold sores can certainly crop up,” Arbeitman says.
They could also be a sign that your immune system is compromised, according to Madfes. You might also see these painful bumps when you’ve had a cold or during your period.
It’s time to refill your water bottle.
Slathering on chapstick like there’s no tomorrow? It might not just be dry and cold air that’s sucking moisture from your lips.
There’s a good chance your internal hydration has something to do with it as well, Arbeitman says.
If you’re spending too much time in the sun or just not drinking your daily fill of water, then you’re probably dehydrated.
And that dehydration shows up in your parched lips. Luckily, this one has an easy fix: Just guzzle more H20!