4 Red Flag Health Warnings Your Lips Are Trying To Give You

<span class="copyright">Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images</span>
Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images

Some red flag signs on your nails, like a dark stripe in their beds, can belie health conditions as serious as cancer.

Even a peek at your tongue can let you know if you’re suffering from vitamin deficiencies.

But it turns out your lips can (characteristically) tell all too. According to the NHS, “pink moist lips, tongue, gums and cheeks” are ideal signs of good health.

Here are some signs that something might be wrong:

1) You have pale lips

Per WebMD, pale lips can signify everything from anaemia to vitamin B12 deficiency, oral thrush, low blood sugar, and vitiligo.

The NHS says that blue or grey lips can also be a cause for concern. This is called cyanosis and can arise due to pneumonia, asthma, heart health issues, a blood clot, and certain medications.

You should immediately call 999 if “you or your child’s lips, tongue, face or skin suddenly turn blue or grey - on brown or black skin, this may be easier to see on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, lips, gums and inside the eyelids,” they add.

2) Scaly patches on your lips

One to two centimetre-long patches on your lips can belie a condition called actinic keratoses, the NHS says.

The “rough, dry, scaly” or “sandpaper-like” patches are usually the colour of your skin or run from pink to brown. They come from sun damage and can also appear on your face, hands and arms, ears, scalp and legs.

You should see a GP if you notice this patch on your lip, spot new ones on your skin, or if “the patches begin to bleed, get bigger, change colour, feel tender or develop into a lump,” the NHS says. They are likely safe, but could be signs of skin cancer.

3) White patches on your mouth

This can come from oral thrush, an easily treatable condition that shows up as white patches on your tongue, mouth, and lips.

It can also create cracks at the corners of your mouth, the NHS says. If you spot these ― along with an unpleasant taste in your mouth, struggling to taste things properly, and possibly a sore tongue or teeth ― get some OTC treatments.

4) Cracked, dry lips

Causes for dry, flaky, and chapped lips range from dehydration, changes in weather, licking your lips, and even some medications. These can be harmless and temporary.

However, Healthline says you should see a doctor if you suspect dehydration or malnutrition. You could also have cheilitis, they say, a condition which sometimes leads to plaques, a dark pink colour, ulcers, and cracks on your lips.

This “is often attributed to infections and inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn’s disease” and might be worth a doctor’s visit, they write.

Speak to your doctor if you notice anything unusual about your lips, especially if it interferes with your day-to-day life.