What is Lip Gland Swelling?

Lip gland swelling, which in medical terms is called by the name of cheilitis glandularis, is a condition involving abnormal enlargement or protrusion of the lower lip of an individual with gradual loss of the clear differentiation between surface of the lip and the surrounding skin surface. Because of Lip Gland Swelling, the lining of the inner lip which is extremely sensitive gets exposed to the atmosphere which damages it and sometimes even predisposes it to infections.

Lip Gland Swelling or Cheilitis Glandularis is an extremely rare condition and is often at times mistaken with other disorders which are caused may be by biting of the lips or some other form of damage to the lip. Lip Gland Swelling in itself is not a medical condition but refers to changes occuring in the lips resulting in the exposure of the sensitive inner lining of the lip to the atmosphere.

The main cause for these changes is not known as yet, although some researchers believe it to be due to minor salivary gland dysfunction which extends to the lips. Despite this condition being rare in occurrence without a known cause and no specific treatment formulated as such, it still demands attention as ignoring lip gland swelling may lead to the changes in the lip worsening to an extent of the affected individual being at risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma due to lip gland swelling.

What Causes Lip Gland Swelling?

What Causes Lip Gland Swelling?

As stated, the main cause for Lip Gland Swelling is not known as of yet but it is believed to be caused due to some dysfunction in the minor salivary glands. This dysfunction in the minor salivary glands can be caused due to some underlying diseases or infections. The changes in the lip noted due to Lip Gland Swelling causes the inner lining of the lip which is very sensitive to get exposed to the atmosphere increasing the chances of the lining to get contaminated and infected.

Lip Gland Swelling is mostly seen in males between the 50 and 70 years of age bracket, although it may also occur sometimes in females and children as well. Some studies have also reported a genetic link to lip gland swelling, although this has not been proven as of yet. In some cases, lip gland swelling is also seen in people suffering from HIV/AIDS and is supposed to be associated with this condition, although everyone suffering from HIV/AIDS will get lip gland swelling.

The contribution of tobacco, excessive antibiotics, or trauma to lip gland swelling is still being investigated and as of now nothing has come up. There is also no proof that certain mouth infections like oral thrush plays a role in the development of Lip Gland Swelling. Despite there being no role at play here of the above conditions to the development of lip gland swelling but it may still complicate the picture and make treatment of lip gland swelling that much more difficult.

What are the Symptoms of Lip Gland Swelling?

The symptoms of lip gland swelling develop depending on the duration and severity of the condition. In some cases, swelling of the lip gland is completely asymptomatic at least in the earlier stages of the condition. Lip Gland Swelling is a chronic condition and continues to worsen with time as the condition progresses and symptoms may not be evident until the condition has advanced to a significant degree. Some of the symptoms associated with lip gland swelling are:

  • Swelling of the lips
  • Thick secretions from the exposed portion of the lining of the lip
  • Pustular secretions in some cases when the lining gets infected
  • Pain in and around the lips
  • Burning and roughness of the border of the skin and the lip also known as the vermilion border along with ulceration.

How is Lip Gland Swelling Diagnosed?

There are various systemic conditions that have symptoms similar to that of lip gland swelling of which the most common condition is Crohn Disease and sarcoidosis and hence it is important to rule out these conditions prior to reaching a diagnosis of lip gland swelling. Angioedema is yet another condition which can cause swelling of the lips and that condition also needs to be ruled out in order to reach a diagnosis of lip gland swelling.

Once all the above mentioned studies have been ruled out successfully, the physician may order blood tests to look for any bacteria or fungal infections or order a biopsy of the lip and the minor salivary glands to confirm the diagnosis of lip gland swelling.

How is Lip Gland Swelling Treated?

As stated, there is no specific treatment for lip gland swelling. Treatment is basically done of the underlying conditions in the mouth that may have resulted in the development of this condition. Since the condition is so rare, a specific treatment so far has not been formulated but some of the treatment options that are available for treating swelling of the lip gland are:

  • Use of antihistamines in some cases are effective, especially in cases of angioedema but they do not definitively cure lip gland swelling.
  • In cases of bacterial infections causing lip gland swelling then antibiotics will be prescribed in combination with topical immunosuppressants for treatment of lip gland swelling.
  • In some cases surgical interventions in the form of cryosurgery, laser surgery, or vermilionectomy is done for treatment of lip gland swelling.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: June 14, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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